THE Junior U21, Junior U19 and Beach Volleyball U23 women and men have done it this year. The question now is whether the Senior Volleyball National team can make it to the World Cup, which will be held in Poland next year.
Rwanda was the first team to join Egypt in qualifying to the third and final qualifying round from the Zone V Qualifiers currently taking place in Kigali. The battle remains between Kenya and Uganda to determine the third team from this Zonal Qualifier.
Paul Bitok’s team will possibly meet Cameroon, Algeria, Nigeria and Gabon, in one of the tough groups in Africa, but if they fail to beat Uganda today in the last round-robin match at Amahoro indoor stadium, they will be in same group with African champion Egypt, Botswana and Zambia, the Zone 2 runners-up.
The volleyball team has gained confidence and experience from competing with big teams like Kenya and Egypt and this can put Rwanda in a good position going into the next round which is set for early next year.
It is a hard working team and there is promise that the future of Rwandan volleyball looks bright.
The players have learned a lot from the competing in different tournament (Carre d’AS, Genocide Memorial Tournament, League and Volleyball Tournament against Malaria) and as a result, the team is getting better results.
According to the head coach, the players’ mindset towards the game and competitions has changed a lot and they are now better players, “but they need to be prepared to improve even more to be able to compete at the highest level.
Rwandan volleyball has achieved unprecedented success this year after the country sent four teams to world championships, and now the focus in on the senior team that has qualified for the last round of the world cup qualifiers.
Besides football, volleyball and cycling are some of the country’s most popular sports but volleyball has been more successful particularly this year.
And the federation should ensure good preparation for the players as the team prepares for the last round, which will determine the three African representatives in Poland.
They need to continue to build a strong team, which could go to the next round and have a chance to shock the big boys because so far they have achieved nothing apart from qualifying for world meets.
Already, two beach volleyball teams U23 men and women played in the world cup held in Poland, the U19 (boys) team took a part in Mexico, while the U21 also played in the world championships in Turkey in what has been an outstanding calendar year for Rwandan volleyball.
The Federation can work hard to see the team beat Cameroon, Algeria and Nigeria so that they can make history for Rwanda volleyball.
For now the most important thing is to give motivation to the players. The game is developing slowly and surely and if there’s continuity with what they’re doing, no African team would pose a big threat to Rwanda.
It is good to have the team in last round for the world championships qualifiers but they have to continue working even harder than before, the team needs to play many competitive warm-up games ahead of the next round.
The federation must do whatever it takes to arrange friendly matches with some of the teams that have qualified for the last round in order to give the players and the coaching staff a taste of what to expect.
The current state of Rwandan volleyball is good news for the Government of Rwanda which set itself a target of being in the top three on the continent in both basketball and volleyball by 2017 and it appears that volleyball is on track to reach that target.
Rwanda has qualified for All Africa Games in 2003 and 2011 and now Rwanda can make one of most important stories in history if it defies odds to qualify for the Senior World Championships next year—it’s a long shot but one worth trying.