Volleyball coach denies he was fired for bedding players

KCB women's volleyball team players celebrate a point against Kenya Pipeline

Vernon Khainga, a once-promising volleyball coach has been suspended from his role in the KCB women’s volleyball club.

Khainga is alleged to have been linked to shoddy dealings in the players’ transfer and personal relationship with some members of the playing unit.

Investigations are ongoing, and he could lose his job should he be found guilty of the accusations levelled against him.

According to inside sources at KCB, a club known for churning out great volleyballers like Margret Indakhala, the late Violet Baraza, Praxcides Agala and Mercy Moim among others, Khainga is accused of signing ‘rejects’ from other clubs in what has been termed as ‘slapdash deals,’ where potential recruits had to part with ‘kitu kidogo’ in order to sign contracts with the bankers.

Khainga’s coaching tactics were also questioned by top KCB officials after they went through the tactician’s record.

The embattled coach was accused of trying to win by ‘killing other teams’ after he recently signed an ineligible player from Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) women’s volleyball team.

“How do you sign a player who has already played for another team just because you think she is a threat to your team?” posed a sources close to the team, but who asked to remain anonymous.

“There is a new management in place that deals with sports, and they looked at everything that he has won and from the records, the few titles that KCB has under him came about because either (Kenya) Prisons or (Kenya) Pipeline or both did not attend the championships. Besides that, there are some serious investigations which are ongoing, but I can’t divulge more information at the moment,” added our source.

But Khainga denied the allegations, saying that he has no relationship with any player outside the courts.

“I was told to step aside because there is some restructuring going on. But I am still attending training, though I don’t do much. I still have a contract and receiving my salary,” he said.

He added that: “I’ve never had any romantic relationship with any player. And if you talk about signing players, it is the coach who has the power to sign players and should take full responsibility.”

The Nairobian has established that part of the restructuring could involve bringing on board coach Japheth Munala of Kenya Pipeline and approaching players from reigning national champions to join the bankers’ ranks.

Among the players who have been marked for mass poaching are Triza Atuka, Noel Murambi and Leonida Kasaya among others from Pipeline.

According to a source, these players have been promised a monthly salary of Sh80,000 plus medical insurance, a better deal than what they are currently getting at Pipeline, where they are reportedly earning between Sh35,000 and Sh50,000 a month.

But it is not only the once mighty KCB that have been battling poor performance. In Western, players from both the Bungoma County men's and women’s volleyball teams have received a paltry Sh10,000 payment for their services for the last six months.

KCB players during a training session

With the tough economic times, some players have been forced to trek to and from training due to lack of bus fare as their ‘employer’ conveniently ‘forgets’ to remit the meagre allowances. The issue has escalated to a point where players have boycotted training altogether.

“We were only paid for the first leg (March) and nothing more to date. The initial agreement was to pay players training allowance plus match allowance (Sh10,000) per leg. We were paid Sh10,000 after the first leg, but it’s not clear how much we were entitled to per month as we are never paid monthly allowances,” one of the players told The Nairobian.

The first leg, which ironically was held in Bungoma, we are told, was shrouded in controversy after players; some of whom had travelled from Nairobi, were forced to put up at the homes of their colleagues who happen to be residents of the county, to cut on expenses.

“Some players who came from Nairobi slept in our house and had to take boda bodas to the match venue during the tournament. It was laughable when breakfast was ordered and each player was told not to spend more than Sh30 on meals!” added our source whom we cannot name for fear of victimisation.

Vitalis Kongani was coy when contacted to comment on the allegations. “Proceed with the information that you have. What are you going to do with the information? Are you going to pay players after I’ve told you that they’ve been paid or are you going to find someone to pay them?” he scoffed.

The players are now accusing Kongani of lying to them to join the broke Bungoma County. But Kongani now says that the team is not sponsored by the county government.

“As far as I know, the team is sponsored by Bungoma County Government because that’s what we were told at the beginning of the season. We were even flagged off by the Bungoma County Deputy Governor when the county hosted the first leg.

“If they claim now that it is not a county government project, then why did the county officials flag us off, and who paid the allowances for that leg?” asked another source who spoke to The Nairobian on condition of anonymity.

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