እግር ኳስ ፣ አትሌቲክስ ...
Soccer, Premier league, Athletics...
Soccer, Premier league, Athletics...
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The Ethiopian women national football team (Lucy
As a young girl who grew up under magnanimous care and freedom, Bizuhan Endale enjoyed having her family around. She cherished the time she had with them and the warmth they gave her, until she reached a point where she came head to head with societal values and accepted norms.
Bizuhan was not your typical girl. Her heart was in another place; she was made to run off with the boys in her neighborhood, to the football fields with the boys in her neighborhood and play all day long. Soon she was to be immersed in her football obsession, a game that is believed to have driven millions crazy. She was smacked in the head, pinched, and scolded many times for her love of the game but never once thought about quitting, which created a serious dispute with her parents.
“Thanks to my older brother who supported me, after the sudden death of my father, my mom started to see and then accepted my passion for soccer,” she says.
Cutting your hair in a short, matuta style, wearing fashionably shredded pants, and looking like a body builder is what has been long thought revealing of sportswomen, particularly that of women footballers in Ethiopia. For deviating from what is considered to be normal behavior for young girls in Ethiopia, women football players face social problems in their day-to-day lives. Men, elder members of society, and parents in all social strata were vehemently disrespectful to young women footballers for various reasons. Traditional thinking, lack of awareness and poor sporting facilities remain the most critical challenges to women football players in Ethiopia. These factors impacted the sport for years, to some extent this very sport remains one of the classical sectors where gender inequality is stifled in the country.
Despite various historical accounts revealing the country’s ancient civilization in art, architecture, trade and governance, attaching the right value to women and their role in all of these was lagging far behind. Although the country had woman parliamentarians, artists, patriots and others in the past, the sport sector did not witness a female heroine until the likes of Derartu Tulu, who stood out at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, winning a gold medal in the 10000m. race. This historic victory, although she was not the first woman to participate in the Olympic games, made her the first black African woman to win an Olympic gold medal in a long distance race. Her immense contribution in inspiring women to participate in sports also makes her a symbolic figure in the country. This huge impact has long taken root in her winning cousins, the Dibaba sisters, Terunesh Dibaba and Genzebe Dibaba.
Nonetheless, Ethiopia's football is nowhere near the achievements of its athletics, both in the men and women categories. A country that founded the African Cup of Nations (CAF) along with Egypt and Sudan in 1957 is still struggling to find a top-ten spot in continental tournaments. Nevertheless, the recent triumph that saw the country back in its place in the African Cup of Nations, after thirty-one years of absence, enormously motivated the general public. As a result, the Ethiopian Football Federation took an aggressive step to develop both men’s and women’s football in the country. Part of this was to commission a stronger female national football league known as the Women’s Premier League. “This is the time that proudly witnesses our struggle,” Bizuhan reflects.
Being a captain of the National Women Football Team, nicknamed “Lucy” in reference to the Australopithecus fossil discovered in the Afar regional State in 1974 by Donald C. Johnson, the national team gave Bizuhan the opportunity to live her childhood dream; the dream of being a famous woman footballer. Captain of her club side, Commercial Bank Women Football Club, and still maintaining her position in the national team, she plays an important role in mentoring youngsters. In fact, the history of women’s soccer in Ethiopia dates back to the seventies as there were several amateur clubs playing at the time. Including the then most popular, Etu mela michi, roughly translated as a woman of solutions, few governmental and public organizations had women’s football teams in the capital championship.
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