The Kenya Defence Forces will take part in the East Africa Community Military Games and Cultural Events volleyball competition for the first time in their history.
The 11th edition of the military games will be held in Bujumbura, Burundi from August 24 to September 6.
Team Kenya, made up of 121 athletes in six disciplines, was on Friday flagged off by Vice Chief of Defence Forces Lieutenant General Joseph Kasaon at the Ulinzi Gardens, KDF Headquarters in Nairobi.
The women’s volleyball team will be coached by former Kenya international Elisha Aliwa. Veteran player and coach Edna Rotich will be part of the team.
“This will be a good experience for us, our women team is ready and we are certain to win the top prize,” said Rotich.
“Of course the pressure will be on us being debutants. But we’ve got the experience to do the best,” added coach Aliwa.
The volleyball team will replace the men’s handball team at the games, to ensure that men and women take part in a similar number of events.
The men’s contingent, therefore, comprises Ulinzi Stars football, Ulinzi Warriors basketball and the cross country team.
The women’s contingent has cross country, netball and volleyball.
“The replacement has been made by the EAC Secretariat in order to increase women’s participation in the EAC Military Games,” said Lt. Gen. Kasaon, as he handed the flag to the team.
The Kenya Defence Forces will be aiming to defend the overall title they won during the 2016 edition in Kigali, Rwanda.
Ulinzi Stars will be looking to spark last year’s form when they beat former title holders Rwanda in the opening match and later in the final (1-0), to reclaim the title. Kenya won the men and women’s cross country titles, and took silver and bronze in the men’s basketball and women’s netball respectively.
“I urge you to ensure that we get good returns in this edition like we have in over the years, and I know you will deliver,” added Lt. Gen. Kasaon. Ulinzi Stars, under coach Benjamin Nyangweso, will be led in attack by SportPesa Premier League top scorer Stephen Waruru, who has 11 goals this season.
The team leaves next Thursday for the games. Lt. Gen Kasaon will lead the soldiers at the opening ceremony of the games, and Chief of Defence Forces General Samson Mwathethe will be present during the closing ceremony.