Collin Matiza Sports Editor
THIS year promises to be a busy season for local junior handball players with several international tournaments lined-up for them both at home and outside the country.
Apart from competing in the inaugural Kwekwe International Handball Festival that has been slated to run from March 23 to 26 in the Midlands city, a number of young Zimbabwean hand-ballers are also expected to go to Europe to take part in a number of international tournaments which includes the Hanse Cup in Germany, the Partille Cup in Sweden and the Interamnia World Cup in Italy.
This year’s Hanse Cup, which is designed for the Under-15, 17 and 19 age-groups, will be held in the Bergedorf area of Hamburg, Germany, during the Easter Holidays on March 26 and 27; and it will be followed by the Partille Cup which is scheduled to run from July 4 to 9 in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Another big international youth handball tournament, the Interamnia World Cup, will be staging its 44th edition in the Italian city of Teramo from July 5 to 11 this year.
And Amon Madzvamuse, the president of the Zimbabwe Handball Federation, recently indicated that they were looking at sending junior teams to all these three international tournaments in Germany, Sweden and Italy this year.
In fact, Madzvamuse said they have already accepted an invitation to compete at this year’s Hanse Cup in Germany in March where Zimbabwe are likely to be represented by a number of clubs and schools.
“Harare’s Girls High School are done in terms of registration for this year’s Hanse Cup and we have already extended invitations to other high schools such as Bradley of Bindura, Masvingo’s Danhamombe and Chinhoyi High School as well as Prospect Primary School and AM Academy (both from Harare) who have all indicated that they would like to send players to compete in the same tournament in Germany in March.
“We are yet to get confirmation from Northlea and Mzilikazi high schools of Bulawayo and Masvingo High School. But I can safely say that we will definitely be sending a schools team or teams to this year’s Hanse Cup and we will soon be making our final confirmation,” Madzvamuse said.
The Mashonaland West Handball Association have already indicated that they will also be sending their Mashrhino select team to this year’s Hanse Cup in Germany where they are likely to be represented by a boys and girls Under-16 side.
Alfos Mhondiwa, the vice-chairperson of the Mashonaland West Handball Association, recently said they have already registered to compete at this year’s Hanse Cup and they were making all the necessary arrangements to raise funds for the trip to Hamburg.
“We have already picked our boys and girls Under-16 Mashrhino sides for this year’s Hanse Cup and in terms of fund-raising, it’s looking good for the boys side while we are still facing some challenges for the girls team as some parents are struggling to raise the required funds for this trip to Germany in March,” Mhondiwa said.
But he was still hopeful that they will be able to send a representative side to this year’s Hanse Cup for the second time in a row after they made their maiden appearance at the same tournament in April last year.
The Hanse Cup was born and started in 2012 by a top German handball club TSG Bergedorf.
The TSG Bergedorf-run tournament has some great benefits: great sports accommodation, a large group of enthusiastic supporters, the animated city centre of Hamburg and the convivial, atmospheric centre of Bergedorf itself.
Bergedorf is a green suburb 20 minutes by train from Hamburg. The tournament takes part in and around the Sportforum in Bergedorf, a large sports centre that offers tennis courts, a sauna, a gym and a lovely swimming pool as well as worldclass handball facilities.
Initially, the Hanse Cup was restricted to top junior handball clubs from France, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands and the hosts Germany before the tournament’s organisers broke with tradition last year when they invited Mashrhino select side from Mashonaland West Province in Zimbabwe to take part in this annual event.
In fact, Mashrhino made history last year as they became the first team from outside Europe and the first from Africa to compete in the Hanse Cup where they fielded teams in the boys and girls Under-16 age-group.
Their trip to Germany was facilitated by the GeBe Education and Sports Foundation, a German non-profit organisation which has links with a number of national sport associations in Germany and has a branch in Cape Town, South Africa, where it is also involved in running a number of sporting activities at grassroots level.
Bernd Wulffen, the director and founder of the GeBe Foundation, said after taking part in this year’s Hanse Cup, players from the Zimbabwean teams will be attached for 10 days to several top German handball clubs that are dotted around Hamburg before returning home.
“In fact, we have arranged a 10-day training camp for the Zimbabwean teams and the players who will excel or impress the German coaches might get handball scholarships in Germany which I think is really great for these aspiring young handballers from your country,” Wulffen said.