SCHOOLS: Hospital Hill seeks to overcome size with skill as they eye to retain national handball title

Nairobi's Hospital Hill handball players and Mbooni High School from Eastern (in blue) battle in the finals during Kenya Secondary School Sports Association games at Hill School in Eldoret Uasin Gishu County. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

As the Kenyan Secondary School Sports Association (KSSSA) national Term One games finals loom on the horizon, the corridors of handball champions Hospital Hill High School are buzzing with anticipation.

The defending champions are gearing up to defend their hard-won title with fervor and determination, eyeing another triumphant campaign at the upcoming tournament scheduled from April 6-14 at Machakos Boys High School.

Their journey to the national finals has been nothing short of impressive. Hospital Hill High School exhibited sheer dominance in the Nairobi Region, culminating in a resounding 27-20 victory over Highway High School to claim the regional crown.

With their sights set on greater heights, they are eager to translate their regional success into national triumph.

Emmanuel Wabule, the architect behind Hospital Hill's handball prowess, expressed his team's targets, objectives, and goals ahead of the national finals.

"Our aim is clear: to build on our regional dominance and make a mark at the national level. Last year, we clinched the national title, but our performance at the East Africa games fell short of expectations. This year, we're focused on rectifying that," said Wabule.

Hospital Hill players of Nairobi celebtrate after beating Musingu of Western 26-14. [Peter Ochieng,Standard]

Wabule’s coaching philosophy is a blend of physical readiness and mental sharpness.

“It’s all about practice and endurance. We're maximising our game-time for training sessions and playing against national league sides to gain invaluable experience,” he said.

"We engage in intense workouts while balancing academics, primarily during games time. Additionally, playing against national league sides provides invaluable experience," he said.

One of the key challenges faced by Wabule is the size of his players.

"Our boys are not as physically imposing as last year, so we've shifted our focus to skill rather than relying solely on physicality. Despite this, we fear no opponent," he added.

Hospital Hill find themselves in Group A alongside Kimilili Boys, Handege Secondary, and North Eastern. Wabule believes it's a fair pool they can top, setting the stage for the knockouts.

Hospital Hill warmUp before handball match during Term 1 games handball at Starehe Boys Center in Nairobi. March 20, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

Amidst this backdrop of sporting excellence, the support system at Hospital Hill High School plays a critical role.

Principal Ken Bunyasi outlines a holistic framework aimed at nurturing talent both on and off the field.

“Our school believes in balance—50% academics, 20% co-curricular activities, with cleanliness and discipline making up the rest. We celebrate success in all these areas with awards and even a bull party for the top-performing house and class annually,” Bunyasi said.

This integrated approach is pivotal in ensuring the team is not just physically prepared, but also mentally and academically equipped for the challenges ahead.

"We have a wholesome commitment from all stakeholders—players, coaches, management—to ensure our team is not only competitive but the best. Our goal is to retain the national trophy and ensure our form four students have a pathway to universities or tertiary institutions.”

With Hospital Hill High School's unwavering determination and comprehensive approach to excellence, they are poised to make a resounding statement at the handball boy’s finals, showcasing not only their sporting prowess, but also their commitment to holistic development.

As the countdown to the finals begins, all eyes will be on Hospital Hill as they aim to cement their status as the powerhouse of Kenyan high school handball.

Dagoreti Mixed Rael Monalisa (left) and Edna Mwangi of Kamukunji during Term 1 games basketball at Starehe Boys Center in Nairobi. March 20, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

2024 KSSSA National Term One School games

Venue: Machakos Boys High School

Dates: April 6-14

Handball pools’

BOYS

Group A-Kimilili Boys, Handege Secondary, Hospital Hill, North Eastern

Group B- Manyatta Boys, Mbooni, Saniak, Mwangea Secondary

GIRLS

Group A-Moi Forces Mombasa, Dagoretti Mixed, Kwanthanze Secondary, Moi Girls Kamusinga

Group B-Ulanda Girls, Murindiko Baptist, Nyathuna Secondary, North Eastern

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