Netball has been recognised as making a ‘significant contribution to peace and the promotion of sport in Africa’ at the annual Africa International Sports Convention (CISA) JAPPO Awards, held in Bamako, Mali on the 1-3 March. The awards ceremony spotlights sportspeople and institutions considered to have made a tangible contribution to African sport.
The International Federation of Netball Associations was singled out by CISA because of a new project, “Netball for Peace”, introducing netball in Burundi in conjunction with ‘Peace and Sport’. CISA Chief Executive Officer Diamil Faye said of the scheme: “We went into the programme that you initiated in Burundi and appreciated the contents and the philosophy. We believe that sport can achieve many victories through initiatives like that one.”
The award, in the Sport Humanitarian Actions category, was collected by Joan Smit, IFNA's Regional Development Manager for Africa. IFNA’s work in Burundi has included training army officers as coaches and umpires, and rolling out netball sessions for girls normally unable to engage in sport, because they are looking after younger siblings while their parents work. Delighted, Joan Smit said of the award: “This shows that others recognise what we have long known – that netball has the power to change women’s and girl’s lives. We are going from strength to strength in Africa, as we have moved beyond our traditional English-speaking countries into new areas where netball is completely unknown. Netball can give a huge amount to Africa, but Africa is already giving a lot back in return, with amazing enthusiasm and natural talent.”
And here is a lovely picture of Joan picking up the Award