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CSED trains netball coaches in 38 schools, refugee camps in Cross River

…distributes netball kits as government harps on sustainability

By Frank Ulom

The Community Sports and Educational Development (CSED), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) known for the development of sports in schools and communities, has trained Physical and Health Education (PHE) teachers from 38 schools, including three from refugee camps in Cross River State.

The two-day training which took place on 2nd and 3rd March 2024 in Calabar also featured the distribution of full netball kits to the 38 school/refugee representatives.

According to Mr Edema Fuludu, National Coordinator of CSED, the initiative is to train the girl child on netball as well as education and Cross River was chosen as one of the states to lead the 2027 initiative – ensuring that one million Nigerian school girls are aware of netball.

Speaking to journalists after the training and presentation of kits, Mr Orlando Asuquo, Director of School Sports in the Cross River State Ministry of Education, lauded the initiative by CSED, saying that the Ministry will ensure netball is established in all schools across the State.

Asuquo said: “I want to appreciate CSED and my Commissioner for making sure that this initiative came to pass because when the letter came, it was like it was not going to work – because they were looking for 99.99 per cent of females. We thought we may not have it, and it was as if we were discouraging them but they insisted.

“I’m happy that with God by our side we were able to push and see that we were able to get what you have seen today. It’s a welcomed development.

“Already, I have already discussed with coach Edema that we need a comprehensive list of those who have been given the equipment and attended the training. Definitely, we are going to do a follow-up. We will visit the schools as soon as we get the list. We will continue to communicate with the principals and we’ll pay them a surprise visit to see that it is established in their respective schools.

“Because of logistics, we will be following up on schools in Calabar, Akpabuyo and Akamkpa for now.

“I thank God that the Sports Commission is involved, and they have also gotten their equipment. We are happy that His Excellency is interested in sports. You know when the head is sick the entire body is sick. And when the head is alive the body will be alive so I was happy that we have a sports-loving governor. My Commissioner, Distinguished Senator Stephen Odey, has already told me that anything sport I should not allow it go. I believe that we will establish it.”

CSED trains netball coaches in 38 schools, refugee camps in Cross River
Mr Edema Fuludu, National Coordinator of CSED (2nd Right) with some of the beneficiaries

On his part, Fuludu, who is a former Super Eagles of Nigeria footballer and 1994 AFCON winner, said the game is primarily for girls, adding that their target is to train at least 1,200 PE teachers as well as get one million school girls to be aware of the game by 2027.

“Most people think everything I do is football. But this is netball and I’m the one responsible for training PE teachers so that they can train their students on netball. We have a project 2027 and the idea is to train at least 1,200 PE teachers as well as get one million school girls to be aware of netball within the Niger Delta and the rest of Nigeria.

“This is a game primarily for girls and so we use sports as a tool to improve literacy and empower the girl child. That’s what we are doing and today we are in Calabar, Cross River State. It’s a two-day workshop. We have about 38 participants who came here from the schools and we have three from the UNHCR camps in Ogoja. We have done cricket there so we invited them at our own cost so that they can train and also improve on the system there.

“Basically that’s what we’re doing now. The project is going well. As I’m talking to you, we’ve gone to Bayelsa, Enugu, Delta, Edo, Ondo, Taraba, and Akwa Ibom state. So this is the 8th state so far. We are hoping that the people will be enthusiastic and learn about it. It’s not going to be a waste because when you empower the girl child you touch a family. When you hear about netball, there’s a World Cup netball – there’s Olympic netball and there’s Commonwealth netball. The World Cup netball is coming up this year in South Africa, and it’s about 20 days or less to go.

“We have girls from Lesotho, Malawi, Botswana, Ethiopia, South Africa and some of these tiny countries compared to Nigeria in population – they are earning money. They have scholarships to New Zealand, Australia, USA, and Wales. In the United Kingdom as a whole, they are playing for national teams and getting money that their foreign exchange is going back to their country and they are empowering their families. There’s no Nigerian girl in netball. We are reviving netball so that we can give our girls a base.

“There’s so much football but I’m not running against football because that’s my primary constituency. We are moving girls to give them insight and education so that they can be empowered,” Fuludu said.

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The CSED National Coordinator said their training has improved a lot of girls in their various schools which have included netball in their sporting activities. He noted that Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are not left out while many girls are already enjoying scholarships.

According to him, “That is the reason we are moving along the states. Apart from just playing it, in Bayelsa the girls in Pet Montessori Secondary School are doing very well now in netball. They’ve been champions because for two seasons now they have been playing. They are playing competition among themselves. We had to introduce them to coding. They completed coding last month or so. 21 of them. We trained them. Brought the coding teachers. In other words, we are giving all these girls tools because of netball.

“In IDP camp in Benin, we have about six of these girls that are on scholarship through our foundation. They play netball and because of that, we had empathy to say okay these are orphans and people who are less privileged. We try to support them in their education. They are in the universities now and they are doing well.”

