Sixteen players and two coaches are set to depart the country early this morning for Kampala, Uganda where the women’s handball national team will compete at the Zone Five All Africa Games Handball qualifiers.
Kenya will be represented in the women’s competition only as the men’s team was pulled out of the games and reassigned. The men’s team will instead shift focus to Olympic qualifiers preparations.
The games set for January in Tunisia will double up as the World Championship qualifiers.
The Kampala games which today and conclude next Tuesday, bring together teams from the region as they compete for a ticket to the All Africa Games to be held between August 23 and September 3 in Morocco. Two players, Mercy Katola and Sarah Wasike from Kenyatta University and Ulinzi Sharks respectively did not make the final travelling squad from the provisional squad that has been in training for close to eight weeks.
“We are prepared for the stiff competition expected in Uganda even as we look to defend the zonal title and book a ticket to the All Africa Games. Our best placing in the Africa games has been a seventh place finish but we intend to improve on that this year,” said coach Jack Ochieng.
Meanwhile, the men’s team continues with their training as coach Peter Mwathi looks to prepare his charges for the tough assignment of qualifying for one of the two global competitions. “This is a much bigger stage for us and it was a welcome opportunity.
We shift our focus to the January games that will bring together 12 of the best African countries. The podium finishers will represent the continent in the Olympics while positions four to six feature in the World Championships. We intend to be in the top six teams when the time comes,” said Mwathi.
The tactician is keen on taking the players through strength and conditioning sessions he says will be key to leveling up with the best in Africa.
“Handball is a fast game and the players need to be in the best form physically. We will draft a training programme as soon as possible and hopefully we can play three or more international friendly matches before then,” he said.