THE WAY FORWARD

Talent centres the answer to challenges in Kenyan volleyball — Makokha

Makokha, 24, is part of the national women’s team in a two-month high-performance training camp in Brazil in readiness for the World Championships.

In Summary

• “Our biggest challenge is that, at 19, the player is now out of secondary school with no basic skills for the game and is quickly absorbed by clubs. No wonder some players take too long to adjust,” she observed.

• Basics are taught at junior levels as opposed to Kenya where the art is mastered at club level-leaving coaches with monumental assignments that only makes their job more difficult and demanding.

Veronica Makokha (black) celebrates with teammates against Saquarema
Veronica Makokha (black) celebrates with teammates against Saquarema
Image: HANDOUT

Malkia Strikers libero Veronica Makokha reckons that Kenya must invest in sports academies and centres of excellence to bridge the widening gap with global powerhouses in volleyball.

Makokha, 24, is part of the national women’s team in a two-month high-performance training camp in Brazil in readiness for the World Championships.

Makokha made her Malkia debut against Saquarema in a friendly match but observed investment in youth structures and infrastructure like gymnasiums will give Kenya a competitive edge.

She said Brazil are dominant in major sports courtesy of their age-group structures both at club and national team levels and Kenya must borrow a leaf from the South Americans.

“Irrespective of the sport, Brazilian players start playing at a tender age. They have well-equipped facilities for training and sports is an investment in the country."

"Players earn like engineers in Kenya and that serves as extra motivation. There’s no time for laziness as sports is a career unlike in Kenya where players take to the field for leisure and love for the game,” said Makokha.

The Kenya Defence Forces player, who schooled at Lugulu Girls High School between 2013-2016, went on: “Brazilians value talent and will give the athletes the best environment to thrive unlike in Kenya.

"At 19, the players have amassed valuable experience under their belt and is ripe enough to play for the national team while some are already professionals. To them, the transition is easy and this is an area that Kenya must channel all their energy to avoid seeing talented players wasted.”

Basics are taught at junior levels as opposed to Kenya where the art is mastered at club level-leaving coaches with monumental assignments that only makes their job more difficult and demanding.

“Our biggest challenge is that, at 19, the player is now out of secondary school with no basic skills for the game and is quickly absorbed by clubs. No wonder some players take too long to adjust,” she observed.

“Clubs like Saquarema study volleyball like mathematics both in junior and senior set up and cuts across all disciplines. Best players in the world in volleyball and football come from Brazil and this is down to proper talent nurturing. These are long-term projects that even take 20 years to realise.”

Makokha further pointed out the need for the national team to have consistent training ahead of major assignments.

"The Brazilian national team stay in camp for the better part of the year. Players play for their clubs and return to the camp," she noted.

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