From coaching to tilling; celebrated coach Paul Bitok opts for farming as virus bites
SPECIAL FEATURE IN UASIN GISHU
What would you do with the handsome amount of time in your hands during this Covid-19 period?
Whereas others are working from home; those in businesses are devising strategies of keeping the businesses afloat including going digital.
For others they simply don’t know what to do – they are caught between a rock and a hard place!
For sportsmen and women the boredom is even more pronounced as they have been limited to morning and evening runs and low intensive workouts in their small-seized living rooms in a bid to keep fit.
However for one man, the 49-year-old Paul Bitok, lack of sports action and the lull in the volleyball court has simply meant one thing: farming.
At his Simat village in Uasin Gishu County, the 6.8ft tall volleyball coach; a legend in his own right; there is a new pass time activity.
Here in Simat he has not only traded his volleyball tracks and tactic board with gumboots and tractor, but is also rigorously chopping Napier grass – the high yielding fodder crop fed to dairy cattle — at the expense of shouting his voice hoarse to the beautiful queens that are Malkia Strikers players. He has a new lease of life!
After all farming is a profession like any other and he’s plunged into it full blast in the hope of a bumper harvest — not just enough to feed his family but probably extra more — to send to the national grain reserve.
Opening up in this exclusive interview with Citizen Digital, the celebrated coach says he last visited his village a few days before March 13 when Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe popped up on the local televisions to announce Kenya’s first coronavirus case, and is now enjoying the tranquility of the village and the sheer volume of farm work that come with it.
“I have been in the village since March 7 when I came to visit my parents. But since it was the start of long rains I decided not go back to the city but instead concentrate on farming because until last year, I had spent over 10 years in Rwanda and I was not getting enough time to do farming,” he revealed.
The Malkia Strikers tactician says he ventured into agriculture two decades ago – in 2000 – after hanging his boots as a player and his 30-acre land is producing more than 500 bags of maize every year while at the same time making a good chunk of money from his dairy farming.
“I started planting maize in two acres but now I have more than 30. I’m also a dairy farmer since 2003 and I am hoping by December this year to have 20 cows because I have started building new facilities to accommodate more cows in future,” he says with satisfaction as his eyes wander in the expansive farm.
“I miss volleyball, my squad and everything that comes with the sport but outside volleyball courts I want to make a mark in my village through farming,” he added.
In the same breadth, the trailblazing coach who also owns Paul Bitok Academy in Eldoret, urged sportsmen and women in Kenya to venture into farming and charity works during this period adding that the pandemic has taught him how to be ‘bold’.
“Engaging in farming activities is a way of keeping fit at this period and by so doing you will also realize you have killed two birds with one stone,” he averred.
And in a bid not to be too consumed with farming hence losing track of his squad, Bitok has turned to WhatsApp to help keep the squad keep fit.
He avers that technology has come in handy for him and through a WhatsApp group titled ‘Malkia Strikers Pandemic Plan’, the coach has been providing a daily plan for his players.
“Every player shares with me a short video clip of what she has done on a daily basis and this is a norm in five consecutive days because I usually give them two days to rest in a week,” he concluded.