Fuludu also talked about the future and sustainability of netball in Nigeria. He said “For sustainability, we have done the trials in the last? National Sports Festival in Asaba. So states are picking it. When they do the next one it will now become a medal event. And when it becomes a medal event it will be in the festival. And most states would want to earn medals from it. I’m from Delta State. I’m hoping that Delta will become one of the best. Although they are not too enthusiastic now. Too much politics in sports. But we are going to move them forward.

“We will sustain it by the grace of God. We have Lord’s Taverners, that’s an organisation in the UK – they help us with kits, not cash. You see the tops these women are wearing now, they gave them to us. In Edo, they gave to us, even in Ondo. They give us kits, cricket and netball. Sometimes share materials that we give to schools to educate them. It’s sustainable by God’s grace.”

He said, “Netball was in this country in the 70s and it fizzled out. Luckily we saw one of the octogenarians now who played and coached netball. She’s in Lagos and the children are running a foundation. They want to partner with us. When they saw that netball was coming back, the woman was excited. She wrote a book and netball is inside that book. We have some old people who played it in the 70s and they are saying – wow! Netball again? This is good. The girl child will be empowered. When we do this one netball is being revived. I told you that there’s a netball World Cup. People are enthusiastic.”

He urged governments at various levels to embrace netball as it improves health which will in turn improve productivity.

“You know when government policies are not towards sustainable sports development, there are issues. I am biased to football but because of football I also saw a lot of things happening that other sports can’t grow. It’s just that a lot of government people who are politicians see sports as mere entertainment. They don’t see the value of the business angle to it. They don’t see the value of the development of individuals to it.

“When you train more people into good health condition, there’s a reduction in healthcare problems. They don’t see the bigger picture. But we must go to government. We must go to individuals, like MTN and try to meet some of these people. But first, they must see what you are doing. If what you are doing is getting acknowledged they will want to key into it. That’s the level we want to work to. When we get to that level where there are championships going on, and then they will key in.

“There are people who are also interested as we are doing this thing, and would want to come in, but they want to see what we are doing. The government would not just throw their money if the person is not really interested. Tomorrow I may become somebody in government and that could give a boost to it because I am also into politics. If the Delta state government gives me a position in the sports commission I know that there is a platform for me to explore and exploit. God will make a way for us,” Fuludu said.

Fuludu noted further that they will be monitoring and evaluating to ensure the trained teachers use the kits to establish netball in their schools. He also said they will introduced to free virtual training as well.

“We’ve mandated them (teachers) to go to their schools and introduce it to their principals which will give them the opportunity to create a space for training. When the teachers see what you are doing, some of them may join and it will improve. We will keep monitoring them. We create WhatsApp groups and introduce a link for safeguarding. They will do it for free. The only thing you spend is a bit of your data. You will get certified. The more they see things like this, the more they become enthusiastic, and we will support them – sometimes with funds to get them going with these trainings.

“We’ve done it in Enugu. We’ve done it in Delta. But you know in all these states, there are people who are really weaklings because they are not inclined to sports. They just needed the job to keep going. With time we will begin to sieve the weeds from the chaffs,” he maintained.

CSED trains netball coaches in 38 schools, refugee camps in Cross River
One of the beneficiaries, Mr Thomas Idrah, Vice Principal of Government Secondary School, Akansoko in Akpabuyo Local Government, with the netball kits distributed by CSED

One of the beneficiaries, Mr Thomas Idrah, Vice Principal of Government Secondary School, Akansoko in Akpabuyo Local Government promised to take the game back to his school and establish netball there.

Idrah who is a game master, said “It’s unfortunate that Physical and Health Education teachers are scarce. You can’t find them in all the schools. Some of the schools that don’t have professionals have decided to convert most of the teachers that have interest in sports and they may not be professional enough to oversee sports activities in the school. Some few schools still have professionals that’s why some of us who are Vice Principals now, we still coordinate sports activities in our various schools.”

He added “Training like this will help us improve. Personally, I have a very serious interest. I am hearing about this game for the first time, even as a professional. In physical and health education, we classify all games that have to do with the net, like volleyball, lawn tennis, and table tennis. Initially, when I heard netball, I thought it was one of those games, but surprisingly I came and met a different thing. The training is quite interesting. I will do everything possible to see that I establish it in my school.”

Idrah further thanked CSED for the opportunity.

CONVERSEER reports that the exercise was in collaboration with the Cross River State Government and Lord’s Taverners, a United Kingdom-based NGO.

See photos below…

CSED trains netball coaches in 38 schools, refugee camps in Cross River

CSED trains netball coaches in 38 schools, refugee camps in Cross River

CSED trains netball coaches in 38 schools, refugee camps in Cross River

CSED trains netball coaches in 38 schools, refugee camps in Cross River

CSED trains netball coaches in 38 schools, refugee camps in Cross River

CSED trains netball coaches in 38 schools, refugee camps in Cross River

Frank Ulom
Frank Ulom
Frank Ulom is an experienced Journalist, Blogger and Writer with several years of experience. His stories are based on community development and have brought positive change across board.

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