NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 18 – Long-serving national women’s volleyball team setter Janet Wanja has retired from international volleyball.
The announcement brings to an end over 17 years illustrious career decorated with several accolades with the national team as a setter.
“I am done with the national team,” said Wanja who earned her first call up to the national team in 2004 during the Summer Olympics while still in high school.
Within these 17-years, the legendary Wanja cut herself a part as the poster lady of the squad, a run which ended today, April 17, 2017 with five Africa Nations Championships, three All African Games and World Grand Prix title in 2025- a first for an Africa team and five appearances at the World Championships with the African Queens.
“For now I am still playing for my club, Kenya Pipeline but for the national team, I am done. I will not go even if I receive a call up,” added the former Mukumu Girls alumna and one of the few Kenyan Volleyball players to have passed through a structured academy-Kahawa Youth Volleyball Club.
“We had been told earlier that our services will not be needed in the national team and I don’t want to rub shoulders with other people.”
But even as she depart the scene, Wanja, 33, has however, raised the red flag on the bleak future of Kenya volleyball and at the same time, challenged the young players to raise their standards if Kenya is to find somebody who fill in the huge galley she will be leaving behind.
“Majority of these young players like easy life,” continued Wanja.
“They don’t want to train hard to rightfully earn their positions in the squad and my fear is, when I retire and Wacu (Jane) follows, our team will struggle,” cautioned Wanja who formed a formidable partnership with her Kenya Prisons counterpart, Wacu, the most recognizable pairs in the national team.
If she hold to her word, Wanja will leave a big gap right at the heart of the team that will be missing this year’s World Grand Prix due to lack of funds.
“As much as we want young players to come in, if they will not put in enough effort in training and have that self discipline, then we’ll not go far. To those saying that we are old just because we’ve played for so many years for the national team, they should also challenge these young players to work hard to earn their positions, not being favoured just because they are young. Age is just a number,” she advised.
“Even though many people are criticising coaches that they are not doing enough to recruit young players, for me we have so many young players, the right height but in my opinion, are pampered and don’t know the meaning of hard work.”
At the same time, Wanja termed the withdrawal of Malkia Strikers from the Grand Prix as ‘sad’
“It is sad for the young players because this was their chance to get that much needed exposure. If we start missing such chances, then it’s so sad.”
Wanja made the announcement a few minutes after landing from Tunisia where she guided Kenya Pipeline to a fourth place finish at the concluded women’s African Club Championship.
Carthage won the 2017 edition after beating El Sham of Egypt with Kenya Prisons winning the bronze.
Kenya Volleyball Federation withdrew from the Grand Prix citing insufficient funds to purchase the air tickets for the three nation trip to Peru, Puerto Rico and Croatia.
Besides, Kenya Volleyball Federation are yet to clear the Sh8 million arrears they owe to Federation of International Volleyball (FIVB).
About Pipeline performance in Tunisia, Wanja said: “Our performance as a club and a nation wasn’t good because our receptions wasn’t so well but I am not worried because we have young players coming through.”
-By Elvince Joshua-