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Why Club Championship triumph has come as a relief for KCB Bank

KCB Women’s Volleyball team celebrate on arrival at JKIA following their win in the finals of the Africa Women’s Volleyball club competition in Tunisia. June 2, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

It was all joy as the 2022 African Club Championship Women’s Volleyball winners KCB Bank returned from Tunisia yesterday.

And this was after their historic 3-1 (25-18,25-22,11-25,28-26) victory over eight-time champions Al Ahly of Egypt in the final on Tuesday.

It was a moment of sheer excitement and relief at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport as they joined traditional dancers who were at hand to welcome them.

To achieve this memorable feat, the bankers had to wait for 16 years. 

The title win did not only come as a relief to coach Japheth Munala and his squad but the entire country after a nine-year trophy drought for Kenyan clubs. 

And it is because of this reason, the current KCB team will need a t least a chapter when the history of the Kenyan volleyball is written.

Kenya Pipeline, who won bronze medal after beating dethroned holders Carthage Club of Tunisia 3-2 in the third place playoffs and fifth-placed Prisons Kenya also arrived back in the country yesterday.

Before reclaiming the title they first clinched in 2006, it’s their quarterfinals opponents Prisons Kenya, who had won the last continental trophy for Kenya way back in 2013.

At first, nobody had given KCB a chance and it even became complicated after a 3-1 defeat to Carthage at the group stage. But for Munala and his players the defeat appears to have been a blessing in disguise as it prepared them for the next battles. 

While this was the only continental trophy missing in his cabinet after losing 3-1 to Al Ahly in the 2016 final with his former club Kenya Pipeline, Malkia Strikers captain Mercy Moim was more than grateful to have inspired the bankers to their second title triumph on her return to the club.

“I failed to win this title with one of the best squads while at Pipeline, but I’m grateful I have done it with KCB,” said Munala during yesterday’s homecoming party at the KCB Headquarters in Nairobi.

“I’m happy and proud of my players to have finally brought the trophy back home after several near misses.

“I now feel motivated to work harder. Of course we saw it coming and the defeat to Carthage helped us tighten the loose ends.”

He continued: “Our objective was to go out there and put Kenya on the continental map. Having conquered Africa, we have come back home, and I couldn’t be prouder of this team who demonstrated resilience, hard work, and teamwork throughout the competition.”

Moim, who was named the best left attacker at the tournament, was part of the KCB team that claimed the title in 2006. She rejoined KCB in 2020 from national champions Prisons alongside her current club captain Edith Wisa and Sharon Chepchumba. 

Interestingly, Chepchumba and Wisa also bagged the Most Valuable Player and best blocker awards in Kelibia respectively. 

“I was at KCB when we first won the championship and it has happened again on my return. Indeed, God is faithful,” Moim said.

Instrumental Chepchumba simply said: ‘‘I wanted to leave a mark in the tournament and I’m glad we did it as a team. As champions, we are not going to look back as we settle down to our league.”

“Victory is sweet. You cannot simply put in words the amazing feeling you get, especially after such an arduous competition. We have shown that it is possible if you work for it. I am proud of all of my teammates and I want to thank our technical bench for their prowess and guidance that helped us clinch this prestigious title,” added captain Edith Wisa.

KCB Group CEO Paul Russo said: “After the long wait, pursuit, and resilience, we triumphed. This goes a long way in further building the heritage of Kenyan teams in global competitions.”