V-ballers start Beijing preps

The national volleyball team yesterday convened at Amahoro indoor stadium for its first training session ahead of next month’s 2008 Olympics qualifiers.

The national volleyball team yesterday convened at Amahoro indoor stadium for its first training session ahead of next month’s 2008 Olympics qualifiers.

The qualifiers scheduled for February 1-10 will be staged in Pretoria, South Africa while the 2008 Olympics Games will staged in Beijing, China later this year.

The 18-man provisional team involves players from 2007 national league champions APR, Rwanda National University (UNR), Kigali Volleyball Club (KVC) and Groupe Scolaire de Butare.

In the absence of the national team coach Gerard Jouault, Emmanuel Ndungutse (assistant coach) is handling the team.

It is said that the French who took charge of the team in 2006 has been on holiday in France but is expected to link up with the team this Friday.

“He has been on holiday in France but we believe he will join us this Friday,”
Ndungutse said before noting that the team will have continuous daily training sessions until its departure to South Africa.

“We intend to have daily sessions until we travel to South Africa. During the course of the sessions, we shall trim down the number to 12,” the former UNR tactician noted. Although 16 countries have registered for the qualifiers, Ndungutse clarified that only 12 will take part. “We have been informed by CAVB (Confederation of African Volleyball) that only twelve countries will compete in the qualifiers. The good news is that Rwanda is among the twelve,” he said.
Despite impressive performances in 2004, 2005 and 2006, the national volleyball team came under critism last year after a series of poor performances.

Rwanda participated in two international events and on both occasions looked far from their best. The drastic run started with the All Africa Games qualifiers that were held in Sudan.

Despite being pre-tournament favorites, Rwanda finished third behind Kenya and Sudan. This run was carried on in the African Cup of Nations where she could not even get past the group stages.
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