The indoor sports hall of the Jolly Nyame Stadium Jalingo was recently (9th and 10th February 2023) a beehive of activity, as the “PROJECT 2027” netball train landed in Taraba State. The event which was jointly organized by the Taraba Ministry of Youth and Sports Development and the Taraba State Ministry of Education was powered by CSED (Community Sport and Educational Development) Initiative.
CSED Initiative is a leading sport for change NGO in Nigeria – “PROJECT 2027” is a grassroots netball development programme that aims to promote the right of Nigerian girls to play the game of netball in Nigeria.
Netball could have died “unnaturally in Nigeria,” if not for the efforts of the CSED Initiative and the Naija Netball Stakeholders who have strongly resisted the non-challant attitude of the NOC and some top civil servants in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports in developing netball in Nigeria.
“PROJECT 2027” ultimate goal is to bring the game of netball to the attention of one million Nigerian school girls before the end of 2027, by training one thousand two hundred P.E. Teachers in schools all over Nigeria. These trained P.E. Teachers will be expected to impart the knowledge gained from attending the free netball training to their students.
The two-day basic netball training for P.E. Teachers in Taraba State led to the certification of 34 (thirty-four) new netball coaches. The training was conducted by two Netball Africa-certified instructors, Dr Grace Ataha and Godwin Edema Fuludu. The two instructors made use of the training package that was developed by the current World Netball Ambassador, Mary Waya, who is the former coach of the Tanzania and Malawi national netball teams.
The two instructors stressed the importance of the P.E. Teachers ensuring they promote the safety and welfare of their students by ensuring that they implement the safeguarding advice that they have received during the netball training.
Furthermore, the Teachers will be provided with access to develop themselves by doing online safeguarding training and other online sports for change training that would be made available to them in future. As part of the netball training curriculum, the new coaches were trained in the theory and practical aspects of netball, which is the only sport in the world that is specifically designed for girls and women.
The attendees of this free training course were intrigued by the unique rules of the game of netball. These rules require players to stay in specific parts of the netball court that are divided into three parts. The position of a player in this team sport (netball) determines the area of the court that they can operate.
Netball has seven different positions and the players have to pass and move the ball from one end of the court to the other end, and they can only score a point when their goal scorer (GS) successfully shoots the ball into their opponent’s rim that has an internal diameter of 38cm or 380mm.
The two netball rims are placed on vertical poles that are 10 feet tall (for adult players). However, the poles could be adjusted to 9 feet for U-12 players and 8 feet for U-9 players. Netball is played in four intervals of 15 minutes each. The Netball World Cup will be held from 28th July to 6th August 2023 in Cape Town (South Africa).
During his welcome address to the participants at the opening ceremony of the training event, the Director of Sports, Mr George Shitta urged the participants to carefully listen to the teachings of the instructors, who have held similar basic netball training events in five other states (Edo, Delta, Akwa Ibom, Enugu and Bayelsa) in Nigeria.
Mr Shitta thanked CSED for coming to Taraba State again, just after less than a month of holding a grassroots badminton training event in Taraba State. Given the important role sports play in unifying Nigerians, Mr Shitta urged private organizations and individuals to complement government efforts by investing more in grassroots sports development with a view of engaging the youths in pro-social activities that would be beneficial to them and the society in future.
Mr Shitta stated that the Sports Council will consolidate the gains of the training through proper monitoring to ensure the effective utilization of the free starter packs (netball balls, finger-held whistles, rims/nets and two sets of netball training bibs) that were distributed to the P.E. Teachers of the schools and staff of the Sports Council.
A member of staff of the Taraba State Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Abba Joseph Giwa (Nurse) spoke to the participants about sports injuries and how athletes could avoid and manage these types of injuries in future. Mr Giwa was also on standby to provide basic first aid treatment to the participants that sustained any minor sprain during the fun-filled practical aspect of the training.
Some of the participants commended the event organizers and assured them that the knowledge gained will be instilled into their students. One of the P.E. Teachers, Aleng Sam travelled by road from the Mambilla Plateau area to Jalingo, a journey of more than seven hours to attend this netball training. The Mambilla Plateau is the highest in Nigeria and has an average elevation of 1,600 metres above sea level.