Nairobi — The national women's 3×3 basketball team are optimistic of a debut appearance at the Paris Olympics in 2024 after an impressive outing at the Commonwealth Games in July.
Team manager Nelly Odera says qualifying for the Summer Games will be the ultimate step-up from their gains at the Club Games.
"It was the first time that the 3×3 Kenyan basketball team was at the Commonwealth Games and similarly, we are praying that it will be the first time that we qualify for the Olympics. We want to assure you that we will try our very best to not only qualify but to represent Kenya well at the competition," Odera said.
The ladies arrived in Birmingham as newbies but won over admirers after a fairytale run to the quarters where they lost 21-12 to the hosts.
Looking back to their Commonwealth Games campaign, Odera said it was an eye-opener, replete with lessons to enable them perform better in subsequent assignments.
"It was an honour and a privilege to be selected by NOCK (National Olympic Committee of Kenya) to represent the country at the Commonwealth Games where first of all we realised that experience to get ready using all the resources that were provided to us. The technical experience and the strength and conditioning... these were the things we had that convinced the girls that they were able to make it the far that they did," she said.
The team is one of two national teams - the other being the women's volleyball team (Malkia Strikers) - to benefit from Ksh 4.5 million Olympic scholarship fund to aid their preparations for the Paris Olympics as well as other international outings.Sign up for free AllAfrica Newsletters
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Speaking at the same time, Kenya Basketball Federation (KBF) secretary general Ambrose Kisoi said the federation has rolled out a strategy to grow 3×3 basketball at the grassroots.
"We partnered with KSSA (Kenya Secondary School Sports Association) to promote the sport in their school games, which took place in Nakuru this year. We are happy that the takeoff and the reception was very good. During our selection of the teams to represent the country at various championships, we have always carried out a countrywide recruitment so as we speak right now, all our branches are aware of 3×3 basketball," Kisoi said.
He promised that the federation will properly utilize the funds to better the standards of the game in the country.
"At the lower level, we have introduced it in the schools so it is a game we can say is spreading very fast. From now onwards, with this funding, we are going to sit down as a committee and develop programme on recruitment, identification and development of talent."
Apart from the Olympics qualifiers, the ladies are gearing up for the fourth edition of the Africa Cup in Cairo, next month.