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No handball at National Games due to factional feud


There will be no handball competition at the 2022 National Games in Gujarat as the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has decided to “drop” the sport from the schedule due to factional fighting in the federation.

Both versions of the sport – indoor and outdoor, to be held in Vadodara and Surat respectively – stand cancelled. The decision comes after rival factions claimed the right to send teams – eight teams each of male and female players – for each of the two versions to be competed from September 29 to October 12.

It is learnt that the taekwondo competition, originally on the National Games programme to be held in Surat, will also not be held now.

Vadodara city was set to host the indoor handball tournament at the Sports Complex in Sama while Surat was to stage the outdoor version at Dumas beach. According to officials of the Sports Authority of Gujarat (SAG), the cancellation of both versions of the handball game has come as a “disappointment” as several patrons were looking forward to the sport.

“It is extremely sad that the IOA has been unable to resolve the rivalry between (rival) federations, thus resulting in a loss not only for the patrons but also for the players of a total of 32 teams of handball that would have contested in Gujarat,” a top SAG official told The Indian Express.

“All arrangements were in place in Vadodara for the indoor version and in Surat for the beach handball games. However, despite a court order that the old federation — Handball Federation of India (HFI) should be recognised as the official authorised body to select teams, the Handball Association of India (HAI) has been interfering in the matter.”

The top eight teams from the previous edition of the National Games were supposed to participate in the men’s and women’s categories in both indoor and outdoor events. While the indoor event has teams comprising 16 players each, the beach event features teams of 10 players each. “The Senior Nationals for the men were held in Jaipur in March and the women’s nationals concluded in Hyderabad in April, from where the HFI had chosen eight top teams from each category,” the official said.

A senior IOA official said the decision to take handball off the programme was taken last week because of the factionalism within the Handball Federation of India. The official added that they received entries from two groups that claimed to be running the sport in the country. “So, around five or six days ago, we decided to drop handball from the National Games programme because of problems within the federation,” the official said.

For the athletes, the decision is a bitter pill to swallow. A national player from Gujarat said, “This decision is extremely distressing and sets a bad precedent for sports. Almost all sports are plagued with issues of rival factions and politics… Will it then be that in years to come we will not have National Games at all? What is the fault of the players, who spend the best years of their lives trying to learn the sport and honing their talent? If the national body cannot resolve such issues even for the interest of the game, the government must step in or the courts must.”

The National Games are being held after a gap of seven years.

(With inputs from ENS New Delhi)





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