CAIRO, Egypt, Jul 15 – Malkia Strikers failed in their bid to reclaim the African Women’s Volleyball Nations Championship title, and just as quietly as they flew into the Egyptian capital Cairo, is the same way they will snake back to the country in the wee hours of Tuesday morning.
No much fun-fare, no ceremonies; just in and out like it’s normal business. Nine time African champions.
And now silently, the players have began to feel a sense of being forgotten, though some say they have been used to the fact that the government doesn’t give much attention, if any, to the team.
“Maybe they don’t even know we are here. I wouldn’t be surprised. It has been on for a while now and it is not something new. We see other teams get so much support but for us, that support is rare to come by,” setter Jane Wacu told Capital Sports.
It comes in the backdrop of Harambee Stars’ journey to the Africa Cup of Nations, a similar tourney in proportion to what Malkia Strikers were in the same country for.
While Stars got perhaps the best ever treatment a national team has ever been accorded, Malkia watched with tongues wagging as they trained at the Kasarani Indoor gymnasium and left for Cairo with little fan fare.
To add on to the brilliant preparations Stars had for the AFCON, they were paid handsomely in terms of allowances. Over and above, every Stars player who made it to Egypt went back home with Sh1mn in their bank account.
Sh750,000 was paid up in terms of allowances from their camp in France to Egypt while they earned a bonus of Sh250,000 for beating Tanzania.
“I wish they can try one time even to give us just Sh200,000 for one tournament and they see the result. We will fight like no ones business. But we are only left to feel jealous. We are children of the same mother, but not treated the same way,”
“We don’t even want equal treatment. Even half would do… even a quarter,” Wacu who currently plays club volleyball in Seychelles stated further.
In what was probably the best treatment they have received from a government official since they began their Championship in Cairo was luncheon hosted by the Kenyan ambassador to Egypt Joff Makowenga on Monday before their return to Nairobi.
The team now hopes that they can have better treatment and funding especially with the Sports Fund coming in to help bridge the financial gap in the sporting sector.
“We have been having this same issue since I was a junior now I am a senior heading to retirement and it is still the same song. I don’t think the government really cares much about us. I want to thank our federation because they try at least even to give us allowances,” skipper Mercy Moim noted.
“We are not here for friendlies, but a continental championship. I think we should be treated like the others. We have achieved so much. We have won this title nine times, we have won the Grand Prix, we have qualified for the World Cup, but still it looks like nothing,” she stated.
The skipper added: “I would like to call upon the President to even call us for lunch or something and recognize our efforts. Only one time have we had anything of that kind, when the Deputy President hosted us at his place after we won the Grand Prix.”
Middle blocker Triza Atuka perhaps pains the picture in the best way possible;
“It hurt us of course because we are in the same championship (with Harambee Stars). We have all come to represent our country but it hurts that you are here flying the flag but no one remembers you. For us, at the end of the day we do it for the passion, whoever wants to recognize us it’s okay,” Atuka stated.
Malkia Strikers have more often than not decried poor preparations whenever they are headed for international assignments and instead of playing high level friendly games outside the country, they are left facing select men sides at Kasarani.
The coaches have time and again decried this, saying they cannot match up with the international levels if the players cannot be exposed to the rest of the world before Championships.