- Malkia Strikers played one match in the competition
- They lost three sets to one against Colombia
- Their next focus is on the Africa Championships
National women’s volleyball team Malkia Strikers finished sixth out of eight participating teams at the FIVB Challenger Series in France. The Kenyan girls lost their single knockout match, going down three sets to one to Colombia, who went on to finish in third place for the bronze.
Despite the loss, Malkia showed their mettle and competitiveness, as they came from a set down to tie the game at 1-1. Colombia won the first set 25-22, but Kenya responded in the second, winning 25-21.
But the Colombians proved to be better in the subsequent two sets, winning 25-23 and 25-19 to progress to the semi-finals.
Sharon Chepchumba was once again Kenya’s star girl with 27 points, 24 from attack, two from service and one on the blocks.
Belinda Nanjala and Veronica Odhiambo also amassed double figures with 13 and 11 points respectively.
The team will now switch its attention to the Africa Cup which serves off in Cameroon next month, the tournament counting as a qualification for the Olympic Games in Paris, France, next year.
Funds from the National Olympic Committee of Kenya
The team has been funded by the National Olympic Committee of Kenya (NOCK) under the IOC solidarity fund, to help them seek qualification for the Paris Games.
Shadrack Maluki, the NOCK vice president remains confident that the team can earn qualification.
“Your journey to this moment I am aware has been filled with challenges, especially travel logistics but all is well that ends well. I say this because you now need to put all the troubles behind you and go and do what you have always done best- play and win big,” Maluki said.
NOC-K has steadfastly supported the Malkia Strikers, recognizing their potential and dedication. In November of last year, NOC-K granted the team Sh5.4mn to boost their efforts in qualifying and returning to the Olympic stage with even greater strength and prowess.
This two-year, Olympic solidarity grant will continue until the team secures qualification for the games, with additional support expected should they achieve this milestone.
Acting President Charles Nyaberi expressed heartfelt gratitude to NOC-K for their unwavering support over the years. He acknowledged and thanked the government and partners, such as Mozzart Bet, for their generous contributions.
Maximum government support
Meanwhile, Sports PS Peter Tum also remains optimistic that the team will do well and has promised maximum government support.
“Last week we had a retreat with SAGAs and all stakeholders to and I can assure the ladies that we are in a new era with our able CS, we shall fully support you as you prepare for the Olympics,” he said.
The team started off its journey in Rabat, Morocco, where they held a training camp fully supported by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) and the Confederation of African Volleyball (CAVB).
This was a massive opportunity, as Morocco boasts exceptional rankings and top-notch infrastructure. During their stay, the team received training under the guidance of six Brazilian coaches, who have been instrumental in their development since the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and the World Championship.
The six worked hand in hand with local tacticians Paul Bitok and Japheth Munala.
The team will now train in Miramas, France, for a period of two weeks before travelling to Cameroon for the Africa Championships.