What you need to know:
- The trio of Nekesa, Imodia and Kilabat will have to step up to fill the big shoes of veteran setter Jane Wacu who is unavailable for this assignment
- While expressing admiration for the long-serving Wacu, Luizomar is optimistic that the young setters will rise to the occasion after specialised training in Brazil
Luizomar de Moura is a confident man as he starts preparing the Malkia Strikers for the World Championships slated from September 23 to October 15 in Netherlands and Poland.
He will lead a delegation of four Brazilian coaches forwarded by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) to Kenya to take charge of the team’s two-month training for the global competition in Sao Paulo, Brazil as part of the Volleyball Empowerment Programme.
They will be assisted by local coaches Paul Bitok and Japheth Munala.
“I want to thank FIVB, KVF President (Waithaka) Kioni, National Olympic Committee of Kenya, CAVB President Bouchra (Hajij), and all volleyball fans for the support and the trust on our project. The camp in Brazil will be important to give us the chance expose our players to a high level of training to face the future challenges. The team and I will make you all proud!” vowed Luizomar on Tuesday after naming a fairly youthful provisional squad of 20 for the two-month camp in Brazil.
Perhaps with an eye on the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, Luizomar has opted to go for young blood with a few experienced players to guide them in Netherlands and Poland.
Leading the youngsters is Kenya Prisons outside hitter Meldinah Sande, Kenya Defence Forces setter Veronica Kilabat and libero Veronica Makokha as well as KCB trio of Magdaline Mwende, Belinda Barasa and Faith Imodia.
“There are two main objectives that can walk together. We are seeking for a great performance in the upcoming World Championships. Also it’s important to prepare the ladies for the future competitions. It’s a long way and a challenge but with the right plan and their commitment all is possible,” said Luizomar, who was also in charge of the team during the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games last year.
Kenya Pipeline middle blocker Trizah Atuka returns to the team after missing out on the Tokyo Olympics and Africa Nations Championship last year due to injury.
KCB setter Emmaculate Nekesa is also back to the national team fold after an impressive performance in the recently concluded Africa Clubs Championship won by the Bankers.
The trio of Nekesa, Imodia and Kilabat will have to step up to fill the big shoes of veteran setter Jane Wacu who is unavailable for this assignment.
While expressing admiration for the long-serving Wacu, Luizomar is optimistic that the young setters will rise to the occasion after specialised training in Brazil.
“I have a lot of respect for Jane Wacu, an experienced athlete that for many years served as inspiration to young players. Emma (Nekesa) was in the preparation for Tokyo where she could learn and grow. Since then, she has improved her physical and technical side. It’s proven by her performance during the Africa (Clubs) Championship in Tunisia. I’m very happy with what I have seen so far and her potential to continue improving,” explained the Brazilian.
“The selected setters will have a special program at Brazilian camp. Besides the technical training, they will be learning new tendencies of modern volleyball,” he added.
Skipper Mercy Moim will be relied upon for leadership alongside Noel Murambi, Edith Wisa and Atuka as FIVB continues with its project to transform Kenya into a global volleyball powerhouse.
Luizomar admits there was need for continuity in the team after an impressive outing in Tokyo Olympics and has tipped the team to cause upsets at the World Championships.
“The world volleyball community was very happy and surprised with the Malik Strikers performance in Tokyo Olympics. However the preparation suffered a bit due to Covid-19 where unfortunately the team wasn’t able to play friendly matches. This time we will have the opportunity to train alongside players from Osasco, one of the greatest clubs in the world and play (friendly matches against) South American national teams such as Colombia, Peru and Brazil U-21,” he revealed of the camp to be hosted by Sao Paulo-based Osasco Volleyball Club.
It was put to Luizomar that Kenya has never made it to the second round at the World Championships but the experienced coach is not losing sleep over it.
“The World Championships is a major volleyball event therefore to advance to second round will be a great act. To make it possible hard work and commitment from all those involved will be essential,” he underlined.
Kenya is in Pool ‘A’ of the World Championships alongside hosts Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Puerto Rico and Cameroon. The top four teams in the pool will qualify for the second round.
Outside hitters: Mercy Moim (KCB), Noel Murambi, Veronica Adhiambo (Kenya Pipeline), Pamela Jepkirui, Meldinah Sande, Yvonne Wavinya (Kenya Prisons).
Middel blockers: Trizah Atuka, Gladys Ekaru (Kenya Pipeline), Edith Wisa, Belinda Barasa, Magdaline Mwende (KCB), Lorine Chebet (Kenya Prisons)
Opposite attacker: Sharon Chepchumba (KCB), Emmaculate Chemtai (Kenya Prisons), Violet Makuto (Kenya Pipeline)
Setters: Emmaculate Nekesa, Faith Imodia (KCB), Veronica Kilabat (KDF)
Liberos: Aggripina Kundu (Kenya Pipeline), Veronica Makokha (KDF)