HUNDREDS of primary schoolchildren are expected to converge at Houghton Park Primary School in Harare today for the inaugural national primary schools handball tournament.
Today's tournament, which is scheduled to start at 10am, is being hosted by the Zimbabwe Handball Federation in conjuction with the National Association of Primary School Heads
(NAPH), who run schools sport at primary school level in this country.
Alphios Magiya, the ZHF secretary-general, said yesterday that they decided to come up with this tournament as part of their development programme at grassroots level.
"In fact, this tournament is an initiative designed to close the gap between the ZHF and NAPH because handball has not had a big impact at primary school level which is part of our development programme at grassroots level in this country.
"So if we catch them young, our sport will grow big. The hosting of this junior tournament has also been necessitated by the international programme which includes the Partille Cup in Sweden which invites Under-10 national teams to take part in it annually," Magiya said.
Zimbabwe were recently invited to send two handball teams to the Partille Cup in Gothenburg, Sweden, in July.
The Partille Cup is the largest handball tournament for young people and during one week every year, nearly 19 000 participants from 50 countries descend on Gothenburg to participate in the cup.
This year's Partille Cup is slated to run from July 1 to 6 with the finals set to be staged in Valhalla and Scandinavium in Gothenburg.
And the ZHF will use today's national primary schools tournament at Houghton Park Primary School as part of their preparations for this year's Partille Cup.
The ZHF secretary-general Magiya also said Houghton Park Primary School has been chosen to host today's inaugural event because they were the first primary school in this country to play a regional handball friendly match in Malawi in December 2011.
"This tournament has also opened channels of communication between between ZHF and NAPH through their head of sports, a Mr. Siniso, who has also given us the go-ahead to compile a data and submit it to their office so that when they meet at their next meeting, they can consider handball to become a national sport at NAPH level," said Magiya, a seasoned handball administrator.
For today's tournament at Houghton Park Primary School, the ZHF have invited two teams from each province — one for boys and one for girls - and by Thursday, 16 teams had confirmed their participation.
"Our hope is that by hosting this tournament, NAPH will realise that they have been missing a beautiful sport that is cheap to administer and exciting to the kids," Magiya said.