TRICKY DEBUT

Kenya face baptism of fire against Japan in Deaflympics opener

The 15-day 24th Summer Deaflympics kicked off on Monday in Caxias Do Sul, Brazil with a colourful opening ceremony.

In Summary

• Kenya’s Women’s Deaf team coach Ben Bella on Monday expressed confidence that the girls will go all the way.

• “This being our debut global championship, I’m confident and optimistic that the girls will give their all. The team is ready for the game against Japan,” he told the Star on phone.

National women's Deaf football team coach Ben Bella at Kasarani
National women's Deaf football team coach Ben Bella at Kasarani
Image: ANGWENYI GICHANA

The national women’s Deaf football team face a baptism of fire when they make their Deaflympics debut against Japan in Brazil on Tuesday.

The 15-day 24th Summer Deaflympics kicked off on Monday in Caxias Do Sul, Brazil with a colourful opening ceremony.

Kenya’s Women’s Deaf team coach Ben Bella on Monday expressed confidence that the girls will go all the way.

“This being our debut global championship, I’m confident and optimistic that the girls will give their all. The team is ready for the game against Japan,” he told the Star on phone.

“We have a relatively young and inexperienced team but with the training sessions we have had in the last one month, I’m optimistic that they will put their best foot forward.”

He said Japan is equally a youthful side though they have participated in more global tournaments, unlike Kenya.

“We shall approach the game cautiously because we don’t know what the Japanese have in store for us,” added Bella.

The national team during a training session at Kasarani
The national team during a training session at Kasarani
Image: ANGWENYI GICHANA

In the opening game, Kenya will miss the services of midfield linchpin Zaitun Abdi, who is nursing an ankle injury. However, coach Bella is optimistic that she will be available for selection in the second game, against hosts Brazil on Friday.

Kenya are also set to face Poland on May 7 and USA on May 9.

Meanwhile, Bella has rued the unpredictable weather in Brazil. 

“The weather is erratic. Today it’s raining and tomorrow it’s not. This affects our training programs,” said the tactician.

However, he observed that, following their early arrival in Brazil, courtesy of support from the Kenyan government through the Ministry of Sports, they have had enough time to get a hang of their new surroundings.

“We have received 100 per cent support from the government. The team is enjoying their stay here in Brazil even though they miss our staple food ugali,” he noted, adding that they have ordered for a few bales of maize flour.

While at it, Bella is hopeful that their American sojourn will help prevail upon the powers that be to establish leagues for deaf football players at both the county and national levels.

“Our problem is that we are reactive. We only assemble teams for competitions and then disband them soon after. There is no continuity. We should have sustainable programs. You can’t build a competitive team in one month,” he added.

Goalkeepers being taken through their paces at Kasarani before the team left for Brazil
Goalkeepers being taken through their paces at Kasarani before the team left for Brazil
Image: ANGWENYI GICHANA

“For (deaf) players from Africa to perform well on the global stage, we also need to have regular tournaments at regional (Cecafa) and continental levels,” he suggested.

Kenya is represented by 136 athletes who will participate in men’s and women’s basketball teams, men’s handball, golf, and athletics.

Kenya will also be active in the men’s handball where the national Deaf team will face fellow Africans, Cameroon.