What you need to know:
- In the women’s category, Kisumu Academy won all their three first leg matches to top the four-team league on six points, two ahead of Thea Queens also from Kisumu.
- But just like in the men’s event, Kisumu Academy had been displaced from the top spot by Thea Queens on eight points as of March when all sports activities were halted in the country.
Organisers of the Victoria Handball Super League (VHSL) in Kisumu have abandoned plans to restart the competition in October, and declared Kisumu Saints and Kisumu Academy as this season’s winners.
VHSL Director Robert Owino said the decision to cancel the league was made after it emerged that most of their members – teams belonging to various learning institutions will not be able to assemble to honour their remaining fixtures.
“Most of the teams are funded by their respective institutions, and since the places closed down due to Covid-19, it will be difficult for them to re-group and resume playing,” said Owino.
And in what is a blessing in disguise because of that cancellation, Kisumu Saints and Kisumu Academy were declared men’s and women’s winners respectively of the competition that features teams from Nyanza and Western regions.
The two teams were declared the competition’s new champions by virtue of topping their respective leagues at the end of the first leg contest.
In the men’s event, which had nine teams competing - Kisumu Saints won all their eight first leg matches to top the standings on 16 points, four ahead of four-time champions Kisumu Academy Handball Club.
“Last season we worked hard but finished second after Kisumu Academy. This season we were consistent and even beat them (Kisumu Academy) in the league match, so I don’t think we are lucky to be announced champions,” said Kisumu Saints Assistant Captain Elton Asava.
As of March when sports activities in Kenya were halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, Kisumu Academy were on the steering wheel on 22 points, while Kisumu Saints trailed closely on 20 points with a game in hand.
In the women’s category, Kisumu Academy won all their three first leg matches to top the four-team league on six points, two ahead of Thea Queens also from Kisumu.
But just like in the men’s event, Kisumu Academy had been displaced from the top spot by Thea Queens on eight points as of March when all sports activities were halted in the country.
“Our motto has always been to train hard and win easy. That is why we were at the top of the table at the end of the first leg. Therefore, it is not by luck that we are this season's winners, “said Kisumu Academy captain Agnes Akinyi.
Following the cancellation of the league, the organisers’ attention now shifts to the Super Cup challenge, which will take place in mid-November, should the government allow sports activities to resume in the country.
But unlike before where only the top eight teams in VHSL have been featuring in the championships, this year’s event will also involve teams that do not take part in the competition.
“We have decided to make it open to get teams to replace the learning institutions that will not be taking part,” said Owino, adding that they have scheduled the third edition of the five-aside handball challengefor December 12.
VHSL is one of the grassroots competitions that have protested the proposed guidelines on resumptions of sports in the country, arguing that they lack the capacity to implement them, therefore if rolled-out, will deny them the opportunity to return to the pitch this year.