Malkia Strikers ‘no whipping girls any more’

 Agripina Kundu

Malkia Strikers’ Agripina Kundu (left) receiving the ball during training in Kurume City on July 13, 2021 as teammates Gladys Ekaru (right) and Noel Murambi provide cover. 

Photo credit: Edward Alusa | Team Kenya

What you need to know:

  • Kenya national women’s volleyball team coaches believe this time round things will be different and Kenya will claim an upset or two at the Olympic Games
  • Like stealth bombers on a mission, the Malkia Strikers are on the prowl and won’t hesitate picking the low-hanging fruits
  • On Wednesday, Malkia Strikers had a feel of the tournament venue, Tokyo’s spanking new Ariake Arena

In Tokyo

Many say Malkia Strikers always flatter to deceive, looking good on continental level only to degenerate to whipping girls on the global platform.

Well, the Kenya national women’s volleyball team coaches believe this time round things will be different and Kenya will claim an upset or two at the Olympic Games.

Thanks to a powerful technical bench featuring six experts seconded by International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), Malkia Strikers are sounding more confident.

“Technically, we are ok. We have worked on various departments," Paul Bitok, one of the two Kenyan coaches on the strong bench said after Thursday’s evening training session at Shiohama Civic Gym.

“Before, we used to lift weights and had two trainings per week. But once the Brazilians came in, we have been working daily, working on strength conditioning, which we were not used to.”

Like stealth bombers on a mission, the Malkia Strikers are on the prowl and won’t hesitate picking the low-hanging fruits.

“One of the strategies we have been working on is to target teams that are not ranked high,” Bitok explains.

“We study their games and some of the matches we have played against them.”

The former Kenya international, who had a rich stint as technical director in Rwanda, says they have studied hosts Japan, their opponents in the opening match next Monday, and scent an upset.

“We have watched some of their matches, especially when they played in Italy two months ago. We have analysed their statistics and videos of these three teams…”

On Wednesday, Malkia Strikers had a feel of the tournament venue, Tokyo’s spanking new Ariake Arena.

“The competition venue is one of the best. I think it is one of the leading because we have never seen this kind of a facility. It is the best arena that we have played in before,” Bitok observed.

“We really enjoyed on our first training yesterday (Thursday).”

Malkia Strikers players might be stars in their own right, but the first-time experience at the Olympic Village has turned them into kids in a candy shop.

“It is exciting for the players to be at the Olympics and to meet all the stars,” Bitok said.

“You turn left, right and you see stars. You see the players taking a selfie with stars of this world. Not only in volleyball, there is basketball, athletics.

“It also makes them feel they are on the same level. They realise they are stars when they are together.

“It will really motivate the young ones, the new generation to strive to participate at the Olympics.

“I am very happy that I am part of the generation that will change the volleyball standards in Kenya.”

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