NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 17 – Kenya has withdrawn from this year’s Federation of International de Volleyball (FIVB) World Grand Prix set to serve off in Peru from July 7- August 8 due to lack of sufficient funds.
Kenya, 2015 Grand Prix group 3 winners were reinstated back to a relatively more competitive Group 2 by FIVB despite a dismal performance in the same group last year which would ordinarily see them drop back to an easy group 3.
But the promotion of a second African side, Cameroon saw Kenya granted stay at Group 2 for yet another shot at the second top tier competition.
However, financial constrains saw the country pull out of the world’s most prestigious women’s volleyball competition which brings together 32 teams across the globe – spread in three groups.
Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) which still owes the international mother body Sh8 million in arrears arising from the last two editions, pulled the Kenyan side, Malkia Strikers out of the competition after they failed to raise the Sh15 million required to take care of the team.
The federation needs additional Sh5 million for the air ticket alone in order to send the team to Peru, Puerto Rico and Croatia in the three week Group D tour. This excludes the local and international allowances which is in a range of Sh2 million for the 18 member squad.
From last year, FIVB tightened the rule. Unlike in the previous editions where FIVB would provide for air tickets, meals and accommodation to all the participating teams, things changed this year when they quashed this rile, leaving teams to pay for the air ticket.
Naturally in this competition, a team opens a debit/credit account with FIVB and if you win a match, funds are credited to your debit account and a lose means you pay the world governing volleyball federation.
“Going to take part in the event will mean we’ll just be incurring more debts because we are in a tough group and our chances of winning are very slim,” said KVF President Waithaka Kioni who regretted the unfortunate incident.
“I would have loved to take this team to this championship to gain exposure but it is so unfortunate that we won’t because we don’t have the funds,” added Kioni.
Kenya has since been replaced by Colombia who will now join Trinidad and Tobago, Venezuela, South Korea and Hungary as the new entrants to the elite competition.
“The little money that we have will be used to prepare the national Under-23 team to the World Champions. This is our baby and we must die with it if we have to,” added Kioni.
The junior side qualified to the world competition after finishing second behind Egypt in the continental qualifiers held in Nairobi last year.
In 2015, Kenya made history as the first African country to have won an international trophy when Malkia Strikers lifted the prestigious World Grand Prix – Group 3 in Australia.
Kenya was scheduled to open her group 2 campaign against opening leg host Peru, Puerto Rico and Czech Republic.
The 12 teams are drawn in nine pools of four teams. In each pool, all teams will compete in round robin format. The results of all nine pools will be combined into one ranking table with the hosts and the top three ranked teams playing in the final round.
The last ranked team after the Intercontinental Round could be relegated if the winners of the Group 3 Final Round can meet the promotion requirements set by the FIVB.
-By Elvince Joshua-