Epic Performance By Canadian Women Sees First Major Medal Since 1999
It was a historic performance from the Canadian National Women’s Team this past week in Greenland as the Reds battled all the way to the very end of the North American and Caribbean Handball Championship match to earn a silver medal. It is the first medal for the women’s national team in 24 years and a promise of a bright future.
Not many observers touted Canada to finish in a podium spot, let alone make it to the gold medal match, but the relentless tenacity of the girls showcased why they’re now a force to be reckoned with.
Big victories against the United States (26-11), Mexico (32-25), and Cuba (27-24) during the group stage setup a final against a heavily favoured Greenland side that were playing in front of a sold out home crowd that was absolutely electric all week long at the Inussivik Arena in Nuuk.
It was an instant classic with each team going back and forth vying to lift the title. Greenland were slightly better in the opening frame, taking a 9-6 at halftime. But Head Coach Nathalie Brochu made the right adjustments during the break which led to Canada storming out to a 5-1 run in the first seven minutes of the half to take an 11-10 lead. Canada continued their strong play and brought it to 15-14 but some rock solid defending from Greenland allowed them to eventually retake the lead before scoring the insurance goal with 19 seconds left to win 17-15. With the victory, Greenland have earned a spot at the upcoming IHF World Championships in Scandinavia later this year. Canada is the 1st reserve for the competition.
Making the silver medal achievement even more remarkable is that the Canadian women self-funded their entire trip, with no financial assistance whatsoever from neither the national handball federation or federal government. It is a huge sacrifice that shows the tremendous commitment to excellence by everyone on the team. The strong leadership of Brochu and the rest of the team staff were absolutely integral to the squad’s success as was the unbridled dedication and support from the families and friends.
Three Canadians were named to the tournament all star team including star goalkeeper Vassilia Gagnon whose remarkable performances in goal made her the easy selection in this position. Left back Myriam Zimmer was simply on fire throughout the competition scoring 22 goals in five matches, while Maksi Pallas was a pivotal player in every match and after contributing 16 goals was selected as the top right winger of the competition.
Next up is the 2023 Pan American Games in Santiago, Chile as earlier this year the girls eliminated the United States to qualify for the tournament. It is the third consecutive time the team has qualified for the Pan Ams. The tournament is the regional qualifier for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. To support the girls on their Olympic mission please consider donating on their official channel
2023 NACHC TOURNAMENT ALL STAR TEAM AND AWARDS
- Goalkeeper: Vassilia Gagnon (Canada)
- Left Wing: Andrea Heilmann (Greenland)
- Left Back: Myriam Zimmer (Canada)
- Center Back: Najaaja Lyberth (Greenland)
- Right Back: Rosa Armenteros (Cuba)
- Right Wing: Maksi Pallas (Canada)
- Pivot: Arisleidy Herrera (Cuba)
- MVP: Ivalu Bjerge (Greenland)
- Leading Scorer: Gemma Burris (Mexico) (34 goals)