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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Kenyans lose firm grip on volleyball in Africa
amid further doubts for Olympic qualification

by John Kwoba NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya dominance in the volleyball is declining and the national team technical director David Lung’aho has raised a red flag for the trend to be arrested.

Lack of funding, poor player welfare and bad development structures are some of the problems bedeviling the country.

For a country that held a firm grip on the sport on the global and continental circuit, Kenya has been left to spectate as Egypt, Algeria and Cameroon clubs and national teams have come to Nairobi and conquered them on their home turf.

Kenya clubs Pipeline and Prisons were easily beaten in the Africa Cup of Clubs championships while the national team has failed to secure a ticket to the Olympics since 2004 in Athens Greece.

Only once has Kenya won at the World Championships against a team outside Africa beating Puerto Rico in 3-2. But the losing trend proves the trajectory the country is taking in the sport.

"Kenya has natural talented volleyball players, who are tall and need little skills and training to polish. However, we must accept that the game has evolved.

"We must go back to the drawing board and change our approach and training tactics," said Lung’aho on Saturday in Nairobi.

The last time Kenya clubs won a title at the continental stage was back in 2013 when Prisons overcame Algeria’s GSP Alger 3-1 in the final in Antananarivo, Madagascar.

The national team last won the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012.

"The game has become scientific.

"Unlike us, the governments of the other teams have heavily invested in the game and the results are there for everyone to see.

"We have to change and adopt the new training methods or we will continue going down," Lung’aho said.

Now Kenya has signed Italian volleyball coach Shailene Ramdoo to direct the national women’s team ahead of the Intercontinental Olympic qualifying tournament set for August in Italy.

Kenya will face Italy, who finished second at the World Championships, the Netherlands and Belgium in the qualifiers, which will be played in Italy on Aug. 2-4.

"The foreign coach will come help raise the level of competition and the game of our girls and increase our chances of qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics," said Waithaka Kioni, the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF).

While the North Africans dominate at the clubs’ level, Cameroon are slowly but surely becoming a threat to National team status in Africa.

Cameroonians are on an upward trajectory across all categories and have denied Kenyans either qualification tickets to the Africa Cup, Olympics or the World Championships.

"Something is not right and our levels have gone down. We must evolve with the game. We need to restart the process by injecting new players in the game as we work on the players’ transition. Remember, the training methods for both coaches and players have changed, they all need new skills," said Lung’aho.

Former Kenyan international Bernard Musumba, who is a coach with Administration Police, said the country must inject professionalism and merit in the league and appointments.

"The federation should stop rewarding their sycophants with coaching jobs at the expense of merit. Most of the coaches are more of trainers, that’s why they find it difficult to bring their tactical expertise in teams," said Musumba.

Unless the country changes its management styles, and offer Italian coach Ramdoo support, Kenya might not live the dream of returning to the Olympics in Tokyo in 2020.

The Intercontinental Olympic qualifying tournament, a six four-team round-robin women’s tourney, will see the winners’ secure direct Olympic ticket to join Japan, who have qualified as hosts.

The qualification for the Tokyo Olympic women’s volleyball tournament features 12 berths - host Japan, the winners of each of six intercontinental qualifying tournaments, and five continental qualification tournament champions.

The five continental qualifying competitions will start in January 2020. Teams already qualified for the Olympics are not eligible to play in the following qualification tournaments.

             

 

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