Start of school year hurts junior volley team preparations

Friday February 8 2013

By BRIAN MUGUME Special Correspondent

National volleyball team coach Paul Bitok is ruing the start of the 2013 academic year on January 7 in all Rwandan schools.

The former Kenyan international player named a team of 17 for this year’s men’s CAVB Junior African Championship, which will be held in Tunisia from February 28 - March 9 but all of his players are secondary school and university students who cannot miss lessons to attend training.

The team only trains together three times a week — Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays — at Amahoro indoor stadium.

“We can’t train together for one whole month because the players have to attend classes,” Bitok lamented. “The only time we trained together was in September last year. When we are together, we try to use the time we have seriously. I fear this will affect our ambition of staging a good performance in Tunisia.”

The team is expected to officially request schools to release some of the called-up players so that they can prepare together as a team before they travel to Tunisia.

“We are working on it with the help of the federation because, if we continue to train like this, our ambition in this tournament will be hindered,” he added.

The team plans to play friendly matches in Europe and North Africa so as to enhance their form ahead of the continental tournament.

They are due to start camp on February 10 but this will depend on whether they get all the players on time.

Meanwhile, Bitok has promoted two U-17 players to the junior side following their impressive performance.

Right attacker Samuel Niyogisubizo Tyson from Groupe Scolaire de Nyakarambi and Libero Oreste Gabo Muhirwa (College Chris Roi) guided Rwanda to a bronze medal in the Africa U-17 Championship in Algeria to qualify to this year’s World U-17 championships in Mexico.

This will be Rwanda’s second appearance at the continental showpiece after 2010 when, under Brazilian coach Paulo de Tarsio, they finished fourth, behind Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco.

The major continental forces in this competition are defending champions Tunisia, runners-up Egypt and Algeria, and Cameroon.