Nigeria will no longer participate in the 16th African Youth Handball Men’s Championship as the competition has been cancelled by the Confederation of Africa Handball (CAHB) due to Covid-19 restrictions.
The championship, which was to hold from the 16th to 21st of March 2021 in Agadir, Morocco, was cancelled alongside the 27th Africa Junior Handball Men Championship according to the continent’s handball governing body’s secretary general Charles Omboumahou who informed Presidents of National handball federations of the development in a letter.
The reason for the cancellation is because the council of the International Handball Federation (IHF), in a virtual meeting last Friday elected to cancel IHF Men’s Junior (U21) World Championship which was to hold in Hungary from the 22nd of June – 4th of July 2021 and IHF Men’s Youth (U19) World Championship which was to hold in August 2021 in Greece because of Covid 19 restrictions imposed by some countries.
According to the world governing body, “restrictive measures imposed by countries, preventing teams from preparing for the events as planned, as well as travel restrictions in place resulting in difficulties in travelling to events” necessitated the decision to outrightly cancel some key events.
And this development ensured that CAHB took the hard decision to cancel the two qualifying continental championships, Mr. Omboumahou revealed while also apologising for every inconvenience caused by the development.
The National Under 18 Male Handball team had been in intensive training at the Aguiyi Ironsi Cantonment in Abuja ahead of the competition which also doubled as qualifiers for the World Championship.
The National Cadet team came third at the previous Africa Youth Championship held in Marrakech, Morocco and subsequently secured a ticket to the World Championship held in Macedonia in 2019 where they were one of the best performing teams.
Meanwhile, President of the Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN) Mr. Samuel Ocheho has described the new development as disappointing to the players who were yearning to be good representatives of their Fatherland in the Championship.
He, however, promised that the federation will ensure they engage the boys in training camps in preparation for future competitions.