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How Kenya Handball Federation bungled national teams engagements

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How Kenya Handball Federation bungled national teams engagements by Kenyans247(1): Fri 25, December, 2020 11:24am
What you need to know:
Long-awaited national elections postponed to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic
From Kenyan teams arriving late for international tournaments, to enduring poor preparations, KHF was seemingly not up to the task
Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results best explains the operations of Kenya Handball Federation (KHF) in as far as national teams preparations was concerned.

It was either the national teams are turning up for competitions late or they have had haphazard preparations or both.

Disbanding and arbitrary assembling national teams was also a concern.

Early this year, during the Africa Olympics qualifiers in Tunisia, the Kenya men’s team arrived late in Tunis and missed their first match against Democratic Republic of Congo.

Poor preps
Team's preparedness ahead of the event was wanting. Case in point. While the qualifiers were staged indoor, the team trained at an outdoor facility at Kaloleni ground in Nairobi before they moved to Nyayo National Stadium's handball court. Take note that the Nyayo facility is also outdoor.

It is only a week to the competition that the team moved to Moi International Sports Centre, indoor arena, Kasarani. The poor preparations reflected on the results.

Kenya were drawn in Pool “A” alongside Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo and Guinea.

The side, coached by Peter Mwathi, lost all their preliminary round matches.

If any consolation, they beat Zambia 28-117 in the play-off for 15th position of the 16-nation affair.

Egypt won the tournament to secure a place in the Tokyo Olympic Games after beating Tunisia 27-23 in the final.

Egypt will also represent Africa in the 2021 World Championship together with Tunisia, Algeria, Angola, Cape Verde, Morocco and DRC who all finished in the top seven positions during the qualifiers.

Mwathi at the time complained of the limited time the team had to prepare for the qualifiers.

“It's all systems go and we are ready to hit the ground running immediately we get the green light from the federation to assemble the team and start training. Time is not on our side but thankfully we have a competitive and ongoing league so the players are in competition mood,” said Mwathi.

This was not the first time the Kenya team had arrived late for an event. Last year, the national women's team arrived late n Morocco for the African Games in Casablanca consequently missing their first match against Uganda.

Kenya women's coach Jack Ochieng at the time said the Ministry and the federation got it all wrong with their travel arrangements.

“Many teams were traveling. But I think proper logistics could have been put in place. Officials could have known which teams would have travelled early guided by which sports were to be played first.

“For instance, due to the mix ups, only seven players of probable 14 travelled. Other players then followed later. By the time they arrived in Casablanca it was too late to take to the court. Maybe things would have been different if the team arrived early,” said Ochieng.

Failed to qualify
Denmark-based Brian Mathews as well as international goalkeeper Tyrus Agunda, who plies his trade in Rwanda, who were part of the team that failed to qualify for the Olympics, called on the federation not to disband the team.

Goalkeeper Agunda, who plies his trade with Rwanda Police, said the current Kenya team had what it takes to excel in future assignments.

“The issue of disbanding a team and assembling new players every other time an event comes up kills momentum and growth of the team. This squad is young and I believe if it's retained and fielded in events they will come of age and start performing well. We need to do things right otherwise we will always lag behind,” said Agunda.

The national teams have had regular coaches with Mwathi taking charge of the men's team this year while Jack Ochieng was guiding the women's side.

Mathews, whose three-year contract with Denmark’s Division Two side Nordjurs HK ended this year , threw his hat in the ring for a coaching role.

Mathews, who has been living in Denmark for a decade and has participated in the top two leagues of that country said the time was ripe to make a switch.

"I have played at the top level and I know how it feels. While I know I have not achieved all that I had set out to do like playing in the champions League, I look back with satisfaction. I really don't want to put myself in a shell that I want to coach here or there , but I'm open to coaching anywhere, whether it's a national team or club anywhere in the continent if I will not be approached by foreign clubs to continue playing. I have a rich playing career that I believe will be helpful to the players," Mathews said.

Next year, Kenya women’s team will be seeking to excel where their male counterparts failed when they make their debut in the rescheduled 24th edition of African Nations Cup that to be held in Yaoundé, Cameroon.

The event was scheduled to be held this year but it was postponed to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We had already put forward the budget to the Ministry of Sports to participate and they responded positively. We hope the women’s team will perform well and book one of the six slots to the World Championship,” KHF fixture secretary Charles Omondi was quoted saying.

At the club level, National Cereals and Produce Board, and Kenya Defence Forces men together with Nairobi Water women qualified for the Africa Club Championship that was originally to be held from November 13 to 22 in Egypt but suspended due to the Covid-19 situation.

Strathmore University's Nicholas Munyau shoots to score against University of Nairobi during their Kenya Handball Federation National League match at Kaloleni grounds on March 7, 2020.

Chris Omollo | Nation Media Group
The three teams were the best ranked in the men’s and women's KHF National League.

Kenya was also scheduled to host the East and Central African clubs championship later in the year but the event was also put on hold due to the virus.

The event brings together top teams in various leagues across the region.

It remains to be seen if the league, which had reached its halfway stage, will continue from where it left or will be cancelled altogether.

NCPB (men) and Nairobi Water (women) were in pole position before Covid19 paralyzed everything.

The long-awaited KHF national elections, which were to be held later this year, were also shelved due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The elections, that are held after every five years, were last conducted in 2013.

The federation’s last national polls scheduled in 2018 were stopped after one of the aspirants Shisoka Akaka moved to the Sports Disputes Tribunal (SDT) seeking to have the branches system discarded for a county one in line with the 2013 Sports Act.

He also sought to have an independent team appointed to oversee a free and fair process.

“It’s better we deal with the federation. The Registrar headed by Rose Wasike seems to take long making decisions and if we chose to go her way the elections might never happen,” said Akaka, who lost in his bid to be the treasurer in the 2013 elections.

“We are ready to have the elections conducted. We will engage the stakeholders and have an independent body run the elections. The issue of branches becoming counties might not work now but maybe in future but we are keen to go that route once the elections are conducted because we want to conform to the Sports Act,” KHF fixtures secretary Charles Omondi was quoted saying.



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