Mercy Moim will lead her team at the Women's World Cup in Japan.
Lausanne, Switzerland, July 31, 2015 - When star player Mercy Moim and her teammates returned home after their sensational FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix Group 3 triumph, they were given a euphoric welcome by fans in Kenya.
With 22 points to her name, Moim scored the majority of her team’s points in the 3-1 final win against Peru, which secured Kenya’s victory in Group 3 and promotion to Group 2. After the greatest ever international success for African women’s volleyball, the “Malika Strikers” are now out to cause the odd upset at the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup, which takes place from August 22 to September 6 in Japan.
"The Grand Prix victory is a great achievement and a dream come true to the players and technical bench. We can't wait to compete in Grand Prix Group two next year – and to play the best teams in the World Cup. With God, everything is possible,” said attacker Moim.
Over the course of her career so far, Moim has already achieved more than female African volleyball players could ever have dreamed of in the past. Not only has she put Kenya firmly on the volleyball map with victory at the Grand Prix, but she also tasted success at club level with Finnish team Liiga Ploki last season. And Moim has been named MVP on multiple occasions.
“It has been humbling for me to learn more. The training facilities, the gymnasium and the kind of discipline being instilled into us is awesome. I gain a lot of exposure and experience in each and every game,” she said in an interview, going on to describe the differences between cold Finland and her hot home of Kenya. “The difference is in the facilities and how players are equipped. But our federation back home is doing a wonderful job considering the resources it has.” Whilst in Finland she misses Ugali – a traditional Kenyan food – and, above all, her son Cedrick.
Moim has experienced a lot in her life – and made Kenyan volleyball history. Her international career began aged just 13 at the Junior World Championship in Poland. During the 15th edition of the Africa Nations Cup in Nigeria in 2005, Moim, then 15 years old, became the youngest volleyball player to represent the country in the championships. Kenya went on to beat the hosts and lift the trophy. Since then, she has won various African championships – with the Kenyan national team and her club Kenya Prisons.
It all started in her home of Mt. Elgon. “Back in Kaboyowo primary school in Mount Elgon, I was involved in sports in general, though my passion was for volleyball – even with the lack of proper equipment like balls and nets. We somehow invented ways to play our sport. That is how it started and I loved it,” she recalled. In 2005 she moved to Cheptil Secondary School in Eldoret, which is known as one of the best volleyball playing schools in East Africa.
“High school volleyball was very competitive. Schools had the best players in the country. I was spotted and could represent the senior team and win the Africa Nations Cup. It was the start of a career, in which dreams have come true,” she said.
In 2006, she took her final secondary school exams. One year later, she switched to top club Kenya Prisons: “Since then I have developed as an all-round player.” She has been involved in World Championships, but the big dream is qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, having narrowly missed out in 2008 and 2012 against Algeria. The FIVB World Cup in Japan is the first opportunity, although the African qualifying tournament offers a more realistic chance.
Moim would like to promote volleyball in Kenya – and has already achieved a lot in this regard, although it has not always been easy. “We are usually defeated on basics, and not skill. If we can have adequate preparation in indoor facilities, I believe Kenya can shoot and become one of the best countries in the world.” Her long-term project is to start a volleyball academy where kids will be taught the game’s basics at a tender age, whilst also doing their studies. She once revealed as much in an interview: “I want to someday build an academy to give something back to society in the best way I know. There are several talents out there who need guidance and nurturing. If I can be a coach in my academy that would be my ultimate dream come true.”