Nigerian handball is gradually collapsing, stakeholders sound the alarm

Key stakeholders have sounded the alarm over administrative and technical misconduct which they say could lead to the total collapse of handball in Nigeria.

Speaking on their behalf, Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN) Board Member Alhaji Saidu Jibril Ojih called on the Ministry of Youth and Sports to urgently save handball in time.

Ojih during a press briefing, in Abuja, particularly disapproved of the organization of the second phase of the Prudent Energy Handball Premier League 2022 in Lagos, where he said that two ineligible players had been allowed to participate.

He said such action violated the rules and regulations of section 3d of the tournament rules and regulations.

According to him, “As soon as you don’t have leadership and refereeing, you cannot be successful in the technical aspects of the game. Administration is a criterion for you to coordinate, direct and ensure the compliance with the established standard. As soon as there is deviation, there is failure because you cannot do things right.

“The team – club coaches, players and key players in the game have all come together and agreed that the rules should be binding on everyone who participates in the second phase of the Prudent Energy Handball League, comprising around 12 women’s teams and 11 men’s teams.

“It’s unfortunate when a player from Kano Pillars and Lagos Seasider with jersey number 50 played for Kano and jersey number 41 played for a Benin Republic handball club. That same player played for a championship of handball in Niger.

“Our rule in section 3d states that no player, national or international, should register with two clubs. The rule is self-explanatory, without any charge. Unfortunately for Kano and Lagos Seasider, two of their players went to participate in the African Club Championship in Tunisia which took place a few months ago. Only for them to come back saying they want to participate in our league. They are not eligible to participate in the tournament.

“Our protest was passed on to the officials, only for the officials to come out and say that our evidence is not sufficient, without giving us the opportunity to present it for a fair hearing…”

Ojih, who is the general secretary of the Commonwealth Handball Association, blamed the leadership of the current Handball Council for the low profile in this year’s league competition.

“It’s bad and unfortunate that we talk about the presidency and the leaders of our country but at our minimal level we destroy things. Sport is a friendly affair, it’s an interesting matter and people are happy to be part of it, but once we make a discouraging decision among the participating teams and the players we try to encourage, we destroy the game.

“Giving frivolous and one-sided judgments without a fair hearing destroys the good intentions of sport. It is in light of this that I want to inform Nigerians that handball is being killed by the so-called people we call the presidents of the federations The minister, permanent secretary may not know what is going on in the sports federation.

“People take their personal aggrandizement from sports. We got sponsorship – Prudent Energy. As I speak to you, I cannot tell you categorically how much the federation is getting from this sponsorship. We are only told what they want us to know. By right, all transactions of the federation must be paid into the personal account of the federation.

“It is so sad that a group of people have refused to obey the laws which are enshrined in ensuring the success of handball in Nigeria. We want everyone to know that things are not being done properly. Handball in Nigeria is now run from the blankets of the chambers rather than the code of governance enshrined by the Federal Ministry of Youth Sports Development and this could result in teams dragging their case to where they believe justice will be served,” a- he declared.

The handball players have also made available copies of the protest letters and other supporting documents submitted to the HFN technical committee, with copies to the persons and bodies concerned.

However, HFN management has yet to react to the latest developments at the time of writing.