Headache over fate of handball after coronavirus

Tuesday, April 14th, 2020 00:00 |
Celine Wabuke of Kenyatta University (left) attempts to score past Nairobi Water goalkeeper Winford Miyenda during a past league match. INSET: Emanuel Laisa of Makueni Bees in full flight for a score amid tight marking from Maxwell Munene of Strathmore University. Photo/PD/RODGERS NDEGWA

There are mixed feelings regarding the fate of the Kenya Handball Federation (KHF) league which was to conclude yesterday had the Covid-19 pandemic not forced a postponement. 

The federation had planned to take advantage of the long Easter weekend and have their matches run from Good Friday through Easter Monday when the regular league champions for both the men and women’s leagues were to be crowned. 

But following the suspension of the league, teams have expressed different stands on continuation or cancellation of the season when the ban on gatherings is finally lifted and the pandemic contained. 

KHF fixtures secretary Charles Omondi says a decision will only be reached after a meeting with teams when it is clear to go back to training.

In addition to consultations with the teams, he adds that the African Confederation’s calendar will also guide the decision on the next course of action. 

“At the moment, we cannot make any decisions as we do not know how long this will last. The next season was set to throw off in June but there are indicators the wait could spill over to the new season. 

Normally,  we submit our champions to the African Confederation in May for the African or East and Central African championships so we are also waiting for communication from them on the possible changes to the continental calendar so we can plan accordingly,” said Omondi. 

Team officials have weighed in on the issue with some calling for cancellation while others support continuation.  

National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB)  team manager Edna Kasandi is open to continuation as she argues that this has affected action globally and calendars will have to be redone.  

“World over,  the handball calendar has been affected by this and adjustments have to be made.  Personally,  I think we should continue with the league and get a champion. 

The current league standings cannot be used to determine a winner or even a top six for the Super Cup to be played as teams have played a different number of matches,” said Kasandi.  

In a bid to clear the matches fast upon resumption,  Kasandi suggests the introduction of midweek matches to help clear the backlog of this season’s matches and catch up with the new season. 

However,  she is not entirely opposed to cancellation with current champions holding the trophies for another season.  

Meanwhile,  Rangers HC head coach, who also doubles up as Makueni Bees’ tactician Gerald Juma, has welcomed cancellation if the current ban and consequent suspension of the league stands past May.  

“If at the end of May this virus will not have been contained and action resumed,  the season should be concluded and the current leaders, regardless of matches played, crowned champions.

It may sound unfair but the delay in matches is not the top teams’ fault. Alternatively,  the top six teams in the current standings can take part in a playoff from where a champion can be crowned,” said Juma.  

Strathmore University coach Peter Mwathi says the only fair decision would be cancellation of the current season. His team is in the lead at 34 points from 18 matches, having lost one match. 

The women’s  league has holders Nairobi Water in the lead with 16 points from eight wins.

More on Other sports