Kenya target global stage: Unseeded Kenya hope to secure their spot in the netball world ranking

By Elizabeth Mburugu: Sunday, August 5th 2018 at 00:07 GMT +3 | Volleyball and Handball
Captain Parin Simiyu of Kenya Netball team train in Nairobi ahead of World Cup qualifiers to be held in Zambia. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

After missing out for many years, Kenya will make their first attempt to qualify for the International Netball Federation 2019 World Cup set for July 12-21 at the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England.

The Kenyan women will launch their quest for one of the two tickets to the global showpiece in Africa Qualifiers to be staged from 13-18 August at the Olympic Youth Development Centre in Lusaka, Zambia. They will face off with six other countries among them Africa’s second ranked nation Malawi, who have already qualified for the World Cup but will be battling for continental glory.

Kenya, the only unseeded team in the tournament, head to the championship with the underdogs tag hoping to earn their place in the world ranking. Team Kenya Captain Paril Simiyu said despite having been unable to compete internationally for many years, they were determined to seize the opportunity.

“We are the only unseeded side in the competition but we are determined to earn our place in the global rankings. We just have to make sure that we make every match count,” Simiyu said. She said even though they seem to be the less experienced side, they must stand out as serious contenders for tickets to the global event.

Kenya will be up against Africa’s second-ranked team Malawi in sixth place, Uganda who are seeded seventh globally and who will also be seeking to defend the title they won in 2016 and 2017. Others in contention for the World Cup ticket are Zimbabwe ranked 13th, Zambia (17), Botswana (22) and 28th placed Namibia. The team will be under the tutelage of Coach Jimia Ali Babala.

Kenya will rely on the services of seasoned players such as Simiyu, Pauline Ramadhan, Florence Ndombi, Elsa Ndong Lilian Mboga and Cynthia Wanyama among others. Babala pointed out that they expect stiff competition from all the teams but Uganda and Malawi are a major threat to their ambitions.

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Kenya will also be sending a team to Burundi for the East Africa netball championships. The squad that’s captained by Linda Okingo will be battling for the regional title against neighbours Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and hosts Burundi. Okingo said they were focused on staging good show.

According to the Kenya Netball Federation Secretary General Millicent Busolo, Kenya could not take part in international events before because they were not affiliated to international bodies. “We have started our road to recovery because we are now affiliated to the continental and world bodies. Our players will now have an opportunity to compete internationally and this will help improve our standards.”

She said they were keen to improve the local league so players can compete regularly. “We are working tirelessly to have a vibrant league,” she said.