What you need to know:
- The national women's volleyball team have had their best preparations for a global competition in ages
In Amsterdam, Netherlands
Malkia Strikers Tuesday arrived at the Schiphol Airport here in Amsterdam, Netherlands on time for their seventh appearance at the FIVB World Championships.
The national women's volleyball team have had their best preparations for a global competition in ages having trained for two months in São Paulo, Brazil before spending a week in Belgrade, Serbia courtesy of sponsors Mozzart Bet.
The two-month training was organised by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) through the Volleyball Empowerment Programme and supported by the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K).
Assistant coach Paul Bitok said they are impressed by the team’s progress citing the 3-0 win over Serbia B last Sunday as evidence that the girls are in the right shape for the global competition.
“It’s the first time we have good preparations for an international competition and we are happy with the level. We have played over 15 friendly matches and it’s important that we won the last one since it has given the girls the right mood for the Championship,” said Bitok. “The World Championships will be competitive but we are ready for it. We want to qualify for the second round.”
Bitok noted that the one-week camp in Serbia helped the team acclimatise to European weather conditions. He revealed that they are in negotiations with two countries to play friendly matches ahead of their opener against hosts Netherlands on Friday.
“It’s important that we arrive early because there are some areas we need to polish like reception and defence before our first match."
“Generally, there has been a lot of improvement in almost all departments like service, reception, attack and blocking but we need to push it more to be at around 70 per cent. We are talking to some countries like Canada and Colombia who are in different pools to see if we can play friendly matches with them. It will help us to fine-tune for the Netherlands match,” observed Bitok.
Kenya are in Pool ‘A’ alongside hosts Netherlands, European champions Italy, Cameroon, Belgium and Puerto Rico. Malkia Strikers need to win at least two matches to be among the four teams that will qualify for the second round.
Skipper Mercy Moim said the team is in high spirits after sponsors Mozzart Bet Tuesday promised the team $1,000 (Sh120,000) bonus each if they reach the second round for the first time in history.
“We are grateful to FIVB, NOC-K and our sponsors for the support they have given us. It’s the best preparation the team has ever had and the girls are in high spirits. The bonuses promised by Mozzart Bet have just come at the right time and it’s a good challenge to us as a team,” said Moim.
“We also appeal to the new government led by President (William) Ruto to come on board and play their part by paying our allowances.
“We have been away from Kenya for almost three months and some of us are parents with responsibilities back home. We are now in competition mood and we don’t want our focus to be diverted. The team is ready to make Kenya proud and make history in the Netherlands.”
Kenya will be based at Apeldoorn but will play their Pool ‘A’ matches at Arnhem.
Outside hitters: Mercy Moim (captain), Noel Murambi, Meldine Sande, Veronica Adhiambo
Middle blockers: Gladys Ekaru, Belinda Barasa, Edith Wisa, Lorine Chebet
Setters: Veronica Kilabat, Emmaculate Nekesa
Opposites: Sharon Chepchumba, Violet Makuto
Liberos: Aggripina Kundu, Yvonne Wavinya
Team Manager-Roberto Opice
Head coach-Luizomar de Moura
Assistant coaches-Paul Bitok, Jefferson Arosti, Japheth Munala
Strength and conditioning coach-Marcelo Vitorino
Statistician-Leonard Lopes Barbosa