With a small handball federation founded in 2009, Tajikistan have been working hard finding their unique path to continued development, with particularly decisive leaps made in the last four years. Recently, as part of a development aid project, the IHF delivered 200 handballs after holding an Olympic Solidarity course in the country in 2021. The balls have been distributed to 21 different coaches representing all regions of Tajikistan.
Handball in Tajikistan has been on the rise, taking on new momentum since 2019, when Mukhammad-Farid Mirzokhodiev became federation president. The structure focuses around Olympic Reserve Sports Schools, with a total of eight groups — four men’s and four women’s — functioning prior to 2019. At that point, there were also three recognised coaches in the country. Tajikistan have never been able to participate in an Asian Championship in any age category, but they have fielded teams in the IHF Trophy.
The Olympic Solidarity course conducted in 2021 by IHF expert Igor Shestakov was found to be very beneficial. Handball Federation of Tajikistan (HFT) President Mirzokhodiev confirmed that, following the course, Tajik coaches have been able to spread their new knowledge through different regions.
In 2022, the HFT prepared extensive handball development programme documentation designed to further accelerate growth of the sport. As of 2023, the number of groups playing handball regularly has increased to 42, operating across 12 Olympic Reserve Sports Schools and comprised of six for adult men, six for adult women, 15 for youth boys and 15 for youth girls.
Competitions are particularly active at a junior and youth level, with a number of national-level championships and tournaments organised for both genders each year. These events are supported by the Youth and Sports Committee, which is under the government. This year, a national-level championship between college and university students will take place in October.
All of this has been achieved by a hard-working group of volunteers, with coaches in the country managing HFT activities at their own expense and around their professional time commitments. For example, HFT President Mirzokhodiev works as a coach at the Olympic Reserve Sports School in Dushanbe and the Institute of Physical Culture of Tajikistan.
For Tajikistan, the only way is up, as they forge their way through challenges and find their unique solutions.