Lagos – Team Rivers on Thursday shattered the dream of Team Lagos to win the female handball gold medal after defeating them 29-25 in the final match at the ongoing 18th National Sports Festival in Lagos.
The third place match of the category was won by Team Ondo which defeated Team Plateau 20-15 to win the bronze medal.
Rivers had earlier defeated Plateau 25-21, while Lagos defeated Ondo 33-20 in the semi-finals, to qualify for the final of the event at the Handball Courts of the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
Meanwhile, Team Lagos and Team Borno have qualified for the finals of the male category of the event, while Team Sokoto will tackle Team Ondo in the third place match.
George Somiari, Vice Chairman, Rivers State Handball Association, said that their victory in the female category was a consolation for the state’s disqualificaton in the male category, on technical grounds.
The Rivers male team was disqualified for fielding an unregistered player in their quarter-final match against Team Sokoto which they won 35-27 and the match was awarded to Sokoto.
“I am overjoyous; this victory is a consolation for us after we were disqualified on technical ground in the male category by the organisers.
“The disqualification did not, however, discourage or demoralise our female team. In fact, it further toughened their spirit to fight to the finish.
“If not for the disqualification, we would have successfully defended the two categories.“ he said.
Somiari attributed good the co-ordination and their players’ discipline to their desire to win the female gold medal.
Olusanjo Ogundoro, Team Rivers Coach, said that the athletes were motivated with good pay by the state government.
“Our athletes are motivated to win over and over again in the festival generally because they receive attractive welfare packages from the state government,“ he said.
Shittu Agboola, Lagos State Handball Coach said they lost due to a `costly mistake conceded by their goalkeeper during the match and luck, which he said was not on their side.
“We tried our best, but luck was not on our side and our keeper was not experience enough. We will work hard to get a goalkeeper trainer before Calabar 2014,“ he added. (NAN)