By Alex Isaboke
Nairobi - The national women volleyball team breathed a sigh of relief after World Volleyball Federation (FIVB) funded their World Olympic Qualifier repecharge slatted for Puerto Rico in May 20-22.
The Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) had early February announced that they will not be able to send the Malkia Strikers due to financial constraints that needed them to raise S0m.
Kenya failed to earn the direct ticket to Rio De Janeiro Games after losing to Egypt in the Africa Qualifier semi-finals held in Yaounde, Cameroon last month.
"Last year, your women's team was able to win the World Grand Prix for the first time in history and that shows that your federation is developing the sport."
"We understand your point and the issue of the financial situation, which causes you to withdraw from this event. However, we discussed with our travel agency and we agreed to prepare a combined air ticket. Your team would first travel to Puerto Rico and then connect to Argentina for the World Grand Prix preliminary round," FIVB told KVF in a letter.
FIVB further requested the Argentina Volleyball Federation to host Kenya for a training camp in preparation for the repecharge and World Grand Prix scheduled to serve-off June 3.
The Malkia Strikers, who comprises the squad that won gold at the All Africa Games, will now face Colombia and Puerto Rico in the same pool after Egypt pulled out.
The African Queens stand a chance of qualifying for the Olympics for the first time since 2004, to join Cameroon as the continent's representatives after the West Africans clinched the automatic slot at the expense of Egypt.
"We will be taking part in the World Olympic Qualifier however, the Federation will need to raise close to Sh2m to cover the ticket price difference for making the stop in Puerto Rico," KVF chairman Waithaka Kioni asserted.
KVF technical director, David Lung'aho believes Kenya are capable of topping their pool and go on to win the qualifier.
"I have faith the team will qualify if we go to Puerto Rico. The young players proved their worth during the Africa Qualifier tournament and if it was not bad calls from referees, we could have won the direct slot," Lung'aho, the most successful volleyball head coach in Kenya, stated.
It's yet to be seen if coach Japheth Munala will recall veterans setter Janet Wanja and blocker Bracksides Agala who were axed from the team.
Source: All Africa