National beach volleyball teams are confident of making the most from available opportunities to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games for the first time ever.
Both men and women teams are camping at Flamingo beach in Mombasa for a two-week training before they jet out on June 18 for the African Olympic qualifiers slated for June 21-28 in Morocco.
The Kenyan men’s team is in group C together with Gambia, Mauritius, Botswana and South Sudan while the women’s team is in pool C alongside Nigeria, Cape Verde, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) where each team will face one another in a round-robin format. The Olympic slots, for men and women, will be grabbed by the eventual winners of the CAVB Beach Continental Cup under the existing qualification criteria.
Kenya had forfeited its chance to gain a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Games after failing to honour the second round matches in Banjul, Gambia (men) and Abuja, Nigeria (women) after Covid-19 brought global sporting activities to a standstill.
With Kenya also banning all international flights into the country at the time, the world governing body ordered for the repeat of the qualifiers to give equal chances to the countries that had failed to travel.
“Our goal is to win all our matches at the qualifiers and I’m confident we shall achieve it,” said the men’s team captain Ibrahim Oduor.
Oduor, who partnered with Jimmy Mwaniki to win Nyerere Cup last weekend in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, said he had no doubt that the players have the ability to accomplish their qualification mission.
“We gained enough exposure in Tanzania and in addition to the training in Mombasa, we are working hard together to achieve our targets,” added Oduor.
Women captain Phosca Kasisi also expressed confidence in her teammates. “All the players in the team have been busy with their respective clubs and it is a matter of fine tuning our skills before flying out for the qualifiers,” said Kasisi who teamed up with Gladys Wangui to win Nyerere Cup women’s title.
“We can make our dream a reality and we can do it with proper planning no matter how tough it will be in Morocco. Everything is possible as long as we keep working hard for it,” said Kasisi.
Women coach Sammy Mulinge said the teams have embarked on serious training where they are training twice in a day. “Our training programme starts at 8.30am to 12.30pm and later from 3.00pm to 5.30pm in the afternoon,” said Mulinge acknowledging the support the team has been accorded by the management of Flamingo Beach Hotel for availing its beach front for workouts together with refreshments and bottled drinking water.
Coach Patrick Owino, who is also optimistic of steering his team to victory keeping in mind that Kenya has never qualified for Olympic Games in beach volleyball and the best place the teams have previously featured is in 2015 World championships.
Flamingo Beach Hotel Manager Victor Shitakha said the hotel will continue supporting the teams as they prepare to carry the country’s flag high in Morocco.