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Tare Pet Montessori Group of Schools have retained their number one spot in secondary school netball in Bayelsa State. Tarepet Angles defeated Dynamite Divas 11-5, in a keenly contested final match that rounded up the events of the IDSDP (International Day of Sport for Development and Peace), “Third Bayelsa Netball Challenge” that was held at the Samson Siasia Sports Stadium, Yenagoa.

Ten secondary schools and two netball clubs (Dynamite Divas and Platinum Angels) participated in the two-day energy sapping event that involved a total of twenty matches. The twelve participating team were divided into four groups, from where successful team moved to the quarter-finals, semi-finals, and the final match. The matches were played at the indoor court and a newly marked outdoor netball court of the Samson Siasia Sports Stadium.

The third place match was contested by Platinum Angels Club and New Total Child School, which was won by the latter. Unlike last year’s competition, the number of participating teams was severely affected by the fact that this year’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace (IDSDP) which is celebrated on 6 April, happened in the middle of the second term school holiday.

Furthermore, the final match that was supposed to happen on 6 April 2024, had to be held a day earlier, due to the fact that Local Government elections in Bayelsa State of Nigeria were held on 6th April, 2024, and there was a restriction of the movement of members of the public on election day. The setback notwithstanding, the netballers enjoyed themselves, especially when their parents were cheering them on from the terraces.

The tournament was preceded by a technical meeting that was convened by the Bayelsa State Netball Association for all the 40 netball registered schools/teams in the state, the officiating umpires and the organizers of the Bayelsa Netball Challenge. Issues that were discussed at the technical meeting include safeguarding, how to use netball in actualizing SDG Number 5 (gender equality and empowering all girls and women), as well as the importance of umpires in ensuring hitch-free netball matches.

The technical meeting also involved other activities including practical netball case scenarios, the marking of the netball courts and an interactive session on the topic: “what can be done to further develop the game of netball in Bayelsa State” Dignitaries that graced the opening ceremony includes some of the parents of the netballers, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Mrs Grace Alagoa, Sir Braveman Wodi (the Director of Sports, Bayelsa State Sports Council), the Personal Assistant to the Director of Sports, BYSSC, Mr Nana Michael, Mrs. Hannah (Deputy Director Sports Academy Asoama), the patroness of Dynamite Divas Club and Platinum Angels Club, Mrs. Egona Godwin, as well as other Head of Departments of BYSSC, attended the tournament.

The tournament was powered by CSED Initiative and UK based sport charity, Lord’s Taverners. Bayelsa State is currently the number 1, netball playing state in Nigeria, and the goal of the Bayelsa State Sports Council and the Bayelsa State Ministry of Education, is to gradually grow well balanced and healthy students who will grow to love the game, as a life time sport, and not just for the purpose of harvesting medals at future National Sports Festivals.

It would be recalled that less than a month ago, the “Sporting Coders” pilot programme was successful completed at Tare Pet School. This pilot programme which involved 21 netballers of Tare Pet School is the first of its kind in Nigeria, that used access to sport (i.e. netball) to try to address the underrepresentation of girls/women in STEM careers.

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