Nigeria Customs Service player, Kelechi Obioha has explained how she broke into the national senior women’s volleyball team.
She told www.aclsports.com that she got her first invite after winning gold medal with Rivers state at the 2008 National Sports Festival in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
Obioha revealed that she did not impress during her first invite but made the team during the subsequent national call up.
The former Rivers state player said, “My journey to the national senior women’s volleyball team started at the 2008 National Sports Festival where I represented Rivers, the host state. My performance with the gold-medal-winning Rivers team earned me my first national call.
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“The defining match was the semi-finals between Rivers state and Abia state which Rivers won. I remember receiving so many encomiums and words of encouragement from coaches, fellow players and fans at the end of the match. It was after the match that I learnt that my name was penciled down for national team invitation.
“Unfortunately, I did not make the cut on my first invitation due to pressure. The national female team had another engagement same year and I was invited for the camping exercise and this time I made the cut. I have remained an integral member of the national team since then”, she added.
Obioha said, “I have represented Nigeria in quite a number of international competitions. I may not be able to give an exhaustive list but the notable ones are; the 2011 All African Games in Mozambique and 2015 All African Games in Congo. In addition, I represented Nigeria in a number of African Nations cup, African Nations cup qualifiers and other senior championships in Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya and Burkina Faso”.
The lanky player revealed that her games master, Douglas Echefu introduced her to basketball and volleyball in Secondary School.
She said, “My enthusiasm for volleyball started during my secondary school days at Owerri Girls Secondary School. My then Games Master, Mr Douglas Echefu introduced both basketball and volleyball to us. He was my first volleyball coach and it was love at “first play” for me from the first day I played volleyball. The appeal and attraction was irresistible and I have never looked back since then”.
Obioha told www.aclsports.com Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) Volleyball Club exposed her to several international championships which in turn improved her skills.
She said, “The NCS have exposed me to several national and international competitions which have helped improve my game in all departments. I cannot give the management and coaching staff of the NCS volleyball team enough thanks for providing me the platform to excel in my volleyball career. I can assure you that every Nigerian volleyball player wants to wear the colours of NCS.
“North Africa is undoubtedly the “capital” of African club volleyball and are miles ahead of us in Nigeria. The facilities and organisation is at par with what is obtainable in Europe and America. Al Ahly of Egypt and Carthage of Tunisia are ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in African club volleyball.
“I believe with the giant steps being taken by NCS and the Musa Nimrod-led Nigeria Volleyball Federation, the NCS team will soon topple Al Ahly of Egypt as the number one female volleyball club side in Africa”, Obioha told www.aclsports.com
She said losing the 2019 volleyball title to Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) was not only painful but demoralising.
“Honestly, it is an experience I never wish to face again because it was demoralising. I have no doubt in my mind that we (NCS) will bounce back this year. I strongly believe and trust that come 2020 championship; my team will reclaim the league title. Asides reclaiming the 2020 Nigeria Volleyball Premier league title, I equally aim to ensure that we finish on the podium in the next African club championship.
“Beyond that, I will keep contributing my little quota to the development of volleyball in Nigeria by being a role model to young and upcoming players”.
Prior to Nigeria Customs Service, Kelechi Obioha played for Imo state and Rivers state teams.