The senior national volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, leaves for Japan Thursday evening where it will compete in the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship.
A communication hitch between Kenya Volleyball Federation and the sports ministry almost scuttled the team’s travel plans as the national federation was yet to receive air tickets by late Monday afternoon.
KVF communications manager, Isaac Tirop, however confirmed receipt of the tickets at around 3.30pm Monday and confirmed that the team will leave on Thursday.
However, as they embark on the three-day trip to Tokyo, the players have expressed disappointment with what they termed ‘neglect from the sports ministry’ with regard to their preparations for the tournament.
Last week, award-winning setter Jane Wacu took a swipe at the sports ministry for neglecting the team.
“Cameroon are abroad for specialized training sponsored by their government, that is why they keep beating us these days,” Wacu said.
“The only thing we have is support from the fans, and from National Oil who are our sponsors. I am sure if our fans had money they would sponsor us so that we could have more befitting preparations,” she added.
Indeed the team has had disjointed preparations in the one month players have been in training at Kasarani, their training schedule only involving friendly matches with local men and women’s teams although they are preparing to play against the world’s top teams.
The team is expected in Japan for an intensive 10-day training camp hosted by Japanese coach Sadatoshi Sugawara.
The training sessions are meant to help the players acclimatise to the humid Japan weather. Four friendly matches have also been lined up for the team before the World Championship serves off on September 29. The tournament will run till October 20.
The team is aiming to qualify for the second round of the competition and to do that, Kenya must finish among the top four in Pool ‘D’ that also has Brazil, Serbia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Kazakhstan.
Kenya is returning to this global competition after an eight-year hiatus, and Malkia Strikers qualified as Africa’s representatives alongside Cameroon in the African qualifiers held last year. The team will play against some of the best sides in the world as far as volleyball is concerned.
As they make a fourth appearance at the World Championship, Malkia Strikers will face Kazakhstan in their first match on September 29 before confronting Serbia a day later. They will then face Puerto Rico, champions Brazil and Dominican Republic in other preliminary matches.
The competition brings together 24 teams who have been spread across four pools of six teams each. The 24 teams will face each other in a round robin format in the first round, with the top four teams from each pool advancing to the second round.