President of the Handball Federation of Nigeria Sam Ocheho believes they achieved beyond his expectations in 2018. In a chat with ACLSports.com at the Rowe Park, Yaba the former Lagos State Handball chairman outlined his achievements for the last one year.
“Last year we were able to do lots of competitions, attend international competitions and all these we did not because we had funds from the ministry but funds from sponsors, friends, personal funds we used to execute all these. We went for the IHF trophy in Niger we came first, in Rwanda for the continental phase we came first both in U-18 and U-20.
We went for the Youth Games the U-18 came third, went for the Junior Nations Cup for U-18 and U-20 we came third in both and that qualified us for the World Cup for the first time in 33 years so it was a good step for us. The senior team were at the Nations Cup and we didn’t do well unfortunately we had to ban the senior team and start afresh I think that decision was needed at that time.”
Ocheho continued,”the first year for me as the Handball Federation President I think we achieved more than I expected. I was looking at the medium to long term goal but a lot of things we have done in one year I am glad. I have achieved but again for me it’s just the beginning. We have to make every year better than the previous year.”
The HFN boss enumerated the challenges faced by his Federation after he assumed office in June 2017.
“Funding is always a challenge, ability to raise funds, the ministry and their lackadaisical attitude in terms of funding the federation sport also was a major challenge. Also, the economy is not a growing economy it’s been stagnating, a lot of businesses are not prospering it is kind of affecting sports because they would have been doing lots of social responsibilities.
Let’s be factual in Nigeria, sports is not yet at a level where we can do business so people putting money in sports now are doing what I call social responsibility. If we have gotten to the point we see sports as real business, then they would have been getting their money back in return either by pure branding or creating value for the sponsor. But within this constraint we were able to operate”.
“Another main challenge is bringing the Handball family together as one, though it’s gone significantly better. Before I came in, there were a lot of squabbles here and there, you will see players fighting, coaches fighting referees etc. We have not been able to achieve total peace but I think it’s about 70 % done,” he added.
Ocheho also pointed out the need to make the sport a household name in Nigeria.
“We need to popularise the sport and make it a household name. Once upon a time in the ’80s we were second to football in terms of team sports. We want to get back to that level. I want to see the awareness across the country and let people know the game and it difference from basketball, volley etc from the schools, grassroots and competitions.”