• Sat. May 18th, 2024

Current World Netball Ambassador, Mary Waya recently restated her commitment to promote the development of netball in Nigeria at the grassroots, school and community levels, with the ultimate goal of leading to the emergence of netball clubs in future.

Mary Waya made this known recently during a telephone discussion with a Trustee of CSED Initiative, the Sport for Change NGO that is currently blazing the trail for the development of netball at the grassroots and school levels in Nigeria. The Malawian is the ex-Tanzania, Namibia, and Malawi national netball coach. She is also a former coach of the Mavericks Netball Team of England which plays in the Netball Super League.

It would be recalled that in March 2020, Mary Waya facilitated the training and Netball Africa certification of 24 Nigerians, as netball coaches. At the time Mary Waya visited Nigeria in March 2020, Nigeria had just recorded her first few cases of Covid-19. Mary Waya defied COVID-19 to lay the foundation for the revival of netball in Nigeria.

Then, netball in Nigeria was not only in a state of coma, it was like a patient in an isolation ward that had been abandoned to die an untimely death. After the post-Covid-19 restriction was lifted in Nigeria, and normalcy gradually returned to the sport and education sectors, CSED Initiative started its “Project 2027” grassroots netball development programme in July 2022.

The major goals of “Project 2027” are to bring the game of netball to the awareness of one million Nigerian school children, train and equip one thousand two hundred P.E. Teachers in netball, and through the process promote the right to play netball the Nigerian school girls.

To date, CSED Initiative through their “Project 2027” programme has trained and equipped more than 350 P.E. Teachers, athletes, and community youths to become netball coaches. The trained netball coaches have subsequently introduced netball to school students in seven states in Nigeria.

The next state on the “Project 2027” netball tour is going to be Cross River State. Mary Waya stated that her goal is to see that the foundation she laid in March 2020 is built upon by credible Nigerians who have the game of netball at heart. Mary Waya stated that she is willing to visit Nigeria soon in her capacity as a Netball Africa trainer to support the developmental work of CSED Initiative and any other NGO or government agency with passion and technical knowledge and use netball to develop the potential of the girl child in Nigeria.

Mary Waya mentioned that her future focus concerning supporting the development of netball in Nigeria is to nurture and develop more Netball Africa-certified coaches as well as develop the netball umpires and administrators who will take Nigerian netball to the next level. She stated that she is particularly pleased to know that CSED Initiative has started discussion with the Department of Human Kinetics and Sports Science of UNIBEN and the University of Uyo with a view of collaborating with them in respect of introducing a certificate program in netball, as well as piloting an online sport for change course that would be specifically targeted at female teachers and female athletes.

The two university departments would also be supported to research how sport for change practitioners could use netball and other sports to support, safeguard, and empower vulnerable persons (IDPs, wards of the state, and refugees) in Nigeria.

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