NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Malkia Strikers head coach Paul Bitok hopes both the Ministry of Sports and the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) will approve of his plans to prepare the national team in the best way possible for their return to the Olympic Games.
Bitok who helped guide Malkia to their first Olympics since 2004 believes the girls stand a chance to perform well in Japan, but it will all depend on how well they prepare for the extravaganza.
“There are many people who are already willing to host and sponsor us outside the country. I will make a program and give it to the Federation and the Ministry of Sports and I hope they will approve it,” Bitok told Capital Sport.
“It will be a very tough tournament because we will be playing against the best 12 teams in the world. We must have good preparations with international friendly matches to give us a chance to compete. Otherwise it will be the same old story when we come back that we didn’t prepare well,” stated the tactician.
Malkia booked a ticket to the Olympics after finishing top of the five-team round robin tournament in Cameroon and the victory over the hosts was the biggest catalyst to push them to Tokyo.
“It was really exciting because we had been talking about it for over one month and we wanted to make history. We needed to take Kenya where it was as the powerhouse of women’s volleyball,” Bitok stated.
He added; I am very happy particularly because this happens immediately after coming back from Rwanda after 10 years. I am very proud and even if I retire, I will have achieved something for Kenya.”
At the 2004 games in Athens Greece, Kenya lost all its five matches without winning a single set. This year though, the Kenyan girls hope to do well and win some matches.
The same sentiments are shared by skipper Mercy Moim who noted that the team will strive to ensure they do well at the game.
“We just don’t want to go there to participate. We want to go and win games and see if we can get even to the knockout rounds. It is very possible because we have a good team,” Moim noted.
She added; “Personally I feel really happy because I have tried three precious times to qualify with the team but failed. This time, we finally got it.”
Meanwhile, Bitok says he will continue integrating young players into the team after youngsters Gladys Ekaru, Joy Luseneka and Sharon Chepchumba exploded with good performances in Cameroon.
“We had taken quite a long time without changing players and I think it is time we start giving confidence to these young players. We have to put a blend of senior and young players and going forward I will be doing the same. We need to have good transition,” Bitok opined.
The team last week met President Uhuru Kenyatta in Mombasa where they were promised maximum support in their preparations for the Olympics.