Netball, A New Route To Keep Rural Women Healthy

Women in rural communities' lack of access to health care facilities has encouraged them to form health programs such as Netball. Image by Sportsmatik

Compared to women in urban areas, women in rural communities have less access to health care and healthy food, a situation which has motivated them to come up with community health programs like netball.

BY MELODY MPANDE | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | MAR 24, 2023

ESIGODINI (The Citizen Bulletin) — As she walked up a mini hill for a prayer meeting, Sibonile Dube figured something was different when she began to feel dizzy.

Those days, even her most cherished activities – fetching firewood and water – seemed more laborious for her.

It is a situation that bothered her until she visited a nearby health facility – Esigodini clinic, where she was diagnosed with hypertension.

Having been diagnosed with the chronic disease, Dube says she knew she had to change her lifestyle to prolong her life.

She chose sports, in particular, NetBall, to stay active.

Being a part of a netball team has not only helped Dube to lower her blood pressure, but also to lose weight and stay healthy.

“Staying active and healthy eating patterns has seen me lose fat and lowered my blood pressure levels,” Dube says.

A 2022 report by Women Sports Foundation says girls and women who play sports have a more positive body image and experience higher states of psychological well-being than girls and women who do not play sports.

Previously diagnosed as overweight, the 40-year-old Dube took part in 6 months of twice-a-week physical training and has lost nearly 10 kgs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that being physically active can improve your brain health, help manage weight, reduce the risk of disease, strengthen bones and muscles, and improve your ability to do everyday activities.

Adults who sit less and do any amount of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity gain some health benefits, reads the report.

Medical reports encourage patients on chronic medication to stay active and eat healthy. Image by Health Central

In Esigodini, a number of women have come together to form community health programs that include Netball, exercise classes and hands-on nutrition education.

“The programs also include social activities, such as community walks in the fight against a less-healthy lifestyle,” says Dube.

“I am one of the first 17 women to take part in the program and I am glad that I'm noticing impressive changes on my body.”

Another villager, Amanda Jackson, says engaging in sporting activities has lowered her depression levels after losing her husband.

Through sports, Jackson says she hardly thinks negatively, boosting her self-esteem and confidence.

“I was in a terrible state before becoming a part of the team,” says Jackson.

“I constantly broke down and my BP levels were unspeakable. But today I'm confident, I think positive, and my levels of depression have lowered.”
Amanda Jackson, a villager

A UN report titled: Women in sport are changing the game, reveals that sports have a multiplier effect on women's health and contribute to their self-esteem, build social connections and challenge harmful gender norms.

Netball coach, Mr Clayton Ndlovu, expresses joy as he says women are improving their body strength and aerobic fitness through netball.

He says that reverting to old habits is usually a major issue.

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“But I am surprised and excited to see women maintaining or even getting better at staying active and healthy,” the coach says.

While a large share of women at Esigodini are put off by physical activities, one villager Gertrude Moyo says eating healthy foods has helped her reach and maintain a healthy weight.

“I haven’t been active for a while but a healthy diet has improved my well-being,” says Moyo.

“This is a great opportunity for other women in other villages to take part in this initiative. By doing so, they will remain healthy.”

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Netball, Public health, Access to healthcare, esigodini

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