Namibian women’s hockey national team has broken a record after scooping a major boost to their world rankings, landing at world number 11 this week from an earlier 14th position soon after a brave fight in the Berlin World Cup.
Speaking to The Villager Sport, national team coach, Erwin Handura, could not hide his excitement at the new ranking saying such an historic accomplishment comes at a time when the team is currently made up of some of the youngest players in the world.
“This is the highest ranking Namibia has ever achieved whether being an indoor or outdoor. So it’s a milestone that we achieved and also with a very young team, the average age in the team is 21.4 years. So for me it’s a huge accomplishment. And also for the country at large and the players. I think all credit goes to the players,” he said.
Pressed on how he intends to strategise around consolidating these gains and breaking into the world’s top-ten, Handura said he is not sure since his contract is slated to expire this coming year.
“That one does not depend on me. My contract is for four years. So that four years starts from 2015 and it should run until 2019. There is no guarantee that my contract will be extended. So the rest is not in my hands,” he said.
Having brought the team thus far into unfamiliar territory, Handura says he is satisfied that he has done his best.
“If it’s up to me to take it forward, I know how to do it. If some one else is to come on, it is up to that person to decide whether he or she will be able to keep up with the good work that I have done or not,” he said.
The coach is yet to engage the team management and see if there can be arranged a special event where they can celebrate this milestone as a team and in style.
“We will discuss that shortly with the team management and also then inform the players accordingly," he said.
Handura has given credit to the team sponsor, Seaflower, which came on board to financially aid the team’s journey to Berlin for the world cup.
“Two years before we qualified, they came aboard. They believed in us, they believed in our vision to qualify for the world cup. I think Seaflower took a huge gamble and that gamble paid with huge dividends. And of course I would like to thank the Namibia Sports Commission for the support. Of course the players as well. You can be the best coach in the world, but without players you are nothing. Some players left school work behind and jobs to play for the national team which does not give you lots of incentives. It was team work even with the parents,’ said Handura.