Musa Kambundu, left-wing for Zambia’s national handball side, hopes to compete in the Olympic Games 2020 in Tokyo.
“One of my biggest thoughts is to play handball out of Africa, to make my living through handball, and I know it will occur,” he says.
Filmmaker Austin Meyer tells Musa’s story in this poignant short. Olympic Handball Followers from all over the world can buy Olympic Handball tickets online.
Even though it’s 2019, there’s still a long road ahead for athletes hoping to compete in the Tokyo Olympics 2020. But for the Zambia National Handball Side, also known as the Super Shooters, a new year moves them one step closer to the dream of a lifetime.
Many people would find it hard to believe that a group of dogged young men from the impoverished settlements of Lusaka would have the faintest hope of competing in Tokyo. In Zambia, situated in Southern Africa, 40 percent of people live in dangerous poverty, and only half of the populace can read and write.
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But back in 2012, an official at the Japanese Embassy in Zambia, Seiji Tashiro, saw a great deal of potential in the agile boys competing on the country’s only handball field, just a few kilometers outside of the capital. He contacted the Handball Association of Zambia to offer his services as a coach and mentor. That ran to the creation of the Zambia Japan Handball Exchange Project.
Musa Kambunda, now 20, saw the game as more than just a way to stay fit and bond with other athletes. The meager salary offered to the players also helped bring food into his parents’ home. And that small sign unlocked a bigger vision: perhaps winning at handball could help him win at life.
When documented filmmaker Austin Meyer spent time with the team early last year, their determination reminded him of his own athletic journey. It began when Meyer started playing soccer at age four and lasted throughout his years playing center-midfield for Stanford University’s team.
Meyer says their focus and energy were “intoxicating.” “A lot of them had such high aspirations for what handball could mean for their stocks. The query I hoped the video would pose is how truthful was that? I had a similar knowledge when I was leaving Stanford and trying to become a professional soccer player. You’re continually asking yourself, ‘Am I just living on a vision, or is this a possible reality?’”
The head of the Handball Connotation of Zambia, Victor Bwalya-Banda, believes a trip to the Olympics 2020 is within their reach. The newly formed Senior Team, consisting of the first group of players were 14 years old in 2012, has already traveled to Tokyo for training, thanks to support from the Japanese government.
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Bwalya-Banda says, “That trip gave them a dream of what is possible. It made them double their efforts every day.”
The side placed first in a preliminary Zone Six competition for African countries last June, but the next hurdle to clear is this March, during the qualifiers for regional handball teams. Then originates the All-Africa Qualifiers in Morocco in September. The top four teams from the African continent will then have a chance to compete for a spot in the Tokyo games.
That goal may not be certain for Zambia Super Shooters, but it also is not impossible, Bwalya-Banda says.
“We have faith in our abilities. It is not for us to let the reverie die.”
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