To Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) president Waithaka Kioni, the late Barnabas Cheserem Bargoria is the man who left a mark in the game in the country.
The former National Irrigation Board CEO passed on November 14 at the Nairobi Hospital and will be buried on Wednesday at his home in Kuinet Sub-Location, Uasin Gishu County.
It is during Bargoria’s spell as the federation’s president and African Volleyball Confederation (CAVB) vice president (between 1989 and 1992) that both the national teams and clubs stamped their authority in continental assignments.
But even as the volleyball fraternity continues to mourn the legend, his family is still struggling to raise funds to offset his Sh17 million medical bill. The family has planned a fundraiser in Nairobi today.
Bargoria is best remembered for popularising the game due to his vast connections with the political system as well as lobbying for Kenya to host the first joint African Club Championships (men and women) in 1990 where Posta won the women’s title and Pipeline finished third.
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He is also credited with reviving KVF’s relationship with Japan that saw the Japanese government send coach Hudoka Onishi and six other volunteer tacticians to help train Kenyan sides.
Onishi was attached to Posta women’s team for two years where he groomed players including Margaret Indakala, Catherine Mabwi, Esther Barno, Nancy Lusanji, Dorcas Ndasaba, Dorcas Murunga and Mary Ayuma. The other six coaches were sent out to the regional teams.
The late Gilbert Ohanya, Abdul Muge and Sammy Kirongo are some of the coaches who benefited from Onishi’s expertise while at Posta.
And Kioni, who served as Malkia Strikers team manager during Bargoria’s short but successful stint, termed him as a revolutionary man.
“Bargoria was a great leader. He had good connections with the political system, which saw him bring much support to our volleyball programmes,” Kioni told Standard Sports.
“It is through his support and involvement that the national women’s team qualified for the world championships. He was a man who was committed to developing volleyball and used his contacts and influence positively in favour of volleyball," said Kioni.
Paying tribute to his mentor, KVF vice president Charles Nyaberi recalled how Bargoria’s assumption of office in 1989 was the turning point for the Kenyan volleyball before wrangles within the federation forced him out in 1993.
“Bargoria was a mentor to many of us who are still active in volleyball. He was instrumental in raising the bar in volleyball. The revolution, expansion and technical depth were all started during his tenure,” said Nyaberi.
“Our turning point was in 1990 when he lobbied for the hosting of the joint men and women’s Club Championships in Nairobi."
The family's spokesperson Micah Kigen has called for help in today’s fundraiser.