AT first sight, one would not detect the amount of Handball talent that lies in 15-year-old Nathan Shiluwe. Not until he gets on the courts and does what he knows best, can one realise the potential and a true champion in him.
Nathan gets his power from his legs and his consistent work rate on the courts has made him one of the hardest hitting center backs.
His ability of not wearing-down easily makes him a better player in each game and he just simply gets stronger in every game.
Nathan’s quiet personality and unpretentious style of play is in tandem with his characteristics of a driven athlete.
He is determined to be the best he can be and with the enthusiasm of testing his skills against the best players in the sport today.
He is part of a flamboyant new crop of sprouting young athletes that hold Zambia’s keys of success at world sporting events.
As is the case in any sports discipline, it is never easy for young players to make it to the summit on account of stiff competition amongst themselves.
This calls for extra work on the part of players if their aspiration of climbing the ladder of success is to bear fruit.
Handball is one the minor sports in Zambia today but the standard of play has sky-rocketed considerably over the last few years, with several players now capable of playing against the highly rated players in the world.
Nathan describes his game as “adaptable” and counts his ability to modify his game to counteract his opponent’s strength.
His self-assessment is supported by a playing style which embraces components of the three contrasting yet effective styles of play: proficiency to control rallies and take opponents out of their comfort zone, the superb defensive-offensive shot making and the immaculate positioning and timing.
He began playing handball at 11 years old and credits Josab Changa, the current Handball Association of Zambia (HAZ) communications manager for inspiring and influencing his high level approach to the game.
With great determination and a sharp eye for victory, Nathan has taken a giant leap towards success by working so hard to earn a place in the Handball national team.
He is set at testing and perfecting his skills in Kenya for the 9th African Handball Championship Male Youth Qualifier for the 2014 Nanjing Olympic Games.
The tournament that is billed for March 14 to 31 will see outstanding teams book spots at the Nanjing youth Olympics in China later this year.
The dream of most athletes is to take part in the Olympic Games and Nathan is not taking the Kenya qualifiers lightly because he knows the qualifiers will define his ultimate goal of competing at the Olympics.
“I want to become a professional handball player who will be rated among the best players around the globe and I will work hard to achieve that dream,” he said.
The Lusaka Tigers player believes the Kenya trip presents an opportunity for him to fulfill his Olympic dream and he is set to go all-out and give in his best to guide the Zambian team to the Nanjing Olympics.
Last weekend, Nathan fired warning shots to the provisional handball team that is currently in camp preparing for the Kenya trip.
He scored eight times to inspire the national team to a resounding 22-16 victory over Green Eagles in a warm up match played at the Olympic Youth Development Centre (OYDC).
The teenager is not just a talented player but he is also a useful tool for the Zambian team as they bid to deliver positive results in Nairobi.
The fact that Zambia is currently ranked second in Southern Africa and seventh on the continent by the Confederation of African Handball is reason enough for a good show in Kenya.
That ugly past that has always deprived Zambia of meaningful achievements at international events, should be overcome by this new generation of athletes who are determined to cancel that misfortune and deliver the positives for the nation.
Nathan is therefore a testament of a new era that will win medals for Zambia.
“To get the result at the end of a tough game is really satisfying,” said Nathan adding, “It’s a nice way to start the season and hopefully I can keep it going.”
The teenage player does not have much time to bask in his most recent triumph of eight goals in a friendly encounter, as he will be expected to repeat the same display in a real game in Nairobi.
He is fully aware that the tournament will feature a loaded field of talented handball athletes vying for not only the win, but also qualification for the junior Olympics.
Nathan believes he will reach greater heights in the sport by sticking to his formula of training hard on the court to sharpen his skills.
Born on May 18 1999 of Frazier and Royce Shiluwe, Nathan is a sixth child in the family of nine.
He currently a grade nine pupil at Simon Mwansa Basic School in Lusaka and Handball allows him to indulge in his love of making friends during different tournaments and league games.
Having discovered his love for the sport just four years ago, he has revealed his fiercely competitive nature and unparalleled attention to detail by winning the league title with tigers last season.
Among his favorite local players are David Kalunga and Chikatizyo Bwalya-Banda from Kasisi Dynamite as well as Ruth Mbewe from Lusaka tigers and Rose Mbewe of Kamwala stars, saying they are good players who have always given him a tough time whenever he plays against them.
Nathan is just an example of a number of young athletes in the country that are eager and ready to lift Zambia’s name in the eyes of the world.
Any form of support towards these young stars at club and national levels would go a long way in building a team of future champions.
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