THE Handball Association of Zambia (HAZ) says the women handball team had benefitted a lot from its Norwegian coach, Maria Opheim, who has since left Zambia after a one year stint with the team as head coach.
HAZ league secretary Andrew Kalunga told the Daily Nation that the presence of Opheim had transformed the women team because she brought a lot of experience to the team and exposed them to the game.
Kalunga said Opheim would be remembered for her tireless efforts in transforming the team into what it was because she managed to qualify it to this year’s All-Africa Games (AAG) which was hosted by Congo Brazzaville even though the team lost all its matches.
He said the qualification the team’s qualification to the AAG was a turning point in handball in Zambia as the players learnt a lot of lessons from the tournament which would trickle to improving the sport among its players and followers. “Opheim will be remembered for her immense contribution in Zambia, particularly to the women team which she coached for a year. She was the coach that transformed the team into what it is today and it was because of her experience and resilience that she guided the team to maiden AAG tournament.
“Of course we did not win a single game at the tournament but we are happy because the players gained the needed experience by participating at such a high-level tournament and this will go a long way in improving the sport in the country,” Kalunga said.
As part of her send-off, HAZ organised the Independence tournament as farewell matches were played among men senior teams as well as the under 14 boys, while the girls and HAZ officials battled it out in the final match in which the officials emerged victorious via a 15-9 score line.
Zambia’s women team at the 2015 AAG was represented by Ruth Kunda, Esther Nyanganga, Lydia Kaila, Kamfwa, Ngwira, Elizabeth Daka, Jennipher Siamuleya, Janet Simwanza, Majory Mbewe, Ruth Mbewe and Rita Muluti.
Others were Elizabeth Gondwe, Beatrice Mashamba, Audrey Mulwanda, Rachael Mwanza, Ethiphen Banda while the technical bench comprised head coach Maria Opheim, coach Gaston Mulumbwa and Mwaka Muyangwa.