Heba Aly is making waves all the way down-under as the Australian senior women's handball coach.
Egyptian women breaking into male-dominated careers is nothing extraordinary, but sports remain a specifically challenging territory to conquer - even a good portion of women's teams are coached by men. That was until Heba Aly, the first Egyptian woman to coach a foreign national team of any sort, came into the picture.
The recently appointed coach of Australia's senior women's handball team kicked off her athletic career in Zamalek Club in the mid-2000s, before moving to Al Ahly at which she stayed until 2007. There, she earned a reputation as one of Egypt's best right wings, and subsequently got her first coaching job at al-Gezeira Club in the UAE (not Zamalek), and she was an instant success.
“We won all national tournaments in the UAE as well as the Arab Championship in 2013,” said Aly to FilGoal. After al-Gezeira, Aly joined another Emirati club as the head coach, Zafra, which became one of the UAE's most successful handball team under her leadership. Then it was time for her big break, Australia's national team, earning herself a spot in history as the first Egyptian to train a foreign national handball team, as well as the first Egyptian woman to ever train a foreign national team in any sport.
Aly is now getting her team all prepped up for her biggest tournament yet, the Asian Cup. “This is our first time taking part in the tournament after Australia joined the Asian teams lately. We had a difficult draw and now we’re playing strong countries like Japan, Kazakistan, New Zealand and Iran. If we hope to advance in the tournament we have to at least beat Japan and Kazakistan,” said Aly.
Main photo: Egypt Independent