New Community Squash Initiative Supporting Local Children in Eket, Nigeria

Juniors at Jacob Esuene Squash Club
Jacob Esuene Squash Academics and Wellness (JESAW) is an initiative created by the non-profit Jacob Esuene Sports Club (JESC). Providing an environment for local children in Nigeria to thrive and grow through participation in squash, academic support and food provision.

JESAW are on a mission to introduce squash to the local children of Eket, Nigeria. The members of JESC identified that local children were lacking a basic education and opportunities to be active in a safe and enjoyable environment. Coaches at the club deliver sessions on court and fitness circuits outdoors, while members of the club coming from various professional backgrounds mentor the juniors through education and personal development.

Juniors at Jacob Esuene Squash facility

the facility was built initially for the local community on a membership basis in 2018. One day, member volunteers looking after the club saw a group of children had wandered into the facility and were playing around on the court. In most membership facilities this is where the children are escorted out but for the members of JESC, they decided to put rackets in their hands. JESC didn’t have any junior programmes running at their club at the time, though they noticed the children kept coming back, and with more of their friends.

This process quickly escalated, the club observed that the children coming to the facility were from communities that were challenged in supporting their opportunities to be active, for a consistent structured education and a balanced diet. The children’s time at the facility quickly evolved into the JESAW programme. Check out who they are and their work with local children in their video below:

Currently, JESC unfortunately only has one court that the juniors use as and when they can, doing adapted mini games, occasional full court routines and making use of outside walls of the building to practice against. Though they have intentions to soon build an additional court to accommodate for the demand.

JESAW’s goals are to ensure every participant:
• Graduates high-school and has a post-secondary education
• Has access to bursary/scholarship opportunities
• Has a chance to compete in squash and attain national rankings
• Receives a minimum of 100 hours of squash and fitness per year
• Develops a stable habit of healthy living and wellness
• Possesses good virtues and morals
• Develops a deep-sense of self-confidence, integrity and personal development.

Through their academic support, they have been able to enrol over 10 of their participating children into schools from their local community. Of these children they have so far a 100% pass rate. One of their students received a scholarship through the JESAW programme to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Uyo, Nigeria.

Members of the club have also supported their students with the resources to pick up skills in photography, fashion designing, shoe making and more. Success in squash can be seen already with some children competing at national level and one student currently the National U-13 third seed and South-South champion.

Jacob Esuene Squash, Academics and Wellness is still a very youthful programme that is growing fast and has been met with a clear demand from local children. The activities have evolved organically in response to local demand which has meant the programme has been effective in fulfilling the needs of the local community. Their achievements have been great so far with very limited resources and with some extra support there is significant potential.

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You can check out similar programmes from around the world that we support here.