There is no gainsaying the fact that for the last couple of years, Kenya has held dominance in Africa women’s volleyball with the team that is colloquially known as Malkia Strikers virtually winning every title at stake.
Malkia Striker’s obduracy in the continent is well documented in the unprecedented nine times they have been crowned the Women African Championships champions besides the four All Africa Games titles they have stashed in their cabinets since 1991.
Granted that Kenya has continuously held sway in such championships, Malkia Strikers have savoured the grand chance of representing the continent in high-profile events such as the FIVB World Grand Prix and the World Championships.
But in as much as Strikers boast of the bragging rights of ruling Africa in this revered sport, their performance in the global scene belies its outlook as they are increasingly playing second fiddle to their opponents in global events where they carry Africa’s banner.
Last week, Malkia Strikers slumped to a crashing 3-0 (25-5, 25-7, 25-15) loss to Dominican Republic in their final FIVB Women’s World Championship Group D match at the Hamamatsu Arena in Japan and in the process were bundled out of the event.
The victory ensured Dominican Republic sailed into the tournament’s next round on a 2-2 record while Kenya will now return home a crest-fallen lot after recording four losses and a single win which was against Kazakhstan, their first win ever at the competition.
And the stark truth is that Malkia Strikers found the going extremely tough against the Caribbeans who have participated in every World Grand Prix tournament since 2004 and are making their sixth consecutive appearance at the World Championship.
As if to demonstrate their superiority against Kenya, the Dominicans started the first set with two aces and ended it with another as Malkia Strikers crumbled like a pack of cards.
The loss, Malkia Strikers’ fourth on the trot at the Championships, means that the Kenyan lasses return home with their opening day win over Kazakhstan – which was the country’s first ever in the competition.
That tells you that there is a huge gulf in standards between African teams and more so Malkia Strikers’ which has raised a huge concern amongst the faithful of the sport.
This begets the question as to where the rain started beating Kenya in as far as participation in global events is concerned. For starters, Kenya is not devoid of talent and this school of thought is underlined by the fact that some of our players have been voted as the best spikers, receptionists, boosters and back-court players in past events held under aegis of FIVB.
However, suffice to say, there are shenanigans which are playing a big part in such sad state of affairs which are afflicting Malkia Strikers with pundits indicating as much.
Peter Mbogo, one of the most respected coaches in the country, pointed that there is lack of youth structures to serve as a feeder of the national team.
“For a lengthy time now, we have had frailties when it comes to youth programmes and must hit the ground running to nurture players at a tender age and who will serve the national team in future.
We don’t have enough reservoir of talent for continuity due to lack of such programmes and this way, there is absolutely no way we can compete with countries like Brazil which are well in terms of age-group setups,” said Mbogo.