Malkia Strikers' coach savours inspiring moment with volleyball legend Giba

© Paul Bitok Facebook

VOLLEYBALL Malkia Strikers' coach savours inspiring moment with volleyball legend Giba

Festus Chuma 10:30 - 29.07.2023

The Kenyan tactician was pleased to meet the Brazilian after watching his side exit the FIVB Women’s Volleyball Challenger Cup.

Kenya's women's volleyball national team assistant coach, Paul Bitok, had a memorable encounter with former Brazilian volleyball captain Gilberto Amauri de Godoy Filho, popularly known as Giba, during the FIVB Challenger Cup in France on Friday.

The encounter took place after Kenya's heartbreaking quarter-finals exit, with a 3-1 loss to Colombia in Laval, France.

Sharing the momentous meeting on his social media pages, Bitok expressed his admiration for Giba, who has been an icon in the world of volleyball. 

The two volleyball enthusiasts exchanged conversations, and Bitok couldn't contain his excitement as he revealed, "Legend Giba believed in me and he touched my Rungu today in France and gave me blessings to be one of the great leaders in the future, both in Kenya and on the world level."

The "Rungu" holds a special significance for Bitok as it symbolises power and authority in his native Kalenjin community. 

He took the opportunity to thank Mzee Augustine and Simat elders for presenting him with this meaningful gift, a gesture that strengthened his resolve to become a leader in Kenya.

Bitok's journey to becoming an influential volleyball coach has been an inspiring one. 

Born in the lesser-known village of Simat, Uasin Gishu County, he initially pursued basketball but faced restrictive rules in the sport. 

It was during his time at Kapsabet High School that he decided to give volleyball a try, a decision that would change his life and impact those around him.

At the tender age of 19, Bitok made his professional debut in the national league, catching the attention of Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) who brought him into their fold. 

His exceptional talent didn't go unnoticed, and he soon found himself signing with a Tunisian club in 2003, becoming the first Kenyan to play professional volleyball abroad. After a brief stint in Tunisia, he moved to Croatia to further his career.

In 2005, Bitok returned to Kenya with a new purpose in mind – coaching. He took up the role of head coach for his former club, KCB, where he quickly made his mark. 

Under his guidance, the team went from a fourth-place position in the national league to clinching the Africa Club Championship title in 2004, a feat that astonished many.

Bitok's reputation as a skilled coach spread far and wide, attracting attention from the Rwandan national team in 2008. 

While he initially declined the offer, he later embraced the opportunity after undertaking a coaching course in Budapest, Hungary. His strategic programmes and coaching prowess transformed Rwanda into a formidable volleyball force in Africa.

In 2019, Bitok's coaching journey took him back to his homeland when he was appointed as the head coach of the Kenya national women's volleyball team, affectionately known as the Malkia Strikers.

The impact was immediate, as he guided the team to an African Championships title and secured their first Olympic Games qualification in 16 years.

Bitok's remarkable achievements did not go unnoticed, and in 2020, he was recognised as the Coach of the Year at the SOYA (Sports Personality of the Year Awards) ceremony held in Mombasa.

Recently, at the 2022 FIVB World Volleyball Championship in the Netherlands, Bitok's coaching acumen shone through again when he helped Malkia Strikers secure a significant victory, further solidifying his position as a respected figure in international volleyball.