Record men’s Kenya Volleyball Federation National League champions General Service Unit (GSU) are determined to retain their title as the transitional season serves off this weekend across five different venues in the country.
Though the paramilitary’s quest to lift a 15th title was shattered by the outbreak of the coronavirus last year, coach Gideon Tarus feels they still have a chance to rewrite history as the federation seeks to align the league with the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) calendar.
Initially, there were plans to have the league played on a home and away format in indoor arenas between October 2020 and May 2021, but the 2020 season was cancelled owing to the pandemic.
But even as the federation adopts the FIVB format that will see the league conclude in June, most of the matches will be played outdoors.
And having won the national title seven times as a player, Tarus is eager to lift his fourth title as a coach when GSU takes on Kenya Army in the opening match of Group Three at Kamiti Prisons Grounds on Saturday morning.
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They will then face-off against archrivals Kenya Prisons in the afternoon before clashing with Equity Bank the following day.
“We are back and ready to fight in the regular season and qualify for the play-offs after a long break occasioned by Covid-19. We have been training well since August and I believe the boys are raring to go. We want to go unbeaten this season and that journey starts on Saturday,” Tarus said.
“The level of competition will be a bit different from the previous season but on a personal level, I would be more than happy to lift my fourth consecutive title in the dugout. Everybody is in good shape and we are all determined to write another chapter in our history this season.”
Though there has been some confusion over the venues for the upcoming opening leg, Ismael Chege, the KVF organising secretary has stated that save for the Group Two Women’s matches that have been moved from KCB Sports Club to Nyayo Stadium (basketball gymnasium), the rest of the venues will host the fixtures as earlier planned.
“I can confirm that all matches at KCB Sports Club have been moved to Nyayo Stadium. That development came from the chair (Waithaka Kioni) because the venue had already been paid for. That’s the only change we have as far as my office is concerned,” said Chege.
“It is good to see some of the matches being played indoors, but the truth of the matter is Nyayo still doesn’t meet international standards and that’s why men teams can’t play there.”
Group Two (Women’s) is headlined by champions Kenya Prisons, KCB, Kenya Army and DCI.
Asked to explain the criteria used to select the other four venues that includes Kamiti Prisons, Shimo La Tewa Prisons, Eldoret GK Prisons and Kenya Pipeline Estate (Embakasi), Chege said: “I’m surprised with the recent complains on the venues yet this process was carried out in the right manner with all stakeholders involved.”