Kano Pillars Handball Club on Tuesday emerged winners of the 1st Samuel Ortom National Handball Open Championship, which held in Makurdi.
The tournament began on 19 March.
Pillars’ male team thrashed the hard fighting Niger United Handball Club of Minna, 28-23, to become the tournament champions.
Kano pillars had fought their way to the top by defeating Safety Defenders 28-24, at the semifinals, to qualify for the finals, which they eventually won.
The Kano side came from behind to win the match, which was dominated by the Minna boys, who won the tournament few years ago. They will now represent the country at the continental championships in Morocco, later in the year.
The match was watched by dignitaries that included the representative of the Minister of Sports, Mrs. Toyin Aluko, and Gov. Samuel Ortom, who was represented by the Commissioner for Sports, Mr Lawrence Onoja.
Speaking to NAN after the match, Pillars’ Coach, Solomon Yola, commended the team for its discipline and technical display throughout the tournament.
“They are a good side and we are grateful to God for the victory; our opponents were equally very good but I think, today was our day. We are grateful to Kano government for its support.”
Also reacting to the performance of his team, the Assistant coach of Niger United, Ladan Audu, said he would go back to the drawing board to strategise ahead of the next tournament.
Ladan, however, appealed to the Benue government to modernise the handball pitches, in line with international standards.
“Modern handball is played on synthetic turfs to avoid injuries. Benue should try to have such pitches as soon as possible,” he said.
Aminu Adamu of Kano Pillars emerged the overall highest goal scorer of the tournament with 39 goals, while the overall best goalkeeper award went to Emmanuela Ani of the Benue Queens.
The Most Valuable Player Award went to Faith Inegbedion, of Edo Dynamos.
In a short speech, Ortom said that he was impressed with the standard of play and promised to sponsor the next edition of the tournament.
Also in an interview, the President of the Handball Federation, Mr Yusuf Dauda, said that both the quality of play and officiating at the tournament showed the growth of the sport in the country.
He said that the investment of the state government in the tournament was not a wasted effort as it had yielded dividends in the high quality of matches.