Kenya women’s national team demonstrate significant progress in Tokyo 2020 opening matches

High performance 90-day Volleyball Empowerment pilot project helps elevate Kenya women’s national team technical performance

The Kenya women’s national volleyball team recently opened their third Olympic Games campaign with resilient displays against Japan and South Korea after participating in a 90-day Volleyball Empowerment high performance coaching pilot project in the lead up to Tokyo 2020.

The Kenya team, also known as the Malkia Strikers, were chosen for the pilot project as part of the FIVB’s revolutionary new Volleyball Empowerment programme which aims to improve the performance of national teams and players in volleyball and beach volleyball around the world.

As part of the project, the Kenya team participated in a 90-day high-performance training camp in Kenya with elite Brazilian coaches, such as Head Coach Luizomar de Moura, to further enhance their technical performance ahead of Tokyo 2020.

In their opening match, the currently ranked 24th Kenya team won 49 points in total and showed great determination against Japan, the fifth-ranked women’s team in the world. After going down two sets (25-15, 25-11), Kenya fought back and came close to clinching the third set but just lost out to a highly-experienced Japanese team (25-23).

Meanwhile, just two days later, the team faced South Korea which has a long been one of the strongest teams in Asian women’s volleyball. Kenya played with intensity and speed but were shut out by the highly-experienced Korean team in the first two sets (25-14, 25-22) and were extremely close to claiming the third set, forcing the more-experienced Korean team to pull two clear points ahead to win 26-24.

After a promising start, the Kenya team will no doubt look ahead to their upcoming matches against Serbia and the Dominican Republic with the aim of improving on their two previous Olympic Games appearances (Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004) by winning their first-ever Olympic volleyball match.

FIVB President Dr Ary S. Graça Fᵒ said:

“Playing against the incredibly talented, experienced and technically flawless hosts Japan was always going to be a tough opening match for Kenya. However, they clearly demonstrated the great progress they have made both technically and mentally during the Volleyball Empowerment pilot project.

“The FIVB is fully committed to reinvesting the money that comes from the sport back into the sport, and it is always incredible to see the results of this first-hand. I wish the Kenya all the best for the rest of their Olympic campaign, and I hope that their performances will create role models who can inspire the next generation of volleyball players and fans in Kenya and in Africa.”

Volleyball Empowerment, which was revealed during the 37th FIVB World Congress, aims to improve the performance of national teams around the world and provide support which is open to all 222 National Federations, categories one through to five. Part of the programme targets high-level national team performance and empowers these teams with the human and technical resources needed to unlock their full potential. Resources include coaches, trainers, managers, physiotherapists and data analysts.

The project was also supported by the National Olympic Committee of Kenya, Kenya Volleyball Federation, Kenya Ministry of Sports and the International Olympic Committee via an Olympic Solidarity Team Support Grant.