The Burgeoning Grassroots Volleyball Teams in the FCT -By Vincent Unogwu( Coach)

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The Burgeoning Grassroots Volleyball Teams in the FCT -By Vincent Unogwu( Coach)

 

Sport is an instrument of youth empowerment. Many young men and women find purpose in life and contribute to their community and country through sports! To some people, sport is a way of life, and to others, it defines the essence of human civilization and existence. Competition in sports tells how competitive life can be! Victory tells how possible one can succeed only after applying certain principles and attitude! Loosing also tells its story. Sport is an embodiment of the lessons of life. Resilience, determination, honour, sacrifice and courage are all sum up in the world of sport!

While sports are so popular and rake in millions of dollars in advanced countries, the story is different in Nigeria; many of our sports men and women are motivated by passion and self-fulfillment! Talk about passion one of the most passionate and most popular sports in global sphere today is football. Seldom people talk about other sports thus making football a giant in the midst of other sports.

Developing other sports is not an easy task. Either by accident or destiny, some people find themselves rooted in some sports like basketball, handball, cricket, swimming or volleyball. Though such sports may not spin wealth like football but they have their own way of creating life fulfillment especially for those who find them as a thing of passion!

It was in this light that a new wave of sporting movement is springing up in various communities around Abuja. Spearheaded by the FCT Volleyball Association, the city is now experiencing a wave of new talents and grassroots volleyball teams in many of the suburbs. One of the most outstanding of such grassroots club is the Karu Starlets Junior Volleyball Club – KSJVC – Abuja. Founded by Vincent Unogwu, a onetime player of various states teams and now a beginner coach, the club is making wave as one of the fastest growing grassroots programme in the FCT and Nigeria in general. With 43 active registered teenagers, both male and females, the KSJVC is now a household name in the circle of Nigerian volleyball and also popular with Nigeria erstwhile professionals players in the diaspora!

So far, the KSJVC draws her membership from the various secondary schools within the Karu axis. This includes schools in Karu, Nyanya, Jikwoyi and Kurudu. It also attracts kids with special potential from primary schools within the age bracket of 6-12 years.

Though seeing kids playing volleyball is a new phenomenon, yet the reality is gradually dawning on the communities that there is never a time too early to learn any sport! Thus some parents present their children directly to the coach to register them with the club, thanks to the various activities put in place by the Founder who uses creative ideas to teach the young ones volleyball alongside leadership qualities, self esteem, morals and other specific intellectual exercise like history, current affairs and civic education.

To encourage the kids in their academy pursuit, a dictionary is presented to each kid or player on his or her birthday. Some receive current affairs books, others world, Regional or National map atlas to broaden their knowledge and understanding of the outside world. The club is a melting pot of ideas, skills, talents, leadership and self empowerment.

Though faced with various challenges typical of sports in Nigeria, the Karu Starlets Junior Volleball Club enjoys support from renowned names in Nigeria volleyball! Crown Prince Babatunde Omisore, Bola AB, Adekunle Sadiq, Anthonia Akpama Oyodele, Joy Okpa, Elizabeth Abitogun, Tony Ngwube, Joshua Ochola, and Babatunde Abdulrazak, all foreign based erstwhile players and professionals donated balls and in some cases pledge support to the club. Back home, the NVBF Vice President, Prof. Ebenezer Morankiyo, Head of Technical Coach, Anthony Oghuma, FCT Volleyball Association’s Chariman, Mr. Jackson Imandi and the Chairman of the Beach Volleyball, Timothy Prolific all donated balls to support our dream.

The overwhelming support from people of goodwill was climaxed by the sole donation of a court to the club by a volleyball enthusiast, Captain Susan Okolo, who built one out of the two proposed volleyball courts. However, having a second court to make way for a separate programme for the female remains one of the greatest challenges, as the number of participants overwhelmed the single court for effective drills and playing time.

The junior club has gone for various outing within the FCT and was regular in visiting the national teams both male and female whenever they are in camp to witness them train.

One of the cardinal objectives of starting this program is to build the reputation of volleyball in Nigeria and to introduce the game to young talents, for them to develop with it, blending it into their natural skills.

Abuja, the nation’s capital has nearly 20 volleyball clubs in existence in the various communities. The popular among them are Defence Spikers, NY Spikers, Karu United, Royal Spikers, Phoenix Spikers, Scopion Spikers, Cocin Spikers, Bwari Spikers, Gwagwalada Nets, Sulieja Spikers, Lifecamp, Kuchigoro Spikers, Kuje Spikers, Graceland, St Mary’s, State House and Kubwa Stars. The city is also home to various Para-military volleyball teams such as that of the NSCDC, Immigration and Customs.

One cannot end this journey of words and reason without bringing to bare the various challenges confronting the grassroots program in particular and volleyball in general. One of the most pressing issues is the unavailability of a cemented court. Though with a very low budget one can construct such monument yet most teams including KSJVC (due to our numbers) use to augment and improvise with ground court, a development that is far from the modern age and time! The absence of engaging competitions, especially for the junior category, the non-existence of corporate sponsors, training kits and foot wears for the kids are deprecating challenges pulling back the club.

Despite these challenges, the passion and spirit of the game can never wither nor waver, as the hope of a better future seems more glorious than the pains of the present times. All for volley, volley for all.

 

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