Nakuru sitting volleyball team ground turned into market as virus bites

Members of the Nakuru sitting volleyball team train at Afraha Annex in Nakuru under coach Florence Ofwenje (with a white ribbon) on October 9, 2018. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The cadets decided to build an open high-rise modern shade supported by massive steel beams inside Afraha Annex to accord the players a conducive environment
  • Today, the cemented playing surface that has been a training ground for more than 40 sitting volleyball players has been reduced to a makeshift open market, thanks to coronavirus pandemic
  • Nakuru County government has converted the facility into one big open air market as it shifted Wakulima Market to the area from Nakuru’s Central Business District

In 2014, members of Army Cadet Force from the United Kingdom were passing near Afraha Stadium in Nakuru and they found a team of disabled athletes playing sitting volleyball on a rough and patched grounds.

The determined players were having a rough time controlling the ball and this made the British cadets to halt their journey to small care homes. Instead, they watched the training for several hours. They were shocked by the poor state of the pitch. Watching the determined members of Nakuru Sitting Volleyball Team challenge for the ball, they decided to give them memorable gift.

The cadets decided to build an open high-rise modern shade supported by massive steel beams inside Afraha Annex to accord the players a conducive environment where they could play sitting volleyball, develop their talents and take charge of their destiny.

Today, the cemented playing surface that has been a training ground for more than 40 sitting volleyball players has been reduced to a makeshift open market, thanks to coronavirus pandemic.

“If the Army Cadet Force were to visit the site today, they would be shocked to learn that the facility they helped construct in a record four weeks has been turned into a market,” Fred Omondi, a member of the sitting volleyball team, says.

The usually clean and well maintained playing surface is littered with vegetable waste. In one corner, there is a pool of stagnant water.

Members of the Nakuru sitting volleyball team train at Afraha Annex in Nakuru under coach Florence Ofwenje (with a white ribbon) on October 9, 2018. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Nakuru County government has converted the facility into one big open air market as it shifted Wakulima Market to the area from Nakuru’s Central Business District. All this is in a bid to contain the spread of coronavirus, and to enforce social distancing rules.

Team coach Florence Ofwenje said their training programme has been put on hold and all players have been told to stay at home.

“We were training for an open tournament in Trans Nzoia County but we have been forced to cancel training until further notice,” said Ofwenje. George Otieno, chairman of Nakuru County Sitting Volleyball Team, said their training schedule is in disarray. He said once the crisis is over, the playing surface will not be ready for use as it will need a massive repair due to poor handling by the traders.

“The devolved unit should prioritise repair work on the sitting volleyball facility at Afraha Annex. It is the only playing surface for the disabled in Nakuru County constructed to standard,” said Otieno.

“Although the county owns the ground, the infrastructure was constructed by UK Army Cadets. The county government should give it top priority as the donors who came to our rescue us may feel cheated if we continue to play in poor conditions after the crisis,” added Otieno. The team has represented the county in many local tournaments, winning many tournaments that has seen the county earn fame in sporting activities involving the disabled.

KEEP FIT

Otieno said many disabled persons who do not necessarily play sitting volleyball use Afraha Annex to keep fit on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“I am on a wheel chair and as part of my physiotherapy, I have joined sitting volleyball team every Thursday to do some exercise but with the venue converted into an open market, I have nowhere to go and do the exercise,” said Mary Kamau.

Besides using the venue to sharpen their skills, many of the disabled persons use it as a meeting point. Well-wishers out to assist the team with playing kits and financial support had also been going straight to the venue since the team has no physical address.

“Many Good Samaritans have kept off since the playing surface was converted into a market,” said coach Ofwenje.

The deadly virus has seen the team suspend its calendar of events, the first casualty being an inter-counties tournament in Bungoma early this month.

Others slated for June, August and December will also be rescheduled. A trip to USA for friendly matches is also postponed. The team has two players in the national team - Margaret Wanjiru and Fredrick Omondi.

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