THE Zimbabwe Handball Federation have been applauded for their commitment to the development of the sport at grassroots level in this country. Speaking at the end of a four-day Level One international handball referees course at Girls High School in Harare on Saturday, the guest of honour, Musekiwa Kumbula, also applauded the ZHF and all their affiliates "for making efforts to ensure that handball is on the map in the Zone Six Region and internationally".
Kumbula is the Group Corporate Affairs Executive of a local food company, Innscor, who are one of the major sponsors of handball in this country.
Addressing the 65 participants who took part in this International Handball Federation-recognised Level One referees course, Kumbula said he was also very pleased to learn that Zimbabwe, as a handball-playing country, is up-to-date in terms of the sport's new international rules.
"So this course has served a useful purpose. I hope this will also improve the country's performance in coaching, playing and refereeing.
"This course will also go a long way in ensuring that we have a wide pool of referees to choose from, which will make handball more exciting and competitive.
"I hope that one day handball will be as popular as soccer, netball, basketball, rugby and cricket (in this country), and that players, coaches and referees will get international recognition and qualify for employment in foreign teams or countries.
"I also hope that students will be able to win college scholarships as they do in other sporting disciplines.
"It is (also) pleasing to note that as a country, we are not lagging behind. At the IHF Zone Six Under-20 Challenge Trophy tournament held in South Africa at the end of April, six coaches were trained and two of our referees were best in the region," Kumbula said before presenting certificates to the 65 participants.
Kumbula also said that it was very important for the ZHF to strive to seek for exchange programmes to expose the referees and schools where they are stationed.
"Such endeavours will also attract partners and sponsors for the growth and development of our sport.
"Handball is played mainly in schools and it very important that schoolteachers, at both primary and secondary school level, grasp and understand the basic rules inorder to impart knowledge to their pupils and ensure that games are handled fairly, effectively and professionally in accordance with international handball rules."
Kumbula was later given "the Freedom of Girls High School" by the school's headmistress Beauty Mtsambiwa, who is also the head of handball for NASH.
The four-day Level One international referees' course, which started last Wednesday and ended on Saturday, was conducted by a top South Africa-based handball referees' instructor Germain Kabamba at the invitation of the ZHF.
The 65 participants, who were mainly schoolteachers, were drawn from all of Zimbabwe's 10 Provinces and Kabamba said he was very happy with the large turnout.
Kabamba, from the Democratic Republic of Congo, urged the participants to transfer the knowledge that they gained during this course back to the players and the community in general in their respective provinces.
"We had a very good and exciting course and I was quite pleased with the enthusiasm and interest in becoming handball referees which was shown by all the 65 participants.
"And I'd like to challenge you all the participants here to impart this knowledge for the benefit of handball in Zimbabwe," Kabamba said.
He was later invited by the ZHF to come back to Zimbabwe in August for the National Youth Games in Bindura.
Amon Madzvamuse, the ZHF president, also challenged the participants to put all what they learnt during this course to good use as they returned to their respective provinces.
"Don't go and decorate the certificates which you've received here today at your homes... I'd like you all to put into practice what Kabamba has taught you in the four days you have been here.
"We want handball to grow in this country and I want you all to be part of our efforts to develop the sport at grassroots level by being actively involved in officiating at matches in your respective provinces," Madzvamuse told the participants.
He, however, took a swipe at Matabeleland North whom he said were not involved in the development of the sport in their province.
"Some provinces like Matabeleland North are a disgrace because they are not being actively involved in the development of handball in Zimbabwe.
"And I'd like to make it clear that we, as the ZHF leadership, are not afraid to replace those who are running handball in Matabeleland North," Madzvamuse fumed.
The ZHF boss later told the participants that his federation was looking at sending 35 people to Hungary next month for an IHF Level Two referees course.
"From June 27 to July 7 there will be a Level Two course in Hungary and we are looking at sending 35 participants and this shows that we are very serious in developing handball in Zimbabwe."