Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) Volleyball Club player, Jummai Bitrus told www.aclsports.com that she developed interest in volleyball after been a ball girl to some of the country’s best volleyball players.
Bitrus who was adjudged the best Libero player in country at the last Nigeria Volleyball Premier League said winning the league was one of her greatest achievements in 2019.
The former Adamawa Queens player said she is optimistic that the performance of the national senior women’s team will significantly improve with time.
Aclsports: How did you start playing volleyball?
Jummai Bitrus: I started playing the game of Volleyball at a very tender age in Yola, Adamawa State. I used to be a ball girl to some of the great players in the country like Brother Jonah Adamu of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) and Brother Johnson Oloyede of Edo State, amongst others. Their encouragement went a long way to keeping my love for the game alive. I cannot thank them enough.
Aclsports: Teams you played for before joining NSCDC?
In the course of my playing career, I played for Adamawa Queens of Yola, Adamawa state for a long time before my sports father and mentor, the late Coach Ismail Chakuma, (RIP) brought me to Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) team in 2012. I was with the NIS Team for almost 7 years and my outings with the team during the period in focus further polished my game. I had several opportunities to go out and play for other teams, but I declined the offers then, because of my loyalty to Coach Ismail Chakuma.
When the time finally came for me to disengage after my stint with the NIS team, I moved to the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corp (NSCDC) Volleyball Club team in 2018 which has remained my team till date.
Aclsports: What was your experience at the 2019 African Games
In my assessment, the 2019 African Games in Morocco was a good outing. We were all determined and looked forward to returning home with at least a Bronze Medal but alas, it never happened.
Notwithstanding the disappointment of finishing outside the medal table, we still give God the glory for a hitch-free and successful outing. One may wish to recall that the Federation in its wisdom was trying to build a new team by giving younger and upcoming players the opportunity to contribute their quota to the growth of the game. With more exposure and subsequent outings, I am very optimistic that the performance of the team will significantly improve. It was a privilege being part of the team and the experience garnered in the tournament cannot be quantified.
Aclsports: What was winning the 2019 Nigeria Volleyball Premier League like?
Winning the Nigerian Volleyball Premier League was one of my greatest achievements in 2019. I was so excited and happy, not only because we won but also because we were unbeaten throughout the League. This feat could be attributed to the total the team’s commitment and sacrifices from the Organisation, the technical crew as well as the players. And as it were, God crowned our efforts with a resounding success.
Aclsports: What was your toughest match ever?
Undoubtedly and surprisingly, the toughest game of my career so far was in the Junior Category which was in Czech Republic during the Junior Women World Cup 2013. It was the game against Italy who happened to be the defending champion of the tournament. The Italians were so tactical with lots of skills and talents, that they were the most feared team of the tournament. Although we lost the game by 3 sets, we gave a good account of ourselves. The memory still lingers on till date; It was a great but tough outing for me and my teammates.
Aclsports: What is your most memorable day in your volleyball career?
My Memorable day(s) since my volleyball career was during the 2006 World Scholar Athletes Games in the United States of America. I had the opportunity to be selected as the only Nigerian female representative while Henry Iwueke (Imo State) was for the male category for the Games after a thorough screening of about 2000 players in Abuja. The World Scholar Athletes Games was for a period of about 3-4 weeks. It was full of fun and I had the opportunity to train under some of the best coaches in America and also played with different players all over the world.
Another memorable day of my career also was the day I graduated from my alma mater, University of Jos (UNIJOS). It was memorable because it was not easy combining my rigorous volleyball career with the hectic academic programmes. And to God be the glory, all is well that ended well.
Aclsports: How have you been able to adjust to the lockdown/ ban on sporting activities?
Jummai Bitrus: It has not been easy trying to keep fit during the lockdown period because of the various restrictions associated with the pandemic. However, with zeal and determination, I create time within the limited window periods for exercises as well as for my personal drills within the confines of my house. Thanks to Coach Elishama Elam of the Nigerian Army team for his guidance and support through phone calls and e-drills which helped in no small measure to making the lockdown a bit easier.