Africa
Kenya enters 2014 FIVB volleyball World Grand Prix
Last Updated: 2013-12-04 08:48 | Xinhua
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Kenya's quest for international exposure got a shot in the arm on Tuesday after it was nominated to join Algeria as Africa representative in the lucrative World Volleyball Grand Prix in 2014.

Waithaka Kioni, the Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) chairman, expressed his happiness for the elevation of their women's team to the premier volleyball competition.

However, he said financial constraints might be the bottleneck in their ambition to rub shoulders with the world's best teams.

"The World Grand Prix is an international circuit and if it comes out that each team must fund its tour expenses, then it would be difficult for Kenya to honor the matches. We have shortfall in finances and we will discuss with FIVB if they can bail us out," said Kioni in Nairobi.

World volleyball governing body, FIVB, said Kenya would join other seven teams in the expanded World Grand Prix, which brings together the best countries and regions in indoor volleyball across the globe.

"The FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix has followed in the footsteps of the FIVB Volleyball World League and will include 28 countries for the first time in its history up from the usual 20 teams in 2014," said a statement by FIVB.

Only Algeria, who were Africa representatives at the London Olympic Games, played in the 2013 World Grand Prix, but Kenya's rising star has been spotted by FIVB and they will now join the top competition, played on round robin format in the New Year.

"We are increasing by eight the number of participants from 20 who featured earlier this year," said FIVB statement.

The 28 countries and regions have been split across three pools. Pool A has 12 teams including defending champions and world number one Brazil, the United States, Japan, China, Russia, Italy, Serbia, the Dominican Republic, Germany, South Korea, Turkey and Thailand.

Another eight teams make Pool B, which has Poland, Peru, Puerto Rico, Netherlands, Argentina, Canada, Cuba and Belgium.

The third pool will have teams from Kenya, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Mexico, Bulgaria and Australia.

"The distribution was based on world ranking with the exceptions of Belgium and Cuba, who had qualified via continental qualification tournaments, and Australia who participate as part of the Oceania development program," said FIVB.

A draw was conducted during the meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland to determine which positions each country fills in the pool distribution.

The FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix 2014 will start on July 25 with teams in Pool B and Pool C in action. The top seeds, who are in Pool A will begin proceedings one week later on Aug. 1.

The teams will play round robin across three weeks in the preliminaries before the finals from August 20 when six teams - the four best in the preliminary round ranking, the finals host and the winner of the final four from Pool B - will feature.

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