Josp Barasa interview

Coaching just like teaching is indeed a calling. Over the years, Kenya has produced great coaches with the likes of Jack Omukani and Juma Walukhu leading from the front. Recently, an influx of coaches has been experienced locally with a number of former internationals taking up the touchline job.

David ‘Dimosh’ Lung’aho is arguably the best coach in Kenya at the moment given his exploits with the ladies national team and Kenya Prisons ladies team. His success at the latter can accurately be attributed to his astute technical bench. ‘Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ is a Zulu proverb which loosely translates to ‘A person is a person because of other people’. In Josp Barasa, he not only has a erudite assistant but also a shrewd operator whose ability to read the game is unique.

The quiet tactician has been a major pillar for Kenya Prisons ladies team since its inception. Kenyanstar caught up with him and he takes us through his playing and coaching career as well as give insight on the way forward for Kenyan volleyball.

Kenyanstar: When did you start playing?
Barasa: I started playing at Malava Boys High School where I schooled from 1984 to 1989.Upon completion of my O levels I joined Ruiru Prisons team where I played from 1990 to 1997.The next year, I joined Kakamega Prisons where I served as player-coach till 2005.I also had a brief stint at Cereals prior to retirement.

Kenyanstar: What is the highest moment in your playing career?
Barasa: While at Kakamega Prisons, we beat Posta who were the best team in the league then. That victory earned us the tag ‘Giant killers’.

Kenyanstar: Who inspired you to take up coaching?
Barasa: My coach at Kakamega Prisons, the late Charles Owiti.

Kenyanstar: Many young players have failed to make a smooth transition from high school to club volleyball, what is the major cause of this?
Barasa: Most coaches at high school level tend to concentrate on attack and end up ignoring the basic skills such as reception and ball handling which are crucial to a player’s development.

Kenyanstar: What are your achievements in coaching so far?
Barasa: In high school category, I guided Samitsi to the nationals in 2004 and Malava Boys too from 2007 to 2011.I won the nationals’ title in 2011 with Malava Boys in the process qualifying for the East Africa Secondary School games. Since I joined Strathmore University in 2010, I have won the Kenya Universities Sports Association (KUSA) league on two occasions with the Panthers and once with the Jaguars. At club level, I have won the league with Kenya Prisons ladies team from 2007 only failing to win in 2011.Continentally; I have won gold in 5 African Club Championships from 2008 to 2013 only stumbling in the 2009 edition. Globally, my team has featured at the World Cup Championship for four consecutive years since 2010.At national team level I was the assistant coach of the ladies team that represented Kenya at the All Africa Youth games held in Botswana .Finally, I was also appointed assistant coach of the national Under 23 men team early this year.

Kenyanstar: What is the lowest moment in your coaching career?
Barasa: That was back in 2011 when we lost the playoff finals to arch rivals Kenya Pipeline. On Saturday we were leading 2-0 but the match was stopped due to heavy rains and postponed to Sunday. We unfortunately lost the rescheduled tie 3-0 on Sunday against the same opposition.

Kenyanstar: Give us a brief history of the Kenya Prisons ladies team?
Barasa: The team is now only 8 years old. In 2006, while still at Kakamega Prisons, our chairlady Mrs. Rose Muturi wanted to start a ladies team. Mr. David Kilundo who was the Sports Director then was of the same idea. I was then granted the coaching honors and guided my charges to position 4 in the league that year. My team was largely composed of fresh high school leavers from Mukumu girls, Lugulu girls and Chebukaka girls. The pioneer members include Gladys Wangui, Leah Ndeso, Pauline Nyongesa, Jane Jepkemboi and Tabitha Makunda. The following year, Lung’aho and I recruited the likes of Blacksides Agala, Mercy Moim, Lydia Maiyo and Jane Wacu and won the league that year. From then on, it has been success throughout for the girls.

Kenyanstar: What is the major cause of poor performance by Kenya at international level?
Barasa: I think inadequate preparations for international competitions have contributed largely to the poor results. Lack of proper training facilities and exposure in terms of friendlies is another major cause. Lastly, the lack of professional players is another factor especially at the global stage.

Kenyanstar: Some of your players at club level have joined the paid ranks in Europe, is this a step in the right direction?
Barasa: Yes it is! As a coach, it is a great feeling to see your players make positive progress in their careers. Wacu and Blacksides are now based in France while Moim plays in Finland. This is a new experience for them since they will be exposed to new training regimes and different styles of play altogether. It also motivates and boosts the morale of young players to keep working hard.

Kenyanstar: What are your hobbies?
I enjoy scouting and nurturing young talented players.

Kenyanstar: Where do you see Kenyan volleyball in the next 5 years?

Barasa: With young blood taking up leadership positions, the future looks bright. If the management and stakeholders work closely together the volleyball standards in the country should improve greatly.

Kenyanstar: Give us your parting shot.
Barasa: Youth programs are the way to go. We need to work towards having at least one talent academy in every county with competent coaches in charge. During the holidays, a league can be organized for these academy teams at different age group categories.

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