Bitok urges KVF, NOCK to fast-track Malkia Strikers’ training programme

National women’s volleyball team head coach Paul Bitok has urged the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) and National Olympics Committee of Kenya (NOC-K) to fast-track Malkia Strikers’ Olympic Games training programme.

With Malkia’s compatriots Shujaa and Kenya Lionesses already in camps for the Summer Games, Bitok is worried the nine-time African volleyball champions could head to Japan underprepared.

“Already Shujaa and Lionesses are training for the same championship but for us (Malkia Strikers ) we’re still training through online. Volleyball is a team sports and I can’t get the best training via WhatsApp,” said Bitok.

Bitok says his side should hit the camp as soon as possible because in April and May he is poised to miss crucial players who will be out to represent their respective clubs at the Africa Club Championships.

The government gave national teams the green light to start training ahead of their respective international assignments last November but KVF and NOC-K, since then, are yet to lay out the training schedule for the Kenyan lasses.

“I had shared the tentative training programme November last year for approval and up to today nothing is forthcoming. We need to hit the camp as soon as possible because it’s almost a year since Malkia Strikers trained together in person,” he added.

The veteran coach turned to WhatsApp in April as his only tool to help keep the Malkia Strikers squad fit after the coronavirus crisis hit the country in March.

Meanwhile, the former Kenyan international has urged the federation not to return to hosting its regular National League matches outdoor saying that would continue to hurt the growth of the sport in the country.

KVF announced the 2021 National League Fixtures late last month to signify the much awaited resumption of Volleyball action after a forced-stop in March last year due to the pandemic with the big-serve off set for January 23.

According to KVF organizing secretary Ismail Chege, Mombasa Shimo La Tewa Prisons, Eldoret GK Prisons, Nairobi Kamiti Prisons and Nairobi KPC Estate are scheduled to play host the first round of the league.

Bitok says the federation should fully adopt the new league format, aimed at ensuring Kenya’s volleyball calendar runs in conformity with that of International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) by ensuring no single match is played outdoor.

“I’ve seen the fixtures and where the matches will be played but none of the venues have a indoor facility. We had earlier agreed to use Makande Hall in Mombasa, BOMAS of Kenya, Kasarani Indoor Arena and Nyayo Stadium facilities and that should not change because we must align our volleyball with that of other countries.” added Bitok who is also the technical director for the KCB volleyball team.

The federation had earlier planned to have the league serve-off in October so as to align its calendar with that of the FIVB which runs from October to April, but it was delayed further after the government maintained ban on contact sports. The federation is planning to ensure the league ends in April as earlier scheduled.

Traditionally, Kenya’s national regular league has been operating from February to December with all the matches, safe for the play offs, being played outdoor.