Goal machine Coleman happy at Gintra University
Brave Gladiators duo of Zenatha Coleman and her Gintra Universitetas teammate Thomalina Adams are expected to arrive in Windhoek today after spending nearly seven successful months in Siauliai, northern Lithuania.
A starring role for the club, which included being the club's leading scorer with nearly 50 goals and the 2016 Lithuanian Women's League A Championship title, ended with Coleman being rewarded a contract extension to ward off tempting suitors from Europe's elite football leagues.
Such has been Coleman's impact that the club, who captured a record-extending 15th league title, that the Lithuanian champions intend to build the squad around the gifted Namibian attacker next season.
Coleman said she agreed to a new one-year contract despite attractive offers from across Europe to show gratitude towards Gintra for taking a gamble on her potential and because she believes the club presents excellent conditions for her to develop before taking the next step in her professional career.
That is a route taken by Côte d'Ivoire star Kok Marriete Ange, who after a similarly impressive 2015-16 season for Gintra moved to Spanish club Barcelona.
Dubbed 'Zee Zee' by her teammates, Coleman will return to Lithuania in early January after reconnecting with friends and relatives back home.
The club posted the following interview on their website with their prized asset on the eve of her journey back home:
Gintra Universitetas (GU): Zenatha do you feel happy after your first season here?
Zenatha Coleman (ZC): Of course I am happy. In fact, the whole season I worked very hard, I put a lot of effort and I think I deserve to receive the new offer. I believe that the coming season will be even more successful, both for me personally, as well as the team.
GU: How do feel about becoming a league champion in Lithuania?
ZC: This is my first trophy won in Europe. Just because of that, I will remember this title win for long. Although we won the championship quite easily, we had to keep working hard throughout the season.
GU: What are your immediate plans? Are you eager to see your loved ones?
ZC: I plan to go back home to Namibia. Undoubtedly, my greatest desire at this time is to see my family, who I miss very much and I know that they can't wait for me to come back. This is my first stop career abroad, so it was not easy to become accustomed to life here. Still, I am happy that I found myself here, where there were excellent conditions to develop as a personality and as a player. To maintain my endurance level for next season, I will be training to make sure I come back to Lithuania in good shape.
GU: After moving to Siauliai you mentioned that you were eager to know bout the city, its people and the environment. What can you say about these things after your time here?
ZC: First of all, the time passed fairly quickly (smiling). In fact, an athlete's life is such that the body requires rest often, so I admit that most of my time [off] is spent at home. At times I would go for a walk around the city. Siauliai is a calm city and the people here are friendly. I experienced no bullying or things like that, so I can say that to live here is good.
GU: During the training sessions, and other environments you probably often heard the Lithuanian language. Di you manage to learn something?
ZC: Yes I did. It is hard to pronounce, but I understand the terms used in the Lithuanian language of football, because I hear it all the time during practice. I will have the opportunity to learn it and so much more about Lithuania [when I return].
GU: This year you not only managed to play abroad but also made your debut in the biggest club football competition, the Uefa Champions League. Do you remember how did you felt before your first match?
ZC: Prior to the first match [against ARF Criuleni] in the Champions League, I felt very well prepared and the anxiety was replaced by great determination and enthusiasm. This game is imprinted as historic for me. I remember it fondly especially because the team was successful.
GU: What do you think hampered your team's chances to reach the main round of the Champions League tournament?
ZC: In the last match, we were simply not able to impose our own game. They [BIIK-Kazygurt from Kazakhstan] controlled the situation from the beginning of the match. In certain moments, there was a lack of concentration. It is a shame that after two matches played we were in the best position. We had a really good opportunity which we did not take, but this is football.
GU: What would you like to say to Gintra's fans?
ZC: I wish them to continue to actively support the team, keep showing interest in its activities, and keep track of its progress. Most importantly, the number of fans should not drop the team when we experience defeat. It is in such moments that the fans really show loyalty to the team. When I come back the next season I hope that we will be even better by reaching the highest goals.