William Ruto’s presidency godsend for volleyball fraternity

President-elect William Ruto making his address during the inaugural meeting with Kenya Kwanza leaders.

President-elect William Ruto at his Karen Residence on September 5, 2022.

Photo credit: Francis Nderitu | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Over to you Mr President, the sports fraternity is pregnant with expectation!

Chamgei His Excellency!

By the time I pen this column next week, you will no longer be President-elect but His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya. Therefore, I feel compelled to address you by your rightful title. Indeed you’ve put up a good fight to ascend to the highest office in the land against all odds, becoming the fifth President of Kenya.

You became the Fifth on the fifth of September, making history as the first individual to win a presidential election in Kenya at his first attempt. Kongoi Dr William Samoei Ruto!

In your address to the nation last Monday, you correctly said that, “Kenyans are united in the quest for a better society that is kinder to its children, gentler on the vulnerable, respectful of their rights and committed to serving them.”

Mr President, I choose to dwell on the last part because your campaign was hinged on the ‘Bottom-Up’ economic model which promised to uplift the ordinary citizen (read Hustler) to a position of economic freedom by giving equal opportunities to all.

Yours was a promise of selfless service to the great people of Kenya and that’s why the sports fraternity is eagerly looking forward to better times ahead.

Indeed, as your digital strategist Dennis Itumbi would say “Freedom is Coming”. I want to believe it has finally arrived.

Bill, as your dear wife and First Lady Rachel affectionately refers to you, I know sports is dear to your heart having played volleyball at Wareng High School.

I will speak for volleyball today because it’s my first love, a sport that I’ve played since I was eight and has made me who I am today. As you are aware, the national women’s volleyball team will participate in the FIVB World Championships in Netherlands and Poland from September 23 to October 15.

This is the biggest volleyball event in the world and it’s the equivalent of a Fifa World Cup in football.

But before I delve into this matter, please allow me Sir to give you a brief orientation about our beloved sport. I’m told it’s been decades since you last played volleyball. The position you used to play is no longer known as ‘strong’ or left attacker but outside hitter. ‘Centres’ are now referred to as middle blockers while ‘rights’ are called opposites.

We no longer play the ‘chance lost’ system but the ‘rally’ system. The rest has remained the same only that the colour of the ball is no longer white but yellow and blue.

Back to the World Championships. The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has ensured Malkia Strikers have had the best preparations in ages. The team has been training in Brazil for the last two months and played over 10 friendly matches to gauge themselves.

After the Supreme Court ruling that upheld your victory, you tweeted: “My election confirms that it is possible to rise above your background, economic status and social standing to the highest possible point, including leadership of this great country.”

Indeed, your latest triumph is a source of encouragement for every Kenyan and I’m sure the girls feel inspired as they look to make history in Netherlands by qualifying for the second round of the World Championships. With the two-months training in São Paulo having whipped them into tip-top shape, the girls are raring to go. But there is one missing ingredient - motivation!

It’s exactly six months today since Kenya Volleyball Federation presented a budget of Sh43 million to the Ministry of Sports for this assignment yet no support has been forthcoming.

The girls are yet to receive their allowances in full which is slowly eating into their morale just a fortnight to the competition. A disgruntled on-form player is like a sleek Mercedes Benz with a faulty engine. So good on the outside but irredeemably poor on the inside. Just as you used to swing with bemusing speed while attacking the ball during your playing days, I urge you to quickly sort this issue to allow the girls focus fully on the task at hand since a second round berth is certainly within reach.

In fact, you can even invite the team to State House and personally assure them that your administration will take care of the welfare of sportspersons as you officially flag them off to Netherlands.

Your Excellency, your prompt action on this matter will not only give hope to the sports fraternity but also lay down a marker of what to expect in your presidency - a president who will have a hands-on approach on matters sports.

As I wind up, I’m optimistic Kenya will rise to become a global force in volleyball during your reign. Just like President Paul Kagame helped improve volleyball standards in Rwanda, we will also be counting on your support, as someone who understands and loves this game.

Charity begins at home. It’s not a coincidence that a global volleyball competition is the first major assignment of your administration as far as sports is concerned.

I know you mean well for sports in this country. Over to you Mr President, the sports fraternity is pregnant with expectation!