MEET THE PATRON AND FOUNDER of the ARANAA GA-MASHIE TABLE TENNIS FOUNDATION – DJ ARANAA (Lydia Cleland)

A story to inspire the next generation of table tennis stars.

Born and raised in a small neighborhood known us Palladium in the capital city of Accra, Aranaa started her pre-school and basic school education at the St. Mary’s Anglican Primary School located at Akotolante , just some hundreds of meters away from her neighborhood.

After completing her primary school, she then enrolled into Bishop Mixed Junior Secondary School, located on the Accra High Street in the HOTCASS Campus, Accra. Upon completion, she attended St. Mary’s Senior Secondary School, at Korle Gonno, popularly known as ‘Merries’, where she gained her senior secondary school experience.

Aranaa didn’t start playing table tennis until she was 10. Her love and passion for the game of table tennis started when she injured her leg one day and was taken to the Prison’s Hospital for treatment. A fellow patient, an old man who has been attending the same hospital for several days noticed the young girl’s fearless nature whenever the nurse prepares to inject her.

He then called the girl after she took her fifth and last injection in 5 consecutive days and gifted her a sum of money for her bravery and unflinching attitude when taking injections. On her way home from the hospital, Aranaa met a friend who was having with her a table tennis ball, which very much attracted her, she then approached her friend and asked her what she was carrying, which responded that she was carrying a table tennis ball.

She then asked her friend to direct her to where she bought her table tennis ball, which her friend kindly did. She then got herself one with the money the patient had dashed her back in the hospital. Back home she told her brother, Nii Ofori Tackie Tetteh, popularly known as DJ Alordia (CEO of Ghana Music Awards, UK) about what had transpired during her visit to the hospital and also on her way back. After listening to her story, he agreed to make her a table tennis bat and also teach her how to play the game.

With appropriate materials lacking for her training, her brother made use of a smooth pavement behind the back of their house, which served as a table tennis board, and they did so by placing some wood in the middle of the pavement to make it look like one and that was when her initiation into the game of table tennis started.

She trained for a long time on their newly found table tennis board until her brother convinced her to go to one of the community center’s where table tennis is been played to face some competition and to improve her game.

On her very first day at the community center, she was given a daunting test by playing against another young girl known as Linda Annor, who at that time played for the National team and was being coached by professionals. She always reckons that moment as unforgettable after she lost the game heavily.

After that unforgettable experience, her conqueror acknowledged her potential and promised to introduce her to her coach who was known as S. K. Allotey, so she also could be trained. She then began to follow her newfound friend and teammate to their training center, which was located at the Arts Centre, Osu.

During her early days at training, Aranaa resorted to catching balls for other players until her coach approached her and confirmed she’s been seeing her around for a while now and also asked if she was interested in training with them which Aranaa acquiesced to. Coach S. K. Allotey then went on to tell her the equipment and apparels she needed to begin her training formally, and that was the very moment her rise to table tennis fame and glory began.

Her coach saw huge potential in her during their early days of training and instructed her to join her other teammates for extra training sessions including other players from the national team and also a Chinese table tennis club who all used to train at the Hathramani Hall located at the Accra Sports Stadium every Friday.
Aranaa’s first major tournament as a table tennis player was the Bournvita Table Tennis National Championship Open in 1996, where she emerged as the champion in the Women’s U-15 singles category, automatically making her the Nations U-15 champion at that time. But that trophy was just the very first of many more to come in her illustrious table tennis career.

From there, the young girl started touring the then 10 regions of Ghana to compete in several tournaments at her level, playing against the very best across the nation.
Her exploits in Junior High School led her to gaining admission into St. Mary’s Secondary School, “Merries” on a full scholarship scheme, since she competed and excelled in numerous sporting events such as football, volleyball, hockey and table tennis for them.
It was during her time in secondary school she attained huge success in the game of table tennis, climbing to the number 1 spot on the national table tennis rankings and never relinquishing her position to any competitor until her eventual departure to the United Kingdom.
DJ Aranaa always eulogizes her elder brother, DJ Alordia, and also commends and appreciates him for being the underlining contributing factor towards her table tennis journey and success.

By: Josiah Okoe Quaye

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