After delivering gold, Bitok examines long term plans for Malkia
Decorated volleyball coach Paul Bitok has set his sights on the long-term success with the national women’s volleyball team, Malkia Strikers, following the African Games triumph in Morocco last week.
The towering coach says he is in talks with long-serving setter Janet Wanja to incorporate her in the team’s technical bench; a move he believes will build a formidable foundation for him with the nine-time African champions.
The former Kenyan international believes despite his instant success with the five-time African Games champions, tapping into unmatched experience from seasoned squad members will bring sanity in the squad following divisions that led to the dismissal of Italian coach Shailene Ramdoo prior to Morocco’s fiesta.
Bitok, 46, says should Wanja, arguably the most seasoned player in Malkia Strikers camp alongside fellow setter Jane Wacu agree to bring down the curtain after a decorated career spanning 18-years, to join the technical bench, she will give room to upcoming setters as he embarks on building the team around young blood.
“I need to have a youthful squad if I want to conquer the world and Wanja who has been here for ages is very important in the squad so we are in talks to bring her on board because of the work she has done for the team, she can help us build a strong team with her being in the technical bench,” he told Citizen Digital.
He went on: “The experience she has (Wanja) is enough to nurture other players and ensure the squad has unity, and that’s why even if we want young players we must ensure the experienced ones stay around.”
In Morocco, fast-rising Sharon Chepchumba who completed his high school studies in 2017 from Kwanthanze Secondary School starred and her performance caught the attention of Bitok who believes having young charges will help Malkia dominate.
“Chepchumba is only two years in the team and she is doing very well and that’s why I want to build my team around her and other young players like Chebet (Lorine) and Mutinda (Esther),” he added.
Malkia Strikers successfully defended the African Games title after whipping their new-found rivals Cameroon 3-1 in the final to bag their fifth crown and Bitok, a former Rwanda head coach, has shifted focus to the upcoming World Cup competition in Japan.
Ahead of the tourney slated for September 14-29, Bitok has bolstered his team by calling up two more players – the youthful Kenya Commercial Bank centre Lorine Chebet and Kenya Prisons libero Elizabeth Wanyama.
The team which jetted back to the country on Monday will resume residential training Thursday ahead of the Japan assignment.
The team will also play in African qualifiers for 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in January next year. Kenya has not qualified for the Olympic Games since 2004.