The Confederation of Africa Volleyball was Tuesday forced to move the 2020 Africa men’s and women’s Volleyball Club Championships for the third time.
The event that was initially set for April 2020, but was moved to March 2021, and will now take place in May.
The changes will definitely have both financial and emotional effect on clubs and players alike.
National teams will, no doubt, also be affected with Egypt and Kenya will represent Africa at the Summer Olympics Games.
Kenya, for example, is expected to send six teams to Tunisia — Kenya Prisons both men and women, KCB, GSU, Kenya Pipeline and debutantes Kenya Ports Authority.
Interestingly for Kenya, three women’s teams — KCB, Pipeline and Prisons — produce the bulk of players called up to the national team, Malkia Strikers, who are set to serve off their Olympics preparation in May.
So what effect will the dates have on Kenya’s preparation to Tokyo?
A closer look at the timeline presents a not so rosy picture for Kenya who are set to return to Olympics for the first time in 16 years.
With the women’s event expected to run to the tail end of May, coach Paul Bitok will have less than a month to prepare for Olympics.
This time will be split between a two-week boot camp in Europe, where Bitok plans to play build up matches in Turkey and Slovenia. Besides the tour of Europe, the volleyball team, alongside the rest of Team Kenya has been booked for a three-week mandatory camp in the Kurume City, from where they will head straight to Tokyo.
Needless to say, all athletes who will represent Kenya in Japan will have to train in a bubble meaning they will not be allowed to mingle with the public during the entire period they’ll be in camp.
What this means for coach Bitok is that, he can only bank on the month of June for preparations.
Remember, the Club Championship will conclude on May 28. Teams will be expected depart for their respective countries on May 29. A trip from Tunisia to Nairobi will take the whole day. So May 30 is the earliest time that Bitok, who will also be in Tunisia with KCB, will be expected to have every player back home.
Having been away for two weeks, these players will need at least a week to shake off the jet lag and fatigue before they can move to the bubble camp. In between, the coach also has to factor in the health of his players considering that they will be subjected to a mandatory Covid test before they move to camp.
Should any of them test positive of Covid, a player will need at least two weeks of isolation, out of camp.
This, therefore, means that Bitok is left with the first week of June, as the earliest he will have all his players available.
It is clear that Bitok will have no option but to readjust his programme as the rescheduled Africa Club Championship slowly bites Kenya’s chances of at least winning a maiden Olympic match.
“I’m not in a position to tell exactly why Egypt pulled out but there are several challenges arising from Covid-19,” Kenyan volleyball boss Waithaka Kioni said of the changes.
Respective national League winners and runners automatically book a ticket to the annual event that was moved to Tunisia after Egypt withdrew from hosting the games. The championship was set to serve off on April March 31 to 12 for the men and thereafter pave way for the women’s edition.
With the new dates, the men’s will edition will run from April 16 and 28 April, then leave the stage for the opposite gender from April 26 to May 28 2021.