Recently crowned champions of the U18 and U20 National Handball Championship will represent Nigeria at either the Partille Cup Championship in Sweden or the Granollers Cup in Spain according to the President of the Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN) Sam Ocheho.
Speaking about what comes after the Championships which held from Sunday 17th March to Saturday, 23rd March at the Rowe Sports Complex, Yaba, Ocheho also disclosed that players who excelled at the tournament will form the core of the next set of U18 and U21 national teams.
Mind Scope Academy and Kogi Handball Team emerged winners in the U18 category for female and male respectively while Kwara and Lagos were crowned champions in the U21 category for female and male respectively.
“The best teams will represent Nigeria at some international championships,” Ocheho said, “[it will be] either the Partille Cup or the Granollers Cup [but] they will surely represent Nigeria at one of them. And this [championship] is also an opportunity for us to pick the next set of U18 and U21 national team that will be taking over from the current ones.”
The Partille Cup is billed as the world’s largest annual handball tournament in terms of numbers or participants and is held in July in Gothenburg while the Granollers Cup is one of Europe’s largest tournaments for young handball players held in the city of Granollers every June with over five thousand players and 350 teams taking part. Both tournaments are organised for players aged between ten and twenty-one.
In addition to representing Nigeria in international competitions and at age-grade level, Ocheho also said some of the players unearthed at the tournament could find their way into the new senior national team that will compete at the All Africa Games in Morocco later in the year. The HFN had previously disbanded the senior male national team in 2018 in order to “instill discipline”.
“We are looking at overhauling the average age of the team, looking at making it a younger team,” Ocheho told busybuddiesng.com.
“If you remember we had disbanded the senior national team so at the All Africa Games this year it is going to be made up of a lot of the U20 team and some of the younger players that were from the previous senior national team and we are glad at what we are seeing here [at the championship], it shows the pipeline is very rich and the pipeline will surely produce senior national players.”
The President of the HFN also revealed that the federation has a host of activities lined up for the rest of the year.
“[There are] so many championships lined up, Ocheho revealed.
“The U18 and U20 national teams will be going to Kosovo [for the Intercontinental stage of the IHF trophy in April], they are resuming camping here in Lagos tomorrow, after that is the All African Games qualifier [in April] then the League.
“In June, we are going to Georgia for the [International Handball Federation] IHF emerging nations tournament, in July is the World Cup for U20, in August is the [Men’s Youth World Championship in Macedonia] World Cup for the U18, [in] September there is the Nations Cup for female, so there are a host of teams lined up,” Ocheho said.