Nojialem Myaro, TFC mental coach, former handball player

Today, Nojialem Myaro, the psychology coach at the TFC team, is also the president of the Women’s Handball League (LFH). A former professional player, she led an international career with France in the 2000s, leading her to the top of the World Cups.

Handball Nojialem Myaro
Nojialem Myaro has been a mental coach at TFC for over a year © Baptiste Fernandez – Icon Sport

At 45, Nogialem Myaro has a lot of hats: she has been working with the men’s professional team of Toulouse Football Club (TFC) since last season, she also leads the women’s handball league and works as a psychologist.

Originally from Chad, Nodgialem Myaro and her family settled in the Rainy district of Toulouse when she was two years old. Her passion for handball emerged from childhood, leading her to join Toulouse Cheminots Marengo Sports (now Toulouse Féminin Handball) at the age of 14. “At the time, I didn’t really set out to turn pro. I just wanted to play with my teammates and enjoy it,” she says. But fate decreed otherwise.

World handball champion in Toulouse.

Her technical and physical qualities lead the teenager to shoulder to shoulder with the benches of the France Espoirs team during internships. “I could not take part in official competitions with the junior team, because I did not have French documents yet. It caused me some frustration,” the young woman explains. But that feeling faded in 1996, the year of his coming of age, his naturalization and his first selection for the French national team. A joy for a young woman who has also just signed a contract, who was pushed by the national coach and Messina coach Olivier Krumbholtz, with ASPTT Metz.

“The silver medal of the 1999 Handball World Championship has a special flavor”

A few months after joining the French national team, Nogialem Myaro and her teammates won the Mediterranean Games. The first award among many subsequent ones. But what the player will always have in mind remains “the most silver medal at the 1999 World Championships. Has a taste special because it was my first world medal. Moreover, no one expected this. We just won game after game and ended up on the podium,” she recalls. Four years later, the French team has climbed another step up and wins the world championship. “This one, we really fought to get it,” the young woman admits.

But that beautiful era is over. Nojialem Myaro ended his sports career in 2013 “to focus on his personal life” and has not touched handball for many years. “I have never felt a lack of competition. Ending my career was a balanced decision that allowed me to regret nothing later, ”she says.

From Player to President of the Women’s Handball League

After the death of Patricia Saurina, then president of the Women’s Handball League (LFH), the ex-player was offered the head of the federation. “It was a big surprise since I never asked for it. Especially since I decided to take some time for myself. But I thought a lot, I asked myself if I could take on this challenge, and I threw myself into it, ”admits the one who has been in this position for nine years.

“The more coverage of a sport, the more attractive it is”

From the beginning of her playing career and now the League President, Nojialem Myaro has been a strong advocate for women’s sports. “Even if it decreases over the years, there is still too much visibility gap between men’s and women’s sports. Athletes need strong support from all the players in the world of sports to stand out. Because the more coverage of a sport, the more attractive it is and attracts new participants. Personally, I really want to convey to them the desire to play handball,” she adds.

Her actions and commitment led her a year ago to to be named “Chevalier of the National Order of Merit of the Ministry of National Education, Youth and Sports.. “Besides, I have to organize the medal ceremony. I had to do a joint event with Olivier Krambholz, who was also awarded. But with the Olympics and Covid-19, we couldn’t,” she smiles. However, she would have preferred to receive the award with her team, “in 2003, after the World Cup,” she continues, as did the French men’s handball team.

Handball Nojialem Myaro
Nojialem Mjaro was named a National Order of Merit Officer for her participation in women’s handball © Antoine Breard

Nojialem Myaro combines two passions

Since the beginning of her sports career, a handball player combined two professional careers: handball and psychology, which she made her profession. “I always wanted to work in the field of human relations. Basically, I wanted to become a lawyer, but it was too difficult. So I turned to psychology to help people and found my way. In addition, the Faculty of Psychology and Clinical Medicine at the University of Metz allowed me to study in parallel. The days were busy, but I was lucky to combine my two passions, ”she admits.

Nojialem Myaro started studying psychology in 2005 when she played in Le Havre. It was at the Community Center for Social Action (CCAS), which helped women reintegrate into society after their release from prison, that she got her first experience. She then continued her professional activities throughout her club selection: in Réunion, where she worked with childhood obesity, or in Nice with young children in difficult conditions. At the same time, she provided psychological support for athletes undergoing rehabilitation at Creps de Boulouris, in the Var.

Back in Toulouse, she continues her career as a freelance psychologist. But the world of sports is always close to his activities. Indeed, since last season, she has also been responsible for the psychological preparation of the professional players of Toulouse Football Club. His mission is to support the players, as well as the staff, on a psychological level. She is working on improving team cohesion, as well as individual work with sessions that are specific to each player.

“Mental and physical fitness are linked,” according to Nojialem Myaro.

“Physical preparation of an athlete: this is the foundation. He is asked to have an athletic build and display his technical qualities at the highest level. Psychological preparation complements. This creates a balance that allows athletes to reach their full potential during the competition,” explains the former handball player.

“We missed the psychological preparation during the Olympic Games”

When she was a professional player, the system of psychological preparation of athletes was far from what exists today. “We had several interventions from psychologists. But there is no team-specific psychological coach. It’s also something we missed out on at the Olympics,” she laments, referring to Sydney in 2000, where the French finished sixth, or Athens in 2004, where the team finished first on the podium.

“The Olympic Games are special, symbolic and widely publicized competitions. All athletes dream of winning them, which adds extra pressure. In addition, we must remain focused on competition in an environment that is in full swing. And all this while trying to get as little pleasure as possible from what is happening. It is psychologically very difficult. So I don’t know if psychological support would have helped us win a medal, but in any case, it would have allowed us to come out less psychologically traumatized by defeat and the stress of the competition.”