Started at the campus of University of Liberia, the National Handball Association, NHA, has made a stride that many of his players, mostly students from the various schools are proud of. When Professor J. Mayson Saweler thought of the need to encourage the formation of the sport, he was aware of the challenges ahead.
As a professor of physical education, Saweler realized that a healthy body is a happy person, and therefore he went ahead, with support from sports lovers to get the organization off the ground.
“I proceeded nonetheless,” Saweler, who is also president of the Liberia National Handball Association, told the Daily Observer last Tuesday in Monrovia, “because I knew there was more that the sport can do for Liberian youths.”
That was four years ago. Fast forward it to the year 2014 and after successful handling of the sport’s affairs, several schools in Monsterrado County, Grand Bassa, and Margibi County are part of it.
“Liberia is not Monrovia,” Saweler said, “so we decided to take the sport to other counties.” And his administration is considering further expansion, after the successful defeat of the Ebola outbreak in the country. Regular leagues are organized and awareness about discipline has also been encouraged.
In the organization’s first ever international assistance, Olympic Solidarity of the International Olympic Committee, through the Liberia National Olympic Committee, LNOC, provided sponsorship, along with a foreign expert that took participants through the sport’s fundamentals.
“It was that support that moved our sport to another level,” Saweler said. He now pleads for more Liberian government’s support.
He said, “We completed Ebola awareness for student athletes in Monrovia and we had hoped to extend it outside Montserrado County,” which could not continue due to lack of material support.
Meanwhile, at the end of its successful leagues before the outbreak of the deadly Ebola disease, “We have six schools to award prizes at a convenient period,” he said.
The schools, he said are Sarah Barclay in both male and female categories, (senior high); Melvin Sonnii (junior high) female division and Newport (male).
“Slipway won both male and female versions in the elementary division,” he said.
He said the six schools would receive a total amount of Ld30, 000.00, along with one set of jersey.
One of the major setbacks for handball, he said, was the recent cancellation of both male and female teams to have participated in the Lome, Togo youth tournament.
“Despite the disappointment,” Saweler said, “the grant of U$11,400.00 from the International Handball Federation is being spent for the development of handball, with the blessing of the International Handball Federation.”
“It was good news for us,” he said. During the preparation for the abortive trip to Togo, the Ministry of Youth and Sports could not honor a budgeted U$16,000.00, since the ministry did not have money for the trip; a source told the Daily Observer.
Among other activities, Saweler said his administration has purchased a vehicle for the organization to ease transportation difficulties. Needed support, he said was provided for three students, recently quarantined in West Point, and another is planned for three players in Dolo Town, in Margibi County who are also quarantined as a result of the fight of Ebola.
Said head Coach Arthur N. Dormoh, “We are excited about the progress of handball so far because we can now travel to other counties and make deliveries of 100 handballs.”
Coach Dormoh has been with handball from its formation. His colleague is (coach) Phillip Mansaray, who handles the male team.
President Saweler meanwhile noted his appreciation to the LNOC for providing an office space for the association. “We have a contact point on By-Pass in Monrovia and we thank LNOC and its president Phillibert Browne for their support,” he said.
He meanwhile expressed further appreciation to a foreign national who has been financially supportive to the development of handball in Liberia.