Saturday, July 13, 2024

World Cup qualification will change their lives says Kanyemba

Fresh from securing a place at the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup set to take place later this year, head coach of the Copper Princesses, Carol Kanyemba opened up to CAFOnline on the significance of Zambia’s qualification to the global showpiece.

Zambia secured their place on Saturday, 15 June after overcoming Morocco 3-1 on aggregate in the fourth and final round of qualifiers.

Kanyemba opens up on how she got the best of her young charges and how much the achievement means for their lives, families and women’s football in Zambia.

The FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup will take place at the Dominican Republic between 16 October – 03 November 2024.

Coach congratulations on your qualification. How does it feel to have qualified for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup?

It feels really good to have qualified for the biggest platform of women’s football at youth level and it is an honour to be at the helm of a team that has qualified for the World Cup. It is an even bigger honour for me to do so as a woman.

Zambia makes a return to the WC after a 10-year absence, what does this say about the exciting growth of women’s football in Zambia?

We last qualified 10 years ago and it showed that the country has great potential. Over the years we have worked hard and improved. This has been evident in that Zambia has qualified for the Olympics, World Cup and AFCON so it really shows the growth of women’s football in Zambia.

Because of such achievements, more girls in Zambia are taking up football as a career and hence returning to the World Cup for the second time is not so much a surprise for us.

What do you think attributed to this qualification considering that you had such tough opposition?

Irrespective of the tough opposition, we had players with great attitude and work ethic.

We always taught the girls about their predecessors and highlighted players like Barbara Banda who made their name at this level. This resulted in a resilient and positive spirit, and we reminded them how their lives could change if they play at a FIFA World Cup like their seniors.

We were very positive and optimistic from the first match. They knew that qualifying for the World Cup meant they could change their lives and family lives. So every match was played with that in mind, that they could change the lives of their families.

Why is important for the women’s game in Zambia for the nation to qualify for such a competition? 

This remains very important for us as it shows the potential and level of growth of women’s football in Zambia. Knowing that the norm previously was that women cannot do this, but we have shown the world that we can even do it better and this has really helped and change the way parents look at our children.

Parents now believe that a woman can play football and have a life-changing career which has changed the perspective that parents have had on women’s football and women’s sport in general.

What goals do you think you would want to set for the team?

The fact that we have qualified was our first goal. Now that we are through to the World Cup, we want to do better than the previous team by going beyond the group stage and perform much better from that point. Once we advance, anything is possible.

Personally, what goals would you like to achieve as a coach at the global showpiece?

I want to show my capabilities as a coach and lead the girls to better heights.

I want to be able to impart positivity in the girls and see how much I can improve myself when I get back to Zambia and further improve women’s football here at home.

[Cafonline]

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