Jubril Saidu, the President of Mega Handball Veterans has urged the leadership of the Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN) to concentrate on the development of the sport at the grassroots.
Saidu, who doubles as the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Handball Association spoke to newsmen on the sidelines of a handball competition between the veterans and SWAN FCT as well as a media parley.
He noted that there was more concentration on senior-level competitions rather than grassroots and age-grade tournaments which was hampering the growth of the game in the country.
“In the HFN today, apart from the Prudent Energy tournament in the North Central, the handball family doesn’t have a major game.
“The grassroots development and youth tournaments are not as regular as they used to be while we were growing up in this game.
“We are supposed to be organizing a lot of underage and youth grade tournaments. As a matter of fact, football learned the under-age sport from handball but today we have thrown it behind us.
“Our emphasis is now on the senior level tournaments and until we are ready to concentrate on grassroots development of the sports, we are not going to make any headway.
“Also, the Ministry of Youth and Sports which is the umpire of the sporting body in this country must be willing and ready to diversify and give adequate attention to other sports other than football.
“If this is not done, no other sport, including handball can grow in this country as it is quite evident that we are backward compared to other African countries,” he said.
He also stressed that the game was also suffering from a lack of good leadership, adding that there was still the issue of disunity among stakeholders which has stunted the growth of the game.
“The game of handball has suffered a great deal in the country in the sense that there is still the lingering issue of cohesion, unity, and understanding between the stakeholders of the game.
“There is also a lopsided leadership of the game in Nigeria. A situation where you have a single decision-taker in the HFN who believes in the idea of “winner takes all” is very unfortunate.
“A single decision taker does not constitute a leadership and a society where you have no unity, there is definitely bound to be chaos,” he said.
He thanked the leadership of SWAN FCT for always doing their best to project the game of handball in the country, adding that without publicity, the sport will also not get the necessary attention it deserves.
“Kudos to the SWAN FCT team for playing out a 5-5 draw against the veterans who are retired handballers, coaches, and administrators that have been into this game for quite a long time.
“It was quite remarkable and I want to appreciate the team for putting up a good performance.
“FCT SWAN and the handball family are partners in progress and we want to appreciate you for the good job you have been doing to ensure that handball is projected in good light.
“The game of handball is not for us the veterans any longer but for the youths coming up.
“We are only there to encourage and we can use you the members of the press to pass our message across to all relevant stakeholders of the game so as to make handball a sport to be reckoned with in Nigeria,” he said.
Ndubueze Chidoka, the Chairman, of FCT SWAN on his part, thanked the handball veterans for hosting the media parley and handball competition, adding that activities such as these were necessary to expose the media more to the rules and regulations of the game.
“We are happy to have had this positive engagement with the veterans today as it has gone a long way in giving us more insight into the game.
“Activities such as this will definitely help us in our daily reportage of the game as well as enable us to keep fit and live a healthy lifestyle,” he said.