Outcry as top KVF officials join Malkia Strikers bench

Charles Nyaberi

Kenya Volleyball Federation President Charles Nyaberi (left) deputy, Paul Bitok. Mr Nyaberi is Olympics-bound Malkia Strikers' team manager. 

Photo credit: Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group

Pressure is mounting on the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) President, Charles Nyaberi and his deputy, Paul Bitok, to relinquish their positions from the national women's volleyball team, Malkia Strikers’ technical bench for the Paris Olympic Games.

Nyaberi and Bitok were selected as team manager and assistant coach, respectively, during a KVF Executive meeting held in Nairobi on Sunday.

The two will form part of the technical bench alongside coach Japheth Munala(head coach) and decorated former national team setter, Janet Wanja (trainer). However, the move has sparked an uproar.

Bitok defended the decision, saying he has unfinished business with the team.

"It is important to keep the same technical team having worked with high performance coaches seconded by FIVB to Kenya. The team needs a smooth transition," said the former national women's team coach.

Demanding an explanation

A highly placed source in the Ministry of Sports told Nation Sport that Sports Cabinet Secretary, Ababu Namwamba, on Monday called the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) officials, who are in Miramas, France, demanding an explanation on the appointments. Ababu has ordered a meeting with the officials who are expected in the country today.

A NOC-K official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they would comment on the issue once they return, but said they are keen to find out what necessitated the changes in the officials of the team.

Nation Sport understands that KVF Vice Chair, Gender and Minority, Mududa Waweru, had been picked to be Malkia Strikers team manager during a November 25, 2023 executive meeting. In a letter addressed to NOC-K by Omulele and Tollo Advocates on May 8, the law firm states that their client (Mududa) was removed from her position as the team manager and replaced by Nyaberi.

The letter says that KVF had improperly retained her name as a chaperone contrary to the minutes and meetings held by KVF on November 25. The development comes after last week's decision by KVF to opt out of the Sh88 million technical support programme from the Fédération Internationale de Volleyball, commonly known by the acronym FIVB, which sent shockwaves in the local sports fraternity.

The FIVB Volleyball Empowerment was a part of FIVB President Dr Ary Graça’s Nucleus plan, to mark a new era of volleyball development around the world.

Sharpen Kenya’s national teams

The Sh88 million International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Volleyball Empowerment Programme was meant to sharpen Kenya’s national teams, especially the African champions, Malkia Strikers, ahead of major global competitions.

Next in line for the national women’s team is the Olympic Games in Paris from July 26 to August 11.

KVF demanded equal representation on the technical bench during the Paris 2024 Olympic Games, pushing for at least three local coaches to work alongside three Brazilian coaches. As part of the FIVB programme, Malkia Strikers would also have camped in Finland for a month-long residential training in preparation for the Paris Olympics. FIVB, however, stood its ground, offering two positions for local coaches, a proposal that was rejected by KVF’s National Executive Committee. KVF failed to sign an MoU to continue with the FIVB partnership, in a statement published on their website on April 25, and chose to respect their decision.

The bungled technical assistance programme was conceived in 2020 and started in 2021 just before the delayed 2020 Olympics. Egypt’s men’s volleyball team joined the programme last year.

Former KVF Secretary General Evans Wasike said, " The National Executive Committee is responsible for entering teams into competitions, including naming the officials who prepare and accompany the teams to the competitions. Changing officials is within their prerogative. It is only natural that those affected feel denied."

"Was the right procedure followed in making these appointments by NEC? Are the KVF president and his deputy president allowed to be part of the technical bench? posed Nairobi Prisons team manager Robson Okoth.