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8-Year-old Relishes First Earning from Handball

Eight-year-old Aondona Comfort Msurshima
Eight-year-old Aondona Comfort Msurshima

August 29, (THEWILL) – Eight-year-old Aondona Comfort Msurshima is relatively new to handball, barely ten months old in the game of handball, but, thanks to her daring saves, she was the cynosure of all eyes at the just concluded National U-12, U-15 boys and girls handball championship held in Sokoto.

Not until she appeared on the podium, with her braided hair style, to receive the U-12 girls first runners-up trophy on behalf of her team at the closing ceremony of the weeklong age grade handball fiesta, in which 25 teams participated, that doubts on her gender was put to rest.

A cross section of spectators, who followed her outstanding performances that finally earned her team, Gboko Dream Girls, the U-12 girls category second position at the championship mistook her for a male because of her athletic, tom- boyish look throughout the competition.

Asked how and why she chose handball, Aondona, currently a primary three pupil of Hope Academy, Jato Aka in Benue State, attributed her journey into the game to fate. According to her, she had naively set out to exercise the youthful energy in her when, incidentally, her gender threw her into the handball court.

“Like every bubbling and energetic child, my desire was to explore alongside my mates on the playground until fate caught up with me and other girls when the boys started discriminating against us by not allowing us to play football. They would tell us to go and play handball, which they assumed to be a sport for the girl-child. Incidentally, there is a handball court close to my school. We maximised the proximity of the handball court and here we are today, some of us taking part in a competition we were pushed into barely 10 months ago.

“This is how destiny entrusted us into the waiting hands of Coach Godwin Tondo, who bought for me my first kits when he saw my seriousness and the determination of other girls in the game. Within a short while, handball fetched me my first earning of N1,000 during the All Primary Schools Game held in Kwande Local Government Area in November 2020.

“Now that handball had given me my first earning, my first trip outside Benue State and through many states, trophy and medal, including publicity and exposure, I can confidently say there is no going back on handball. I intend to pursue a career in handball alongside my education. I wish to play at the international level, representing Nigeria. I want to explore handball as a means of alternative livelihood to at least, assist my family.

“I recall how my mother, a farmer who is solely responsible for the upkeep of my siblings and I (I am the third child), showered me with prayers when I handed the N1,000 I earned to her,” she said.

The youthful shot-stopper looked downcast when she was asked about her father. It took her a while to gather enough strength after fighting back tears to respond, “He died five years ago when some herdsmen invaded our village in Jato Aka.”

In an emotion-laden tone, Aondona recalled how her father, who was a farmer, struggled to cater to the needs of his family with earnings from his farm produce. Unfortunately, he took ill and died due to his inability to access healthcare. But for insecurity, he would have been able to receive treatment. She described his death as painful.

“My father died of sickness five years ago, as he could not access medicare at the health facility due to insecurity caused by herdsmen invasion of our village, where health workers who survived the onslaught deserted the health facility in the village,” she said.