This World Championship left Kenyan fans with a bittersweet taste. Once the major force in the sport inside the African continent, this time around it qualified for the WCH behind Cameroon, the current African Champions. Regardless, it debuted well against Kazakhstan, winning its first ever WCH game after 5 participations in the competition. One could say that with the win, this would turn out to be a historic event for Kenyan volleyball, but it was somewhat overshadowed by political trouble within the team and Kenya’s governing body of the sport.
With less than two months until the start of the tournament, it was not yet known if the Kenyan team would be able to make it to Japan at all. Reports spread like wild fire that the government had cut the team’s funding and that the team wouldn’t be able to count on most of its stars, as most players on the main roster were pregnant or recovering from child birth. Indeed, Braxcides Agala and Ruth Jeng’etich, former team captains, and Esther Wangeci, had given birth in the last few months, while players Mildred Odwako, Esther Mwombe and Elishebah Chepkemboi are currently pregnant and were not called up.
However, coach Japeth Munala vehemently denied that this had any influence on his call up:
“This story was invented. Some of these players haven’t been called up for years, and some were out of shape. It was a story invented by a former sponsor so that our team could lose its confidence ahead of this WCH.”
Since all of Kenya’s players play domestically within the country, and the domestic league boast minimal internet presence, it’s hard to check who is actually telling the truth, but there is no doubt there is some power struggle withing the country’s volleyball community. Kenya, which is currently ranked 33rd in the world finished the tournament 1-4, being eliminated in the first round.
Dominican Republic 🇩🇴 @VoleiFemRD beats Kenya 🇰🇪 3-0 (25-5, 25-7, 25-15) to grab their 3rd consecutive win at the #FIVBWomensWCH and advances to the 2nd round.
Check out the highlights!
Stats, photos and game report: https://t.co/p4D72ee1l1#volleyballWCHs#volleyball pic.twitter.com/lddD7rXlqG
— Volleyball World (@FIVBVolleyball) October 4, 2018