UNLOCKING THE CHALLENGES OF THE ETHIOPIAN FOOTBALL
YOHANNES GERESELLASIE (Ph.d) ADDIS ABABA
June 10, 2019
Football: The beautiful game as it is popularly called is the most popular and the most widely watched sport in the world. It is also by nature and as a definition a peaceful and descent sport. Everybody anywhere enjoys playing or watching football and every child almost anywhere grows up playing football irrespective of gender, race, religion, culture and tradition. The Ethiopian people just like other people anywhere love playing or watching football and at times, Ethiopians are crazy about football. Ethiopia has a long tradition of playing the game of football; in fact, Ethiopia can be called as one of the pioneers of this game in Africa. One may at this point in time racall that there were great teams in Ethiopia during the fifties and sixties known as St. George, Tidel, Cotton, Cement, Mechal, Tele, Elpa, Airline, etc. They were among the top teams in Ethiopia and even in Africa.
One may also recall Ato Yednekachew Tessema who was a member and founder of the Ethiopian and African Football Federation. He made a huge difference in getting the Ethiopian football to the next level using his football knowledge, skill and football management. What a great accomplishment. Unlike today, Ethiopia, during his time produced great football clubs and great players: All had great competitors within the national and international arena and all those previous teams in Ethiopia were good news to Ethiopia because they contributed to the overall football development of the nation and they were a strong national team who were able to compete with the rest of the African regional and continental teams. They also won two African cups. Currently, different football clubs from across the nation have made it to the premier league and they have been supported by the government through the Ministry of Youth and Sport and have been encouraged by the public at large in order to enhance their performances at the local, national and international football competitions and in order to make them national, regional and international competitors in every way, shape or form. It is simply unfortunate that the level of performance of our current football clubs is way below one can consider and one can imagine and their performances have become an embarrassment both to the government and the public at large. As a result, something has to be done to find out what went wrong over the years and something has to be done to fix it and correct it. Something truly bold and radical action has to be taken in order to come up with the right and sustainable solution. Few days back, the Ethiopian football federation has taken a bold and correct action ending the premier league’s competition for unlimited time due to their and their supporters’ wrong, non-sporting, unhealthy and non-conducive environment regularly created within and outside stadiums by different premier league clubs and their supporters.
I believe with scientific, proper and visionary management, the Ethiopian Football Federation can and must come up with good and sustainable solutions and develop the way forward to improve the already loosing football clubs of our nation. As this point in time, the Federation can also have to be very thankful to those who worked very hard and who gave full services: the coaches, the clubs, the administration staff and most importantly the public at large that gave full support for the development of the Ethiopian football over the years. Bringing back real football to Ethiopia irrespective which part of Ethiopia comes from and which club they belong to as long as they represent Ethiopia has to be and is of a paramount importance at this juncture. Therefore all stakeholders must participate in that regard. We must not discriminate one team or one club from the other. It is true and even quite natural that people support their teams and that is what football is all about; however, when it comes which team gets to the premier league, the pre-requisites, qualifications and standards put forward by the Ethiopian Football Federation and FIFA must be strictly adhered to and respected. We should be very happy and indeed celebrate having one or two of our clubs making it to the premier league each year regardless of which city they come from, however, the main agenda must be to have a solid, strong and disciplined National Football Team that will represent our nation in the international football arena.
In Ethiopia the presence and development of football has been manifested within the larger Ethiopian cities such as Addis Ababa, Diredawa, Mekelle, Baherdar, Jima etc. Ethiopian footballers have by and large arrived from big cities; therefore, they have markedly different socio-economic, cultural and political backgrounds. As a result, they have added colour to the spectrum of groups in Ethiopia, yet little is known about them. Therefore, some questions like the following must be addressed in order to help the Ethiopian Football Federation to evaluate and address the problems encountered and in order to unlock the challenges of the Ethiopian football.
Answering he following questions may help the Ethiopian Football Federation to address some of the challenges encountered.
