Bitok steps down from Malkia Strikers' technical bench amid controversy

Malkia Strikers and coach Paul Bitok celebrate after beating Cameroon 3-2 during the Africa qualifiers in Yaoundé, Cameroon on January 7, 2020. [FILE]

Paul Bitok, the Vice President of the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF), has officially resigned from his position as the assistant coach of the national women's volleyball team, Malkia Strikers.

This decision follows a significant public outcry over the involvement of KVF officials in the technical bench of the national team.

Bitok's resignation comes after extensive consultations with key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Sports, the National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOCK), Malkia Strikers players, and his own family, friends, and fans.

In his statement, Bitok expressed that the strong sentiments and concerns raised about the composition of Malkia Strikers' technical team for the upcoming Paris Olympics were a primary factor in his decision.

"I have elected to step down from my position as the Assistant Coach of the National Team. I have also stepped down from an earlier position offered to me by the Kenya Volleyball Federation to be part of the technical team," said Bitok.

He further clarified, "I didn't impose nor appoint myself to the team but have been a part of them before and during the Olympics qualifiers in Cameroon - long before I was elected KVF deputy president"

Bitok's tenure with Malkia Strikers has been marked by significant achievements, including the team's qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, winning the 2019 African Games title, participating in the 2022 World Championships in the Netherlands, and clinching the 2023 Africa Nations Cup crown.

Reflecting on these accomplishments, Bitok noted, "Paris would have been the culmination of the eight-year project for Malkia Strikers that I have been honoured to spearhead. I thank God that we have been able to achieve various milestones during this period"

Despite stepping down, Bitok emphasized his unwavering commitment to the sport and his desire to continue contributing to its growth in his capacity as KVF deputy president and technical advisor.

He assured, "I promise to exude the same zeal and passion for volleyball with which I have previously exercised my duties as a player and coach. I look forward to drawing upon the priceless knowledge and experience I have garnered from the last two decades to play my part in taking Kenyan volleyball to higher levels"

In his heartfelt message to the Malkia Strikers, Bitok expressed his confidence in the team's ability to make Kenya and Africa proud at the Paris Olympics and the Challenger Cup in the Philippines.

"We have come a long way and grown together in leaps and bounds. I have full belief in you to make Kenya and Africa proud when you take to the court in Paris," he said

As Bitok steps away from the technical bench, he leaves behind a legacy of dedication and success that has significantly shaped the trajectory of Kenyan volleyball.

His departure marks the end of an era but also signals a new chapter for both Bitok and the Malkia Strikers as they prepare for future challenges and opportunities.

Bitok’s final words encapsulate his enduring support for the sport: "To all volleyball enthusiasts, let us join hands and develop the sport in every way possible so that millions of talent within our borders may reap from their labour. God bless you all; God bless Kenyan volleyball"

Meanwhile, the resignation of Bitok is sparking mixed reactions within the volleyball community.

While some see it as a necessary step to address the concerns of conflict of interest and ensure the integrity of the team’s technical bench, others view it as a significant loss given Bitok’s extensive experience and proven track record.

By AFP 1 hr ago
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