“My GRANDFATHER taught me how to dribble”

Born into a family of footballers, Zenatha Coleman (27) knew from a very young age that she was to play professional football. The Valencia CFF starlet was born and bred in Namibia, in a small village of Keetmanshoop Tseiblaagte.

Coleman reminisces on her upbringing to becoming one of many African female footballlers plying their trade abroad.

“My childhood was very exciting knowing I’m born in a household full of soccer players from grandfather [my greatest inspiration] to uncles and Mom,even my late father was a footballer, may he rest in Peace, so my mind was already made up that I wanted to play soccer as well when I grow up and it wasn’t difficult as my grandfather taught me how to kick and juggle a ball, when I was probably about 4-5 years,” Coleman said.

She praises her grandfather for mentoring her to becoming one of the best football players in Africa and refers to him as her all time favourite footballer.

“I always get a little emotional with this question (Who is your favourite footballer?), because it is neither a female nor a famous footballer, but it’s my grandfather, reasons being it’s him who taught me how to kick a ball against the wall everyday after school, taught me to juggle the ball 100 times, he held my little hand as we went to watch my uncles play also every person in the neighbourhood says I was taught well by him only thing is I never had the chance to see him play that’s why I just want to be like him,” she added.

Coleman’s football prowess’s has seen her playing for various football clubs abroad, among which is Gintra Universitetas in the A Lyga. She also talked about the challenges she faced when she first moved to Spain such as the weather changes and the language barrier.

“During my time at the club, we were two time Championship winners. My first year was on another level and it launched my professional career. Firstly I didn’t understand the language and only knew how to say thank you. Secondly I was not used to the weather as it snows or rain heavily but thats where I learnt how to play in the rain because in Africa we would cancel trainings or games when it was raining,” she laughed.

“I survived and just wanted to play football and it was the second year that I enjoyed the most because I won the top goalscorer award which I had been eyeing since my first year. That was like a small dream come true,” she added.

Coleman has played in the UEFA Champions League and managed to score a goal in every group stage match as well as in the round of 16.

“This is one of my greatest achievements and I felt no pressure. I saw myself as one the best African Women footballers. When you set your eyes on to something and knowing you have a team that believes in you, you just go out and deliver,” she added.

Coleman is the current Captain of the Namibian National Women’s team which is affectionally known as The Gladiators. An honour she holds in high esteem.

“This is such a massive honour for me. I only  have one challenge, Namibian female players hardly get exposure to play professional football and that makes it very difficult for the team to compete with top African countries at international level”

The gifted midfield meastro says playing in a league as big as the La Liga for CFF Valencia with players who play for the Spanish National team sometimes put a lot of pressure on her.

“This is a big challenge with a big club because I had a good few games when I was at Zaragoza and it was already a challenge because they saw what I was capable of and I had to keep that consistency coming through to Valencia. Knowing you have teammates now that play for the Spanish National team was huge, so you want to keep up with that level but I have grown through the way I play, I am more confident now and fearless, all thanks to the Club”

She feels she hasn’t achieved a lot in Spain as she hasn’t scored as many goals as she had hoped.

“I haven’t really achieved what I wanted in Spain because I’ve  set my target of goals of which I did not get and in Namibia when we have qualified for the next African Women Nations Cup we will talk about achievement”

Currently, the COVID-19 has halted the resumption of many football leagues around the World. Coleman is among the many footballers affected by the pandemic. She feels that it is hard to keep fit during the because of the lockdown regulations set out in many countries around the world.

“Personally I have not been able to do what I love most and this is coupled with not being able to keep fit, go to the gym and above all we are losing out on match fitness,” she said.

Coleman urges African female footballers who want to play abroad to use the negative circumstances they face within our continent as their motivation.

“I know in Africa we have thousands of negative circumstances but those should be your motivation to go out and be great for your family and country. Let circumstances be your motivation,” she concluded.