- No sooner had Sikuku arrived than he emerged Most Valuable Player in a tournament
- Says he aims to gain the necessary experience to help the national team back home
- “I want to play alongside the best in the” universe
Botswana men’s volleyball national team player, Igobe Sikuku, has traced his way back to the Middle East where he was crowned Most Valuable Player (MPV) when the ink on his lucrative deal with Israel’s top club,, Hapoel Jerusalem was barely dry.
This comes after his short stint in a professional setup at Al Sahel Sporting Club in Kuwait before Sikuku returned home early last year due to COVID-19 setbacks.
The former Yaros Volleyball Club swift opposite hitter left the Kuwait club in December 2020 when his contract was also disrupted by measures to combat COVID-19 that led to suspension of sporting activities across the world.
He is already in Jerusalem where he landed on 26 August and spent two weeks in mandatory isolation before joining the rest of his teammates at the clubhouse in September. Upon his arrival at training, he was put among other trialists from various countries across the world. In the highly competitive environment, Sikuku impressed Hapoel authorities and soon earned himself a one-year contract with an option to renew it.
In an exclusive interview with Gazette Sports recently, Sikuku described himself as happy to have earned a deal in a professional setup, especially after spending almost one-and-a-half years without playing or training due to COVID-19 restrictions in Botswana.
“I am very happy with my move to Israel because I have wanted to play in a professional setup for a long period of time,” he said. “I aim to gain the necessary experience to help the national team back home improve their rankings and qualify for big tournaments.
“I have signed with a big club dominated by national team players. There are only two African players, me and a player from Cameroon, and they are happy with our performance so far. I look forward to getting frequent game time this side.”
Sikuku made his debut for Hapoel Jerusalem last weekend in a two-day local tournament that pitted all of Isreal’s 16 elite teams and was crowned the Most Valuable Player (MVP) after his impressive performance that led to his team scooping a silver medal on the day. “The tournament was really tough and was a good test for most of us,” he said. “I used the chance that I was given and made sure that I did my best to impress my coaches.
“I played all games but it was not easy to outplay those players who, unlike me who left Botswana without even hitting a ball since the league ended in 2018, have been active all along. I am going to continue to do my best in order to attract more interest from scouts from across the world because I want to play alongside the best players in the universe.”
Sikuku joins other Batswana volleyball stars in the Diaspora such as Gaoleseletswe Lizzy Gasekgonwe and Tshiamo Chakalisa who are plying their trade in Rwanda. His performance is nothing short of a feat because Botswana has been inactive in volleyball for almost three years after the end of an eight-year long Mascom sponsorship in 2018.
The country has dropped drastically in African rankings as a result, especially the women’s national team that was once ranked number 5 on the continent.