By Victor Okoye
Mohammed Maigidansanma, Secretary-General, Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN), on Friday said that the federation would hold an inter-school handball tournament as part of its plan to take the sport to the grassroots.
Maigidansanma told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the sport’s federation had decided to go back to the schools, to discover young talents at the grassroots.
“When we went for the Confédération Africaine de Handball (CAHB) Congress in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in October 2018, the issue of grassroots development was top on the agenda, among other concerns.
“After the Congress, we were promised equipment as well as 200 balls, to encourage handball in our schools.
“The HFN President, Samuel Ocheho, in his wisdom, decided that 150 balls would be distributed to the various schools in the country, while 50 balls would go specifically to the development of the females.
“So, that tells you the level at which the current board takes the issue of grassroots development very seriously,” he said.
He said that the federation would embark on the selection of players through inter-school tournaments in the various zones in Nigeria.
“We are going to organise inter-school handball tournaments, after which players would be selected from across the six geopolitical zones in the country.
“Our zonal representatives will be in charge of selecting players from the various schools in the zones, who will take part in the junior championship.
“In addition, we have now thrown open our junior championship this year to include both academies and the local governments, to ensure that there is an inclusiveness at the grassroots.
“This is contrary to the situation we had before, where the various local governments usually select a ready made team exclusively, to represent their various states.
“We have now decided to invite the various academies in the country to be part of the junior championship this year,” he said.
Ocheno noted that the federation was doing a lot in terms of youth development of the sport, adding that it had recorded giant strides at the U-12 and U-15 levels.
“The national U-12 and U-15 tournaments, which we organised in Lagos in March/April last year, witnessed a higher number of participating teams from across the states of the federation.
“Selected players from the tournament went into a month and two weeks’ camping in Kaduna, in preparation for the International Handball Federation (IHF) Challenge Trophy in Niger Republic.
“At the end of the camp, we went to Naimey where our two teams conquered. They won the gold ahead of other teams that participated in the West African sub- region.
“The victory also ensured that they qualified for the IHF Continental Championships in Kigali, in which our teams also emerged victorious in both categories.
“Indeed, their performance in Naimey also ensured that our cadets qualified for the Africa Youth Games, where they also performed creditably well winning a bronze medal,” he said.
NAN reports that the Nigeria male handball team will battle for honour at the World Junior Championship, which comes up in Spain in July.