Eight-time national basketball champions Ulinzi Warriors are ready for the inaugural Africa Masculine Military Basketball Championship due for June 11-21 in Congo, Brazzaville.
And the Warriors received the much needed ammunition when the Assistant Chief of Defence Forces in charge of Personnel and Logistics, major general Samuel Nandwa presented them with the national flag on Wednesday.
"I know you have performed well before and I expect you to uphold the momentum and show the rest of the continent your prowess," said Nandwa told the Warriors during the flag presentation ceremony at the Department of Defence, Nairobi.
Nandwa hopes that the tour in central Africa will not only serve as an opportunity for the Warriors to gain experience and skills but also enable them interact and explore other cultures.
"We know you are our best ambassadors but we expect you to uphold your usual high standards of discipline," Nandwa said.
Nandwa, who was flanked by Kenya Defence Forces Basketball chairman Colonel John Ouda and team manager Senior Sergeant Stephen Bartilol, said KDF recognises the need for a comprehensive programme for producing elite sportsmen and women across all disciplines.
"KDF Sports Control department shall invest in modern equipment and specialised training so as to attain sports excellence," said Nandwa.
Ulinzi Warriors, who leave the country on Sunday for the championship, are among 18 teams that have confirmed participation including hosts Congo Brazzaville, Angola, Egypt, Mali, Togo, Ghana, Algeria, Guinea and Guinea Bissau.
Bartilol noted that even though most of their opponents are stronger especially from West Africa, they are well prepared and look forward to returning home with the trophy. They might have lost visiting Ghana Revenue Authority 80-76 last weekend but Bartilol said it was a good learning curve.
The team boost of four international players in the like of captain William Ochieng (centre), who is also the national team skipper, Eric Mutoro (guard), Tiberius Menya (guard) and Ansent Wafula (shooting guard).
Ulinzi Warriors, who are currently placed second in the national league, have also recruited promising players like Hussein Mohammed (shooting guard) and Collins Matiro (guard) from Kenya Ports Authority (KPA) and Baobab respectively.
Bartilol said they expect to be joined by two more players (forwards), who are currently in recruits training school in October. They are Leting Watata formerly of Laiser Hill and David Ouma from Kisumu.
William Ochieng (centre), Vincent Juma (centre), Joseph Owino, Antonio Bwire
John Washika, Stephane Simiyu, Husein Mohammed, Joshua Okumu (3)
Erick Mutoro, Tiberius Menya, William Balozi, Stanley Ndicu (2)
Stephen Bartilol (team manager), William Balozi (Coach), Stanley Ndicu (Assistant Coach)