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Celebrated setter Wanja happy to impart her skills on Malkia Strikers

 Malkia Strikers' Trainer Janet Wanja during the launch of Malkia Strikers and Wafalme Stars teams at the Nyayo National Stadium on 10th January 2023 ahead of the African Games qualifiers set for January 21 to 29 in Cairo, Egypt. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Celebrated setter Janet Wanja feels great to be back on the volleyball court again, this time round not as a player but as trainer.

The former Malkia Strikers icon is helping head coach Japheth Munala to panel beat the women’s national team, that she steered to glory in her hey-days, ahead of the Africa Games qualifiers set for Cairo, Egypt on January 21-30.

Wanja feels her vast experience in the sport will add value to both the players and the technical bench.

The side side officially commenced preparation for the Africa Games qualifiers at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi on Wednesday alongside the men’s national side Wafalme Stars.

“I’m already impressed with the Malkia Strikers players, despite returning from the long break which was characterised with heavy festivities, they have shown good performance in the preparation we started on Monday.

“I have gauged them and I think they are not in bad shape, furthermore the players are not giving me hard times, they are very cooperative, we are bonding on so well,” Wanja told Standard Sports.

“What we are currently doing with Munala is to push the players to reclaim their full fitness back as quick as possible, since we have only 12 days in camp which I believe is very short,” she said.

As Malkia Strikers trainer,  Wanja is in charge of the players fitness. She is also helping out the setters since that’s the greatest role she served in the team in her playing days.

And does she feel the team has great potential to make it to Ghana from the Africa Games?

Yes, Wanja believes Malkia Strikers will definitely defend the trophy in the Egypt showpiece which is also acts as the Africa Zone Five showdown.

“The team has both youth and experience, the young players are not only gelling well but they are also passionate about the game,” she said.

According to the long and elaborate plans that Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) has with the world volleyball governing body FIVB, Wanja believes Malkia Strikers who have already qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympics will be best placed to earn at least a set in the Summer Games.

Malkia Strikers will use the qualifiers in Egypt, Africa Games in Ghana, East African Games in Rwanda and subsequent elaborate trainings in Finland and Serbia to prepare for the Olympics.

“It will be such an historic moment for us a tleast to pull a set at the Olympics, I believe we will perform better, this is very possible,” she said.

Upon her retirement from the active volleyball, what has she been up to?

Wanja says she has been a fitness trainer and gym instructor, especially within the corporate world.

She has been training the likes of Kenya Pipeline who have appreciated her services.

In her playing days, Wanja was famously known for her iconic  jersey number 7.

Her illustrious career saw her become a household name among volleyball enthusiasts in Kenya, Africa, and beyond, amassing a treasure trove of accolades that glittered both nationally and internationally.

Her presence is not just a comeback; it’s a testament to the enduring legacy of a true volleyball icon, shaping the future of the sport she so dearly loves.


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