National women’s volleyball team setter Janet Wanja has dismissed reports that she will retire after the upcoming World Championships set to be held in Japan between September 29 and October 20.
Wanja, 34, is the most experienced player in the Malkia Strikers squad having started her international career during the 2004 Athens Olympic Games.
With her former teammates Diana Khisa, Lydia Maiyo, Brackcedes Agala having phased out of the national team, Wanja believes that she still has a lot to offer.
“I have thought about it (retirement) because there is life after volleyball. I just don’t want to retire because of age. I have seen players from Brazil play at the age of 45, so it’s all about the mindset," Wanja told Nation Sport on Friday.
“I want to thank God for the far I have come, it’s not easy. It takes a lot of discipline, commitment and belief. I still have the energy to keep going and my challenge to the upcoming players is to fight for my position. I will not give it up easily by retiring early,” she added.
Alongside captain Mercy Moim, she will be looked upon to provide leadership on the court as Kenya makes a return to the global competition after an eight-year absence.
“It’s not really a burden. It’s a challenge that I am looking forward to because we have new blood in the team. That was a great move from the coaches because these players are the future of this team,” said Wanja, in praise of youngsters Sharon Chepchumba, Lorine Chebet and Emmaculate Chemtai.
Meanwhile, coach Japheth Munala is hopeful that their 10-day camp in Japan will place them in good stead confident of qualifying for the second round of the competition.
“We have prepared very well and this camp will help us acclimatise and get into the competition mood. There are two teams that we have faced in the Grand Prix and we know they are almost our class. If we beat them, then we will qualify for the second round,” said Munala, after his side overcame local side Kenya Pipeline 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-12) in a friendly at the Kasarani Indoor Arena on Friday morning.
Kenya will leave the country for Japan on September 18, where they will be hosted by legendary Japanese coach Sadatoshi Sugawara.
They are in Group D together with Brazil, Dominican Republic, Kazakhstan, Puerto Rico and Serbia. The top four teams will qualify to the second round from the group.
Cameroon is the other African team that will represent the continent.
Malkia Strikers Squad
Setters: Jane Wacu, Janet Wanja
Middle Blockers: Trizah Atuka , Edith Wisa, Lorine Chebet, Chrsitine Siwa
Left Attackers: Mercy Moim, Noel Murambi, Sharon Chepchumba, Leonida Kasaya
Opposite: Violet Makuto , Emmaculate Chemtai
Libero: Elizabeth Wanyama, Aggripina Kundu