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Munala convinced me back, states Wanja

Veteran setter, Janet Wanja, moments after Malkia Strikers beat Peru in the World Grand Prix Group 3 final on Sunday. PHOTO/Courtesy

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 27- Just over three months after announcing she has retired from the national team, celebrated Kenya women volleyball setter Janet Wanja has rescinded her decision, saying she did this after a talk-up with head coach Japheth Munala.

Munala, who also doubles up as the Kenya Pipeline head coach, has named Wanja in the Malkia Strikers squad that will represent the country in the CAVB Zone Five World Championship qualifiers which serve off Friday at the Moi International Sports Center Kasarani gymnasium.

“Yeah I had made a decision but you know things change. My coach Munala who is the head coach in the national team as well called me and told me he still needs me and urged me to think about it. I decided to come back because the country needs me and the country is bigger than me,” Wanja told Capital Sport.

The 34-year old has had a career spanning close to 17 years, having made her debut for the national team at the age of 17, making the final team of 14 for the Olympic Games in Athens, Greek in 2004.

Janet Wanja No 7.PHOTO/File

She made the decision to walk out of the national team in April this year after returning to the country from the African Women Volleyball Club Championship, coming at a time when some of the senior players were not in good terms with the management.

“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,” Wanja said in an interview then.

She is however, focused on helping the team qualify for the World Championship next year starting Friday when the first step of qualification begins with the Zonal Championship.

“It will not be easy because all the teams are tough. We know Egypt is always a tough opponent but we must not neglect both Uganda and Rwanda because of late they have improved so much. My target and that of the team is to win here of course then focus on the next stage.”

Janet Wanja.Photo/FILE

“As always, I will do my best and give 100 percent to the team,” Wanja added.

Munala, speaking to Capital Sport, says she is pleased having Wanja in the team, pointing out her experience is immeasurable especially at such a competitive stage and he is confident she will give the team an edge to qualify to the World Championship.

Meanwhile, Wanja says she will be looking to mentor other setters, saying there is so much talent especially in the national Under-23 team that had been training concurrently with them.

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She has challenged the upcoming players, who in her opinion have found things easy, to work hard as there is no shortcut to getting where she has in terms of accolades and experience.

Malkia Strikers head coach Japheth Munala. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYA

“To get to where I am, it has not been easy. It has taken a lot of hard work and that is what these players should know. When I started, there were so many talented players and I had to do my best to get to the top,” Wanja said.

“If I compare now and when I was starting up, most of these players come straight from school and start earning very good money. When I started, even getting Sh100 was not easy. I think that is what has made them a bit comfortable.”

“But they should really work hard. Talent is there but without hard work, you can’t be better. These talented players can get to where Wacu (Jane) and I have gotten and probably even better,” she added.

“I am certain we will get a replacement when the two of us leave. It is just that they have not had enough exposure but if they do, they will be there,” Wanja advised.

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