With the East and Central Africa Club Championships scheduled to start on August 20 and lasting until August 24 in Nairobi, Kenya, the home side Nyayo Sitting Volleyball Club and the Rwanda based Gisagara Sitting Volleyball Club are both actively preparing for the competition.
It is the first time Rwanda is competing at the event, with four teams competing. Head coach Eric Gakwaya has had his two time national men’s champions Gisagara in training camp for the past two weeks. They’ve been having two a day training sessions at the Kimigasara youth centre in Kigali and in Huye. Gakwaya is quoted in Rwanda’s New Times on Monday as saying, “The fact that we will be playing in the tournament for the first time makes us train even harder, we won’t be intimidated by any team. […] “We’re training well with a target of not only to reach far but to win the competition and I return home with the trophy.”
The Rwanda women’s national sitting volleyball team have also been preparing to compete under the leadership of Dutch born head coach Peter Karemann. Gisagara and the Rwandan women’s national team are scheduled to depart Rwanda for Nairobi on Tuesday.
The Nyayo team have an advantage as they do not need to travel to compete, as the competition is happening on their home turf. The 2013 national men’s champions started training yesterday ahead of the event. Their coach Juma Walukhu is quoted in Kenya’s The Star as saying, “Though we have not played any team from Rwanda, we are prepared for any kind of opposition and looking to take home the trophy.” With Kenya as a regional power and Nyayo having seven national team members on their squad, they enter the competition as favorites. National team players on their roster include Anthony Imanyara, James Mangerere, Timoi Itiken, James Njoroge, Caleb Ondiyo, James Omondi and Paul Muriuki. Three of them, Ondiyo, Omondi and Muriuki, recently competed at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in athletics and are expected to be at training camp tomorrow.
The competition is currently scheduled to include sixteen teams, eight men’s teams and eight women’s teams from Rwanada and Kenya. It is still possible that Uganda and Burundi may send teams.