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Bitok hopes Eldoret City tourney will expose talents

 From left: KVF official Paul Bitok, CEC Sports Uasin Gishu County Lucy Ng'endo and Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii receive cheques from sponsors on Friday. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

The second edition of the Eldoret City Volleyball Tournament has attracted over 100 teams, director of the competition Paul Bitok said on Friday.

The Kenya Volleyball Federation deputy president said the event which officially serves off on November 30 has attracted both national league and self-sponsored teams.

Teams will be eyeing the tournament’s Sh100,000 winning prize, an amount that Bitok said would be increased, and spread across various categories.

But before the four days of action from November 30 to December 3, participating teams will contest for top 12 slots in pre-qualification matches starting Thursday next week.

Last year, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) and Kenya Pipeline bagged the men and women titles respectively of the inaugural edition of the Eldoret City Open Volleyball Tournament staged at the Eldoret Sports Club on December 4 and 5.

KDF defeated Prisons 3-1 (25-21, 25-19, 25-16, and 25-17) to take the top spot in the 2022 contest.

Kenya Pipeline ladies – the former KVF league champions on the other hand earned their victory by holding their rivals Kenya Prisons to a 3-1 (25-22, 26-25, and 25-20) defeat.

Bitok said during the official launch of the second edition that Nemo Stars Volleyball club of Uganda was in a list of rich East African Volleyball clubs set to highlight the 2023 edition to be staged in Eldoret.

The Malkia Strikers coach Jeshi Stars from Tanzanian had shown interest in taking part in the tournament.

He said he was in talks with Ethiopian and Rwandan teams that had also shown interest in taking part, and would be confirming their participation ahead of November 30.

The participating teams will be placed in three categories – Elite, self-sponsored and school teams.

“The KVF are ready to receive the categories. The first category are national category teams, and then we have self-supporting teams and the series B teams which will have two days of pre-qualification because there are many teams,” Bitok said at the event.

He added: “Last year, we paid Sh100,000 for the winners. We are hopeful that the prize money will be increased. The top self-supporting teams will go home with a similar amount as the elites.”

He said players such as Tunisia-based Simon ‘Kosirai’ Kipkorir and Sharon Chepchumba who plays in Greece among other stars were identified in local tournaments.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jonathan Bii whose county is the tournament’s leading sponsor said the contest will offer potential volleyballers an opportunity to be spotted by clubs in the KVF national league.

“We are certain that the tournament will nurture volleyball talents. It is more exciting that teams from Uganda and other East African countries will be participating. We have volleyball talents and local tournaments will provide avenues for exposure,” the Governor said. 

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