Suraiya Naidoo poses with an image of her son's face on a table tennis racket.
For many parents, embarrassing your children is one of life’s greatest gifts.
And if there were a contest for parents attending the Canada Games, Suraiya Naidoo would be the champion.
Naidoo has turned up to support her son, Team NT table tennis player Nikhilesh Gohil, with an unusual prop: a table tennis racket with her son’s face printed on one side.
Naidoo can be seen waving the racket enthusiastically – her son’s smiling face wafting from side to side – as Gohil takes part in contests against Canada Games rivals in Red Deer.
“I know my parents are here to cheer me on and they love me,” said Gohil, who is 12, “but it’s kind-of embarrassing. A bit.”
This is not the first time Naidoo has ambushed a child with an outlandish prop at a major sports event.
In 2017, at the Canada Summer Games in Winnipeg, she welcomed her daughter – a swimmer – at Winnipeg’s airport with a giant image of her daughter’s face, on a stick.
Naidoo recalled: “Two years later, my son says to me: ‘If I make the team, are you going to put my head on a stick?’
“So I thought, hey, table tennis – paddle – two sides. I’ll put a face on the paddle.”
Gohil only became aware of what was in store when his parents caught sight of him during the Canada Games opening ceremony, yelled to get his attention,
then waved the racket at him in delight.
“I got the exact same look of disgust and horror my daughter gave me when she saw hers,” Naidoo announced, with evident pride.
Signed, the Yellowknife company that printed the racket for Naidoo, announced on Facebook: “Proud to support our NWT athletes at the Canada Winter Games, and proud to support awesome moms that want to embarrass their kids.”
To ensure the trauma is lasting, Gohil’s parents are compiling a photo album featuring their son and the racket posing with a range of athletes, spectators, and volunteers he has met at the Games.
“It’s fun for me,” said Naidoo. “I have to do something to keep myself entertained.”