The Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani indoor arena came alive yesterday as Kenya Volleyball Federation women’s National League play-offs began.
On offer at the three-day event are two automatic tickets to this year’s African Clubs Championship. Defending champions Kenya Prisons, former champions Kenya Pipeline, African clubs champions KCB Volleyball and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) are the teams vying for top accolades.
Women’s volleyball has long drawn more attention. The Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) and to some extent the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) as well as the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) have given women’s volleyball prominence in terms of development and help.
For instance, the women’s play-offs have been moved to the spacious Kasarani indoor arena while the men’s play-offs were held last year at the Nyayo National Stadium gymnasium, where the General Service Unit (GSU) retained the title.
FIVB seconded Brazilian coaches to the national women’s team, Malkia Strikers, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, before having the team train in Brazil ahead of last year’s World Cup.
NOC-K also helped Malkia Strikers financially at the World Cup and handed the team a scholarship for the 2024 Paris Olympics. While support for women’s volleyball is welcome, the men’s team should not be left behind.
KCB won women's clubs’ continental title last year, the first time by a Kenyan club since Kenya Prisons in 2012. Kenyan clubs have won 16 times but men’s teams haven’t, with Kenya Prions coming close in 2011 when they settled for silver. The men’s national team had more players (seven) turn professional than the women’s side (three) last year, a clear indication that there is talent but limited exposure.
The key exports last year included Eliud Chirchir (Grand Nancy, France), Simion Kipkorir (Mouloudia Sportive de Bou Salem, Tunisia), Brian Melly (Omnisports De Meknes, Morocco) and Enock Mogeni (Oita Moyish, Japan).
The Malkia Strikers had Sharon Chepchumba, Veronica Adhiambo and Noel Murambi on the flights abroad.