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Volleyball: Like old wine, former national women’s volleyball team captain gets better with age

Last updated 10 months ago | By Rodgers Eshitemi

Kenya Prisons centre attacker Brackcides Agala in action against Kenya Pipeline during the Africa Clubs Championships in Tunisia on April 13, 2017. Prisons won the match 3-2. [CAVB]

Like fine wine, Kenya Prisons middle-blocker Brackcides Agala appears to be getting better with age.

Just when everyone had written her off, the former national women’s volleyball team captain, popped up at the play-offs to produce an incredible individual performance that saw her win the Most Valuable Player award as well as helped Prisons retain their Kenya Volleyball Federation League title. 

Going by Agala’s current form and with regular Kenya Pipeline middle-blocker Trizah Atuka sidelined with a knee injury, it was almost certain that she could make the provisional Malkia Strikers squad for next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Cameroon.

In any case, the former Chamalières (France) star and mother of four has seen it all in her long volleyball career since joining the national team in 2007. But team selectors had other thoughts when naming the squad for the Tokyo Games.

This is not the first time the 35-year-old middle-blocker is being overlooked by the national team. 

She was dropped together with her then assistant captain Janet Wanja for the 2016 African Olympic qualifiers in Yaoundé after falling out with the federation.

The duo’s absence was heavily felt in Yaoundé as Malkia Strikers failed to clinch a direct ticket to Rio Olympic after finish third behind Cameroon and Egypt.

However, just like many of us, Agala will once again be a spectator at the upcoming Olympic qualifying tournament slated for January 2-10 after she failed to make a cut in the 19-member list released by the federation on Sunday at the Kasarani Gymnasium.

“In sports, age is just but a number and my performance at the play-offs was there for everyone to see. I’m glad my efforts were recognised through the MVP award,” Agala told Standard Sports moments after picking up her award on Sunday.

But the long-serving captain insists she hold no grudge against the national team selectors for not picking her for the upcoming qualifiers.

“I have no ill feelings towards whoever selected the squad because they did it with the interest of the team. Remember I missed out in the last Olympic qualifiers too,” said Agala.

“But I wish the team all the best. Let them train hard because the qualifiers will not be easy. It is my hope the management will give a chance to each player in the squad.”

Agala was part of the experienced squad that Prisons coach Josp Barasa went for just one season after ending Kenya Pipeline’s four-year dominance with a youthful team.

And indeed, Barasa’s gamble paid off as the seasoned players led by Agala, Lydia Maiyo, Mercy Moim, Elizabeth Wanyama, Edith Wisa, Emmaculate Chemtai, Joy Luseneka and Joan Chelagat achieved his dream of clinching back-to-back national league titles with the wardresses.

“I think the federation has seen what the experienced players have done for us,” said Prisons assistant coach Diana Khisa.

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