The 24th Summer Deaflympics
2021 in Caxias do Sul, Brazil

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Deaflympics: Coach Mwaniki says his charges are not under pressure

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NAIROBI, Apr 23 – National men’s Deaf basketball team head coach Jeff Mwaniki says he will not set unrealistic targets for his team that will represent the country at the 24th Deaflympics scheduled for Caxias Do Sul in Brazil from May 1 to 15.

Mwaniki says he will not put pressure on the team ahead of the three week championship.

The team he said will take one game at a time when they face powerhouses Israel, United States, Argentina and Poland in pool A while pool B has Lithuania, hosts Brazil, Greece, Venezuela, Chinese Taipei and Ukraine.

Mwaniki, 35, who is the head coach of basketball at Kenya Academy of Sports, identified the United States as their main rivals and termed Argentina, Israel and Brazil are equally good teams.

Basketballers LEAKEY NYABUTO and ELISA LAMB in action at training. Photo/KELLY AYODI

“The US have been dominant in Deaflympics because they have players who play in leagues and we will try to expose their weaknesses and flaws,” said the tactician.

The team has failed to win a game in the last two championships and coach Mwaniki says he is confident of an improved performance in Brazil.

“Based on the competition, my target as a coach is to have them play at their best. I’m not going to put pressure on them to win gold medals. We have to be realistic with our goals,” he said at the team’s Kasarani gymnasium training camp.

The preparations have been positive and I thank the government for being there for the Deaf team. The unfortunate bit is they have not been competing from where they come from because they come from counties and town where there are no basketball activities.”

National men’s Deaf basketball team posing for a photo/PHOTO/KELLY AYODI

“After here they go back and relax but the beauty of it, we have been having a conversation with government to come up with their own league.”

The technical bench has whittled the team from 20 to 12 who will travel to Brazil. He has integrated six senior and same number of junior players.

“I mostly selected utility players and fixed position players which is a mistake most coaches make,” remarked the coach.

Captain and point guard Calvin Musalia, 38, who was in the team that represented Kenya in the 2013 and 2017 Deaflympics says Kenya will field a better team this time round.

“In 2013 and 2017, we were rookies but now we are solid. We are confident of better run in Brazil because we have learnt a lot and we play with more freedom now,” said Musalia.

Basketballers WILSON OBANGE and NICHOLAS ALUOCH during training. Photo/KELLY AYODI