The young Golden Hands, Ghana’s U-17 and U-19 national handball teams, missed out on qualification for the Africa Women’s IHF Trophy championship after ‘surrendering’ slots for the two categories to Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire at the Africa Zone 3 International Handball Federation (IHF) Challenge Trophy that ended at the Tennis Arena at the Accra Sports Stadium on Saturday.
After five days of action, Ghana managed a bronze medal feat at the juniors level (U-17) after a final day draw against the eventual winners of the group, Cote d’Ivoire, in a thrilling match.
Benin earned a respectable silver medal feat with Liberia, the whipping girls of the tournament, in fourth.
Nigeria dominated the youth (U-19) category and emerged gold medal winners, followed by Cote d’Ivoire in second position and Benin in third.
The Ghanaians came in a disappointing fourth position, followed by Liberia which conceded the highest number of goals and scored the fewest.
Saturday’s final day matches attracted an enthusiastic crowd that cheered the teams with the biggest rivalry between Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire at the U-17 level.
It was attended by high profile sports personalities including the Supervisor of the championship, Mr Seidu Diouf, from Senegal the Handball Association of Ghana (HAG) President, Nii Lante Bannerman, Accra Africa Games 2023 LOC boss, Dr Kweku Ofosu Asare, Dr Ilona Hapkova, IHF Representative, Ghana sports federations heads and executive members of the HAG.
Ghana’s keeper, Mary Dodoo and Seidu Fatima gave local fans something to cheer about when they grabbed the Best Goalkeeper and Top Scorer gong respectively during the awards presentation at the juniors’ category.
The Most Valuable Player (MVP) in this category was, however, won by Kone Sanata from La Cote d’Ivoire.
At the youth level, Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Precious Samuel, was adjudged the best with Fatima Bamba emerging the top goalscorer with 47 goals and Nigeria’s Esther Matthew winning the MVP award.
Closing the event, the President of HAG, Nii Lante Bannerman, expressed gratitude to Mr Seidu Diouf, who doubles as President of the Senegal Handball Federation, the IHF representative and other guests that supported the HAG.
He said the HAG experienced a few challenges, but managed to overcome them to stage a successful tourney.
“We are excited at the good experience we’ve gained. This is just the beginning. We won’t relent. We would continue from this stage as we strive to make the sport big in Ghana.
Dr Hapkova, the IHF representative on her part commended the players for the hardwork and the commitment shown from HAG to revive the sport in Ghana.
Mr Diouf hailed the level of officiating and said that was good for Africa.