Handing it to handball
Harare – Handball is a dynamic, popular and exciting sport that requires athleticism, strength and stamina, great fitness and – most of all – teamwork.
It is the fastest indoor sport after ice hockey, and it is also a sport where players are encouraged to be flamboyant and inventive.
The game of handball is an inexpensive activity that can easily be incorporated into any sporting programme; it is easily modified to fit space, time and number of participants and it can be played by both sexes and people of all sizes and ages.
Moreover, handball is suitable for both beginners and experienced players. Players can also play in either men’s, women’s or mixed divisions.
Accordingly, African governments should embark on talent identification programmes to promote the game of handball and at the same time empower the youth.
More so, leaders in Africa should work with handball federations in their respective countries in training of coaches and helping them on how to identify potential talents from the grassroots level.
This also means handball federations should reach coaches in different areas and/or parts of the continent give them basic education.
The development of the game should also go hand in hand with the availability of infrastructure to achieve continuous development. Training conditions will have a big influence in the development of the players.
Therefore, African governments should embark on an infrastructure development exercise and at the same time have regular competitions for different age groups.
Sadly, most handball federations in different Africa are handicapped by a lack of financial and state support.
To alleviate this problem, handball federations should be equipped with permanent staff in order to be better able to carry out the various activities in the development of this sport. Qualified administrators, coaches and referees are needed such that this development can be realised within the shortest possible time.
This also means that the African Handball Confederation should train sports journalists on how to cover handball.
Moreover, the African Handball Confederation should prepare suitable training materials and organise training courses for referees and national coaches in Africa to improve the standard of handball.
Like any other sporting code in the continent, lack of sponsorship is killing handball. Without proper funding, the game of handball cannot develop to its full potential.
The president of the Handball Federation of Nigeria, Yusuf Dauda, blames the low standard of the sport in Africa on lack of sponsors for the federations’ programmes and inadequate funding from governments.
“There is the need to make the sports attractive to corporate bodies by holding competitions and exposing the young players to international tourneys,” Dauda remarks.
Accordingly, efforts to revive the sport should be geared towards youth development programmes and to effectively empower them, teams should extent their scouting yardstick to rural areas because talent is not only in towns and cities.
Furthermore, handball teams should nurture raw talent that is potentially abundant in areas where the game remains unknown. This means handball federations across African countries should fund initiatives that enhance talent identification and groom raw talent for national handball teams.
To bring sponsors, Dauda believe that “it is important to build the game so that we will have a good brand to present to sponsors”.
African governments, through responsible line ministries, should give attention to this sporting code instead of only thinking of soccer.
They should take handball seriously by investing in its growth and success; and they should not treat it as an inferior code that features as an afterthought.
Private organisations in African countries should support and sustain the sport by providing sponsorship wherever possible.