Deaf Basketball team intensify training ahead of Deaflympic Games

Kenya National Women’s Deaf Basketball team are targeting a top five finish at the 24th Summer Deaflympics in Caxias Do Sul, Brazil planned for May 1 to 15.The team’s first appearance at the prestigious event was in 2017 in Samsun, Turkey, where they finished eighth, and were awarded a Diploma Certificate, thanks to their outstanding performance on their debut.

Addressing the press Wednesday on the sidelines of the team’s training at Nyayo National Gymnasium in Nairobi, assistant coach Hilda Indasia said they do not want to set “unrealistic” targets.

She said they will be satisfied with a top five finish.

“We are really hoping to improve on what we did at the past Deaflympics in 2017. In the Games, at least we won a match. We don’t want to be unrealistic by saying we want to win gold or silver…Now we can look at a top five finish,” said Indasia. In the Games, Kenya are in pool B alongside the United States, Turkey, Lithuania and Ukraine.

Group A comprises hosts Brazil, Greece, Italy and Poland.

Coach Indasia said the pool is tough, thus they will have to work hard to achieve their target.

She decried lack of adequate time for preparation but exuded confidence ahead of the international outing.

“Those are powerhouses. A team like the USA is a top level basketball team. We know it is a big challenge ahead of us. We will have to work very hard and we are hoping to improve from what he did in the last Olympics,” said Indasia.

“It (the training) has been okay. We have made progress but we may have needed a bit more time because we have players from teams that were not active. We started with the fundamentals before going to technical stuff because the players are like beginners,” she added.

While 20 players are in camp at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani in Nairobi, only 12 will travel to Brazil for the Games.

The team’s captain Mercy Mideva said they are not intimidated by their powerhouse opponents.

She said they would also like to improve their ranking in the world. Kenya is ranked ninth globally in the women’s deaf basketball.

“Before we were feeling like America is strong but after the training we have had in camp, we believe that we can perform better. We trust in our abilities,” she said.

In 2019, Mideva was named Most Valuable (MVP) Deaf Basketball Player in the country and the best player of the year for Rongai Deaf Basketball.

In 2020, she was among those recognised by President Uhuru Kenyatta as sports heroes and heroines during the Mashujaa Day celebrations at Gusii Stadium in Kisii.

She said her personal target in Brazil is to be crowned the MVP in the women’s event.

Kenya National Men’s Deaf Basketball team are in Group A alongside Israel, United States, Argentina and Poland. Group B has Lithuania, hosts Brazil, Greece, Venezuela, Chinese Taipei and Ukraine.

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