NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 25 – Kenya Pipeline volleyball players have been challenged to bring the elusive Africa Club championship trophy when the continental games takes place in April in Tunisia this year.
Pipeline will represent the country alongside Kenya Prisons in this year’s games and the KPC Corporate Communication officer, Jason Nyantino challenged the squad to end their 12 years drought in April by winning their eighth continental title.
Pipeline are just a win away from catching up with all record champions Al Ahly who boast of eight titles while Kenya Prisons have five continental trophies.
“Go out there and bring that gold. Some of you have offers (to play) outside the country but you turned it down because you love your country. You should use that same sense of patriotism to fight for the trophy knowing that you are representing Kenya,” Nyantino told the team during a breakfast meeting organised by the club’s sponsor, Kenya Pipeline Cooporation (KPC).
Pipeline dominated the continental club volleyball games in the 90s and early 2000 but they have failed to strike Africa gold since their last top podium finish in 2005 in Algeria.
The reigning national champions boast of seven continental titles since their first victory achieved at home in 1995 which they followed with another top podium finish in Nigeria the following year (1996).
But the team, which is headed by Japheth Munala, will be heading to Tunisia, a place they grabbed their third continental title in 1999 before extending their dominance in Algeria (2001) and Senegal where they won a back-to-back in 2004 and 2005.
Pipeline failed to capture the title in the last two editions in Tunisia (2015) and Egypt (2016) where they lost in the finals. But team captain Triza Atuka believe that current squad, which is a coacktail of both young and old players have now come of age and are capable of returning the trophy back to Kenya for the first time since 2012 when Prisons last won it.
“We need to win it this year. It’s not going to be easy but I believe this is our year,” said Atuka, the reigning Kenya Volleyball Federation league Most Valuable Player.
Pipeline receive a boost with news of former captain Ruth Jepngetich expected return to action after 18 months absence with injury.
“I will use the same players as was last year except Ruth (Chepng’etich) who will be back with us. That will be a big boost for us going to club championship,” said Munala.
Nyantino, at the same time, challenged the players to use their free time to enroll for classes to further their skills off the court.
“Go to school, get a certificate. In as much as KPC would like to employ you, the may not if you don’t have the papers,” added Nyantino.
Nyantino was responding to a request put forward by Atuka on behalf of players for the company to consider employing majority of the players who are on contract.
Most Pipeline players are on a three-year renewable contract with the sponsors.