The national women volleyball team Malkia Strikers will play in the African Olympic Qualifying tournament in Cameroon next month. The tournament has attracted eight teams and will see one team secure a direct ticket to represent the continent in next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. Though Malkia Strikers are currently in residential training at Kasarani, there is fear they might not be well prepared for the eagerly awaited tournament.
Kenya missed out on the 2016 Rio Olympics after losing to their new-found rivals Cameroon and Egypt in a qualifying event. To ensure the team returns to the Olympics, coach Paul Bitok has called on the government to help them by organising friendly matches with high profile teams.
This will enable the technical bench to gauge the players against other top teams before the tournament slated for January 2 to 10 in Yaoundé. Bitok thinks the team should train for at least five days in Turkey where they might play against the Turkish national team and other clubs as preparation for the Yaoundé event. Kenya’s main rivals Cameroon are already in Poland preparing for the qualifying tournament while Egypt are set to train in Brazil - a volleyball powerhouse.
What Bitok is asking for is not much and the government through the National Olympic Committee-Kenya (NOC-K) should grant him his wish if we are to play at the Olympics. Being the Africa Games champions, it would be disappointing if the nine-time African champions fail to qualify for the global showpiece they last graced in 2004. Over to you NOC-K!