The coaching also extended to several schools, where the British visitors were excited by the raw talent and enthusiasm shown by the girls, who train on a crowded court surrounded by several hundred other students looking on. Denise May was impressed by the Ethiopians’ commitment to netball and said: “The coaches were very positive and proactive, working hard throughout the three days, showing a real passion, enthusiasm and understanding for the game, including coaching skills and officiating. They looked in detail at the various progressive stages of session planning; how to break down individual skills and transfer these into game situations. Officiating was a valuable and essential part of the training and the coaches were keen to understand the intricacies of scoring and the speed required to keep up with play.”
The event received a lot of publicity, and government officials attending the closing ceremony were extremely impressed by the positive effect netball is having on young women. The link between netballers in Britain’s south-west and Ethiopia started with a Youth Sport Trust Dreams and Teams initiative in 2007, which linked Budehaven Community School with Assossa High School. From this modest start, netball is now becoming established in Ethiopia as a national sport, as Denise May explains:
“Netball was introduced as a new sport which would have particular impact on the young women of the town, being a focus to enrich their challenging lives. There were two facets: one was enhancing literacy skills, developing cultural and global learning, staff development and whole school impact; the second was enhancing leadership skills, impacting on community cohesion and creating new opportunities for females in a deprived country. With our backing, the then PE teacher at Assossa High School, Mr Mulatu Desalegn Afrasha, made it his vocation to develop the game in the town, with his long-term goal being to see netball played as a National sport in Ethiopia.”
Support from St Austell Netball Club and South West Netball in the UK brought additional resources, in the form of netballs, playing kit, bibs and DVDs, which enabled Mulatu to start to develop the game further, and he also had an opportunity to spend time in the UK to access high quality netball coach training. He then took on a new role, working for the Zone Federation of Sport, with responsibility for sports development in his region, and he has already introduced to 15 schools.
More exciting news is that the new sports stadium in Addis Ababa, built for Ethiopia’s national athletes and local clubs and players from the regions, will have a netball court marked on the floor – and one of the female coaches trained in Assossa last year has been employed to oversee the development of netball at the centre. With enthusiastic and imaginative support from netballers in the UK, the sport is really taking hold in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is now working to train a representative side to experience playing netball in England, and the long-term goal is to further develop the Ethiopian Netball Association and build up a national team.
Can you help?
If anyone is interested in financially supporting this exciting development in sport, please contact Denise May at firstname.lastname@example.org . There will be more on this story in the next issue of Netball World magazine.