Ø How and what has been the origin and development of football in Ethiopia? How is it now?
Ø From which parts of Ethiopia did the footballers come and how and why did they leave their towns?
Ø How many footballers actually make it to the national team compared to the number still remaining within their towns?
Ø What are the criteria these players have to meet before being allowed to the national team?
Ø What is the Ethiopian government's position with respect to sport generally and the Ethiopian football specifically?
Ø What are the social, economic and political consequences of football upon the local population?
Ø What are the advantages or disadvantages of developing football in Ethiopia?
Ø Are the footballers here on a permanent or temporary basis and how are they treated?
Ø What is the reaction of the local population toward football and towards Football Federation?
Ø What specific problems do footballers and the federation face in Ethiopia?
These and other similar questions must be answered by the Ethiopian Football Federation in order to come up with practical and sustainable solutions to the languishing football in Ethiopia and in order to examine, investigate and unlock the challenges facing the Ethiopian football and come up with solid, workable and sustainable recommendations and in order to bring lasting solutions to the challenges the Ethiopian Football Federation has been confronted with. Other important issues that the Ethiopian Football Federation must consider are among others the following: The federation has to
1. Identify the challenges facing and confronting the Ethiopian football.
2. Compare the proportion and performance of the Ethiopian football compared to other African football nations.
3. Analyse and evaluate the Ethiopian Government’s football policy.
4. Analyse and evaluate the Ethiopian Football Federation’s policy regarding the Ethiopian Football.
5. Understand the adaptation process of the Ethiopian Football Federation.
6. Identify possible solutions to the challenges confronting the Ethiopian football. And finally,
7. Improve the Ethiopian football involving all stakeholders and others that will be involved in issues of improving the Ethiopian football.
Sport in general and football in particular is an interesting field because it deals not only with individuals, but also their families as well. It provides therefore main understanding of the societal organization of the Ethiopian society. Sport in general and football in particular is an important field of not only to sport experts but also to sport scientists, sociologist, psychologist, economists, health experts, etc.
Sport in general and football in particular has profound and varied effects on individuals and groups. For instance, the sport individual must profoundly change his/her way of life, develop new knowledge and experience of other places and adopt his/her attitude and beliefs. The community that the sport activities are conducted and the community that the footballers go to may be altered permanently. Also, the sport event produces a spatial pattern, a flow from origin to destination, which can be regarded as the effect of sport on the intervening space through which sport occurs and sport takes place within a given structural context and can affect the structure in various ways which may in certain cases lead to the perpetuation of sport as a structure itself. General understanding of the concept of sport including different definitions of sport and the problems encounter while defining such a concept is very important. Sport is one component of cultural change. On the other hand, defining sport is rather complex. In order to place sport into a social context, different factors such as policy, practise, infrastructure, provision of services, space, time, social setting, decision making, mobility, distance etc. must be examined.
Generally, there is a problem of defining sport and football because it is a physical and social transaction, not just unequivocal event. Some fundamental questions regarding football are: why do people do sports? What motivates people to do sport and football? Do people know beforehand where and why they do sport and football? Do people make a logical decision before doing sport or does sport occur spontaneously? Each mainstream of sport produces a compensating counter stream. The decision to do sport is never completely rational, and for some persons, the rational component is much less important than the irrational. We must expect therefore to find many exceptions to our generalization since transient emotions, mental disorder and accidental occurrences account for a considerable proportion of the total sport activity. The process of assimilation or acculturation therefore varies between individuals or groups depending upon the cultural characteristics of the footballers and the host city. It also depends upon the psychological characteristics of individuals.
Generally, Ethiopians love football but the performance of the Ethiopian football players and even the Federation has for a very long time been simply embarrassing least to say. Likewise, the behaviour of some clubs and their followers has also been discomforting least to say. The Ethiopian Football Federation has the responsibility to address all the questions and challenges encountered and come up with tangible solutions sooner than later because football for many Ethiopians can simply be called as the way of life.