By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Ahead of the Africa Youth Games (AYG) qualifiers billed to commence on May 17, 2018, 53 volleyball players are currently in an open camp at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.
According to the Technical Director of the Nigeria Volleyball Federation (NVBF), Mr. Martins Melandie, the players which converged from all over the country, are U-17 national team hopefuls.
“This is the camp in preparation of AYG qualification from 17th May. We deemed it fit to start early preparation.
“On the 10th we would move to Abuja. We have 29 girls and 24 boys in camp,” he said.
He explained that the large number of players that turned up is encouraging because it is an opportunity to groom players for future.
“The NVBF President, Engineer Nimrod is giving us all the support. We have to go back to age competition because of dismal performance at continental last year.
He assured that with the programmes the federation is putting in place, next year will be good for the country internationally.
” We are believing by next year, Nigeria will be on top internationally, ” he assured.
He explained that they discovered a lot of potentials during the zonal leagues held last month.
On what the federation is doing to develop the players, he said that they are keeping them engaged.
“You need to give them more playing time, competitions to excel. We are hoping to get sponsors who would drive competitions,” he said.
On sponsorship drive, he said they are still putting their acts together to attract sponsors.
“We are just starting, the sponsors are waiting to see what we can do before they come in. We are packaging, doing age grade competitions and identifying talents.
“We have a sponsor, Alpha, taken care of the kitting of national team,” he said.
The Technical Director informed that the screening to select players to prune down those in camp will be done on Friday.
“We will do the screening by Friday. We would have friendly matches from where we would select 18 players each from the male and female in camp. Right now it is overloading and stress on the coaches,” he disclosed.
On how they would select players that are not more than 17 years, he explained that they would adopt the laid down guidelines.
“We have been given criteria for competition, the boys must nor be born before January 1, 2001/ For the girls, January 1, 2002,” he said.