By Cosmos Chukwuemeka Akisi
Benin City will be the new home of the National Division One Handball League after the Edo State government agreed to sponsor and host the competition for the next four years
This was revealed by the Deputy Governor of Edo State Comrade Philip Shaibu when he received the Chairman Caretaker Committee of the Handball Federation of Nigeria Mr. Samuel Ocheho and other stakeholders which includes members of the Edo State Handball Association in his office on Wednesday in Benin City.
Deputy Governor Shaibu also revealed that the state government saw the need to join hands with the handball stakeholders to develop the game and that formed the decision to sponsor the Division One League.
While commending the HFN for getting private Prudent Energy to sponsor the National Handball Premier League and the Sokoto State Government for bankrolling the National Under 12/15 Handball championship, the deputy state governor clamoured for state handball leagues so that team can qualify for the Division One League therefrom.
For him, state leagues help develop the game at the grassroots level, which will eventually led to a sustained growth of the game at the national level, adding that Edo State is ready to be used as pilot for the state league.
“I will use this opportunity to agree to a four year deal to host and sponsor the Division One Handball League, which will start from the next edition in November” He said
“We are happy with what the HFN is doing by taking the sports to all part of the country.
“I want to urged the HFN to make the Division One handball league big in a way that qualification will be from state leagues, which in essence will provide jobs for players, coaches, backroom staff and other stakeholders up to the national level,” Deputy Governor Philip Shaibu said.
In response, the HFN Chairman Caretaker Committee, Sam Ocheho commended Edo State for providing facilities and other logistics for the National Division One League, currently going on in Benin and for agreeing to sponsor the competition for the next four years.
The HFN caretaker boss noted that his desire and that of the federation is to take the game to an enviable position with the support of government, private sector and all other stakeholders.
He also called for backing for the state team, Edo Dynamos who will be representing Nigeria at the Africa Club Championship in Morocco in August.
“I want to thank the Edo State government for agreeing to host the National Division One Handball League for the next four years.
Our desire is to ensure that the game of Handball grows and gets its rightful place as one of the best sports in Nigeria and we can only do that with the help of government and private organisations.
For Edo State to decide to partner with us shows that they are interested in the developmental growth of the sport and it shows in the upliftment of sporting facilities in the state”. Ocheho said.