Coach Kanyemba: Zambia’s World Cup qualification a game-changer for young stars


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

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

Kanyemba shared her insights on how she motivated her young charges and the broader impact this achievement will have on their lives, their families, and the future of women’s football in Zambia.

When asked how it feels to have qualified for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, Kanyemba expressed immense pride and satisfaction. “It feels really good to have qualified for the biggest platform of women’s football at youth level,” she said.

“It is an honor to be at the helm of a team that has qualified for the World Cup, and it is an even bigger honor for me to do so as a woman.” This achievement not only represents a milestone for the team but also highlights the progress of women in coaching roles within football.

Reflecting on Zambia’s return to the World Cup after a 10-year absence, Kanyemba emphasized the significant strides the country has made in developing women’s football. “We last qualified 10 years ago, and it showed that the country has great potential,” she noted.

“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.”

She highlighted that such achievements have inspired more girls in Zambia to pursue football as a career, making their return to the World Cup less of a surprise and more of an expected outcome of their hard work.

Addressing the challenges they faced during the qualifiers, Kanyemba credited the team’s success to the players’ attitude and work ethic. “Irrespective of the tough opposition, we had players with great attitude and work ethic,” she said.

By teaching the girls about their predecessors and highlighting role models like Barbara Banda, who made their name at this level, Kanyemba instilled a resilient and positive spirit in the team. “We reminded them how their lives could change if they play at a FIFA World Cup like their seniors,” she added.

This motivation was crucial, as the players understood that qualifying for the World Cup could significantly improve their lives and those of their families.

The importance of Zambia’s qualification for women’s football in the country cannot be overstated. Kanyemba explained that it showcases the potential and growth of the sport in Zambia.

“Knowing that the norm previously was that women cannot do this, we have shown the world that we can even do it better,” she said. This success has transformed the way parents view their daughters’ participation in sports, leading to increased support and encouragement.

“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,” Kanyemba noted.

Looking ahead, Kanyemba has set ambitious goals for the team. “The fact that we have qualified was our first goal,” she stated. “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 performing much better from that point.

Once we advance, anything is possible.” These objectives reflect a determination not only to participate but to excel on the global stage.

On a personal level, Kanyemba aims to demonstrate her capabilities as a coach and lead her team to new heights. “I want to show my capabilities as a coach and lead the girls to better heights,” she said.

Her focus is on imparting positivity and confidence in her players, as well as continuing to improve her coaching skills to further develop women’s football in Zambia upon her return.

As the Copper Princesses prepare for the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in the Dominican Republic from October 16 to November 3, 2024, Kanyemba’s leadership and vision will be crucial.

This journey represents not only a significant achievement for the team but also a beacon of hope and inspiration for the future of women’s football in Zambia.

With dedication, hard work, and a positive mindset, the young Zambian players are poised to make a lasting impact on the global stage, transforming their lives and the perception of women’s sports in their home country.

Photo: CAF Online

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