The 4th Edition of FCT Annual Handball Challenge starts today with a record seventeen teams battling for the coveted trophy in the modernized handball court at Old Parade Ground, Area 10, Abuja.
The championship which is being organized and sponsored by Centre for Sports Excellence in collaboration with FCT Handball Association have the defending champions Safety Shooters of Abuja leading eleven male teams and six female teams to the competition.
The male teams are Safety Shooters (FCT), Prison Key Boys (Nigeria Prison), Civil Defenders (NSCDC), Owena Kings (Ondo State), Kada Stars (Kaduna State), Edo Dynamos (Edo State), Gombe Boys (Gombe state), Nigeria Police (Zone II Lagos), Nigeria Police (Kaduna state), Idah Boys (Kogi state) and Kano Pyramid (Kano State).
The female teams include Safety Babes (FRSC), Plateau Queens (Jos), Civil Babes (NSCDC), Owena Queens (Ondo), Kada Queens (Kaduna State) and Nigeria Police (Kaduna State).
According to the draw released over the weekend, the female teams will play a league format while the male teams were placed in two groups.
Male group A teams are Safety Shooters, Owena Kings, Edo Dynamos, Police Kaduna and Ida Boys while group B includes Prison Key Boys, Civil Defender, Kano Pyramid, Kada Stars, Police Lagos and Gombe Boys.
A statement from the Chairman of Local Organizing Committee Bala K Mohammed said that the championship is in line with clamour for grassroot development of sports in Nigeria adding that his dream of organizing the competition is to see Nigeria Handball team participate in 2016 Olympic Games.
He further regretted the current crisis rocking handball in Nigeria and advised the parties involved to sheath their swords and come to a round table for proper negotiation.
“We cannot allow handball to die in this country. It was once the pride of all sports. What we are doing presently is to make sure that the game of handball regains its position in Nigeria” he concluded.
It would be recalled that both Safety Shooters and Safety Babes of Abuja have won all the past three editions of the competition.
DAY ONE MATCHES
Civil Defence v Prison Key Boys (Male) 9 am
Safety Babes v Civil Babes (Female) 11am
Safety Shooters v Edo Dynamos (Male) 1pm