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Uhuru’s order throws volleyball into confusion

VOLLEYBALL AND HANDBALL By Elvince Joshua | April 1st 2021
Kenya Pipeline’s Sinaida Yvonne (centre) and Winnie Odhiambo playing against Lorine Kae of Kenya Prison Women in their KFV League match at Nyayo National Stadium on Friday, March 19, 2021. [jonah Onyango, Standard]

The latest suspension of all sporting activities by President Uhuru Kenyatta has thrown Kenyan volleyball fraternity into a muddle ahead of the forthcoming CAVB Africa Club Championship.

Six teams, led by the Kenya Volleyball Federation League (KVF) men’s defending champions- General Service Unit (GSU), debutantes Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), KCB, Kenya Pipeline and Kenya Prisons (men and women) were set to take part in the month-long event due in Sousse, Tunisia. 

The two championships that will act as qualifiers to the 2021 FIVB World Club Cup Championship, will run from April 16-28 (men) and April 19-May 1, 2021, for the women’s edition.

But the much-expected return of KCB’s to the continental stage has been thrown into serious qualms following the Covid-19 second public Order by Uhuru last week.

The Bankers were hoping to better their 2010 Bronze medal in Vacoas-Pheonix, Mauritius, but with the team having suspended training, chances are they will not be traveling to Tunisia unless a solution is found.

“I can’t say that we are out of the event yet. We will know the true position in the next two to three weeks,” head coach Japheth Munala said, adding that: “We can’t train at the moment because of the directive by the president.”

KCB earned a ticket to Africa’s most prestigious inter-club competition after finishing second behind the league winner Kenya Prisons in the 2019 season.

No male Kenyan team has ever taken part at the world stage, though GSU coach Gideon Tarus is upbeat that the bad record could be improved in the next couple of years.

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“One thing I’m sure about is that very soon a Kenyan club will win Club Championship and play at the World stage,” added Tarus who won the league in 2019 with GSU.

Kenya Prison Women's Chemutai in KVF League match against Kenya Pipeline at Nyayo National Stadium. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Tarus, whose best performance with GSU at the continental stage was a fifth-place finish in 2007, is aiming at a medal bracket even as he builds on a team to conquer Africa in years to come.

“We have a young crop of players whom I believe have the potential of winning the elusive club championship in the next two to three years.”

The Paramilitary side have invented a new training technique with mandatory bubble training inside the GSU camp at Ruaraka.

“We are still waiting for the Ministry (of sports) to give direction, but as it stands, there are signs that we will be participating in the event. We are training without interacting with our families,” said Tarus whose best performance at the event still remains a quarter-final berth.

“We wanted to play a friendly with at least a local team, but that will not be possible under the prevailing circumstances. So my best ‘friendly’ will be to win the first match because I want to use it to gauge my players as I head into the next match. If I manage to grab a win in the first match then I can tell you that we’ll have a good tournament,” add the record league winning coach.

The winner of Africa Club Champions will represent the continent at the 2021 FIVB World Club Championships.

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