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Group Pledges Commitment To Revamp Netball In Nigeria

(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Association of Former Female Athletes in Nigeria (AFFAN) has promised to revive, develop and promote the game of netball across the country.
Netball is one of AFFAN’s key areas of intervention with the main objective of helping to revamp and restructure the game in Nigeria.

The President of the AFFAN, Dr. Esther Oluwatoyin Aluko gave the assurance at the unveiling ceremony of the first netball court in the country and presentation of equipment, which was held at the Old Parade Ground on Saturday in Abuja.

The unveiling ceremony was tagged: ‘#AFFAN revamp netball’ and the group is poised to develop the sport from the grassroots. Meanwhile, the essence of having the netball court in Abuja, is to create awareness.

At the ceremony, netball equipment, including netball balls, rims/nets, and training bibs, were presented to representatives from the six geopolitical zones in the country.

Dr. Aluko said the association’s mission is to develop the sport in the six geopolitical zones to popularize the game in all states.

“We want the game to be known in every primary and tertiary school in the country because this is where we can bring out raw talent. We will organize more competitions to catch them young”, she said.

According to her, the first thing is to create awareness of the sports in the country, adding that the game was in existence in the year 60s and 70s, but it could not be sustained because of lack of facilities.

“I played netball in the 60s in the primary school and I played netball in the 70s in the secondary schools.

“We don’t have the netball courts and basketball came and killed the sport and took over even the few existing courtyards.

“We need a permanent netball court. We have spoken to the officials of FCT secondary school boards, and they have assured us that they will give us three secondary schools per each Abuja council area”, she added.

Dr. Aluko, who is also the Secretary of Nigeria Netball Federation said they are sending out the equipment to zonal areas to develop the sport, adding that without facilities it is practically impossible to develop any sport.

“We are sending out the equipment to primary, secondary schools and zonal centres for them to be able to construct net court neighborhood. It is important for us to spread the game of netball in the states. We can’t just stand here in Abuja and say Netball is back. This is just an official release.

“We have already received requests from some clubs in the States and some potential institutions to obtain this equipment. We need the facilities to build infrastructure to spread the game in the neighborhood; we are working hard as an association to develop our goal, which is to revive the sport in Nigeria”, she further explained.

The first set of netball equipment the association received from its partner, Community Sports and Education Development (CSED) in 2019, was donated to the Royal Family Academy (RFA) to create awareness and for the training of their students and students from the surrounding schools using their sport ground as a training centre.

Subsequently, AFFAN organized a netball competition among the students of RFA to celebrate the 2021 edition of the International Olympic Day. The game of netball has since become popular among the students of RFA.

AFFAN president also disclosed that the association has now set up a technical team of experienced individuals in sports to revamp the game of netball in Nigeria, adding that part of the strategy adopted to accomplish this goal is the introduction of netball game in schools.

“In order to achieve this goal, our association in partnership with CSED had trained four netball coaches, who have started training other coaches and game teachers that are expected to teach students and other coaches and games teachers that are expected to teach students and others the game of netball.

“We are also pleased to inform you that AFFAN received a new set of netball equipment this year, courtesy of our partner, CSED. AFFAN is currently training some identified players with the aim of having a pool of players ready for future competitions and in preparation for the 13th All Africa Games (AAG), h Ghana 2023 qualifying tournaments”, she stressed.

She further explained that after a long time of absence in the AAG, Netball is now one of the games to be played during the 2023 tournament.

She added that AFFAN has committed a lot of financial resources for research and consultation, advocacy, building of a netball court, mobilizing players and supporting them with stipends for trainings and procuring more netball equipment.

Dr. Aluko however, acknowledged that there is still much to be accomplished in the areas of construction of more netball courts and provision of equipment, sponsorships of competitions in schools and at various sports centres all over the country.

“On behalf of AFFAN, I want to use this opportunity to appeal to corporate organisations, philanthropists and well-meaning Nigerians to support AFFAN in her laudable agenda of helping young athletes to become a better version of themselves, successful in sport, education, career, family life and responsible citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”, she concluded.


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