How ‘outsider’ Kioni conquered the volleyball world

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Four African Women’s Cup of Nations titles, four African Games gold medals and the historic FIVB Grand Prix Group 3 victory plus other countless achievements are enough to make any federation chief content with his or her accomplishments.

But if you thought winning alone is enough to quench the thirst of all human beings, then you have not met him yet.

“It’s something that bothers me and will bother me for the rest of my life. It goes without saying that we have good players across the nation but it’s sad that they haven’t gotten the goodwill from sponsors. But I hope someday it will pick up,” Kenya Volleyball Federation president Waithaka Kioni tells me with an animated gesture as we settle down for the interview at his office in Muthaiga, Nairobi.

Kenya Volleyball Federation president Waithaka
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Kenya Volleyball Federation president Waithaka Kioni gestures during an interview with Nation Sport at his office in Nairobi on January 10, 2020. PHOTO | SILA KIPLAGAT | NATION MEDIA GROUP

It’s the failure to lift men’s volleyball team – both beach and indoor volleyball – to the great heights their women’s counterparts have hit that is haunting the veteran administrator.

Way back in the 19th century, when civilisation was still taking shape in the western world, an American philosopher Henry David Thoreau said: “Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.” Thoreau probably didn’t know that his words would be relevant in the 21st century and probably for the rest of the years which the human race will exist.

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