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Handball is a team sport similar to fives in which two teams of seven players each (six outfield players and a goalkeeper) pass a ball using their hands with the collective aim of throwing it into the net of the other team. Unfortunately, over the years the game has experienced a significant decline so much that after a quick survey conducted with a small population only 5 in 10 youth could correctly describe what the game is about. Why is handball not what it used to be in Nigeria?

A History Lesson

The Game of handball was introduced to Nigeria in the year 1972 by the National Sports Commission (NSC). In this same year, the Handball Association of Nigeria (HAN) was formed and later became affiliated to the International Handball Federation (IHF). The governing body for handball in Nigeria is currently known as Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN). Nigeria’s first ever international handball event was held in Lagos as part of the 1973 All-Africa Games. Students from across the Federation were picked from different secondary schools to compete for Nigeria against 7 African countries; Egypt, Algeria, Cameroon and Togo were grouped together in Group A, while Nigeria, Senegal, Ivory Coast and Madagascar were in group B. Host team, Nigeria, lost all her group games and could not make it into the knock stages as Senegal and Ivory Coast however made it through from group B. At the end of the tourney, the Algerians were left standing tall as they took the gold medal, while Egypt came in second and Senegal settled for third place.  


Legal battles since ensued within and concerning the leadership of the federation and little was said about Handball until earlier in 2018 when president of the federation, Sam Ocheho, with the sponsorship of energy giants, Prudent Energy Limited, sponsored the Prudent Energy League with over 22 team across the nation in participation. This gesture has sparked resurgence in the game and hopefully in a couple of years the national Handball team of Nigeria will get to represent the nation in the Olympics.

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This article was first published on 25th June 2018


Achem Samuel is a writer and a musician, he is passionate about God and also an ardent fan of tech, sports and music.

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