The recurrent loss of the national football team concerns and embarrasses a huge fan base. Unless structural and strategic changes are made to the country's football sports administration and management, reversing the situation seems to be very difficult.
The Ethiopian national football team, the Walya Antelopes, lost a match to the Black Stars of Ghana, in Kumasi, Ghana, five to zero, which was a humiliating loss for many Ethiopians.
Losing football games on foreign soil is not something unexpected. But with a result such as this one should be questioned and needs to have a satisfactory explanation, even if it does not matter.
Of course, this is not the first time the Ethiopian national team has lost in huge margins. It had even entertained a loss of seven to one with the Algerians. And many more shameful records in the past.
Unlike the athletics that Ethiopians are known for, the Ethiopian football fan base is always embarrassed by the disastrous losses that the national team scores year after year.
That is what happened last week with the Ghanaian team. Many Ethiopians fond of football have been very humiliated and disturbed by the deteriorating performance of the national football team.
But why is the national football team not becoming as good as people expect it, like that of the individuals and teams in the athletics world?
Does it mean Ethiopians are not born for football sport?
Are there not enough facilities to nurture sports skills, and from the grassroots?
Or is it awareness, knowledge, orientation problems in the sector and maladministration? I just cannot understand why there is this much lagging behind.
Obviously, the source of the problem is a combination of all and probably including many other reasons that I cannot see now.
I remember that a university lecturer had tried to relate that the physical anatomy of Ethiopians and the usual kind of food they eat might have an impact on athletics or football. What he was trying to syllogize was that Ethiopians are fit for other sports but not for football.
That seems to hold a grain of truth and suggests that training should start at an early age for children and all parts of the nation. But I still doubt his comment, and I believe that well-substantiated scientific research is needed to understand the situation further. The problem is instead visible in that there is no focus given to the sport to develop it from an early age and at the grassroots level.
I can refer to my own eldest son as an example. He has been given a parental training to coach his children. He is training his son to join the Bremen Team. He is only 13 years old and is deservedly receiving training by his father with peer groups in the same village. That is how a long-term project has to be planned to cultivate children to be professional footballers long before they come of age.
However, the weak administration at the Ethiopian Football Federation (EFF) and its continuous reshuffling habit are creating a problem, not to mention the less sensitive culture to sports.
Probably, the technical committee that selected the new coach, Ashenafi Bekele, has to be evaluated as per its criterion for rejecting other candidates and picking him, a man who does not seem to live up to his name.
Some could still argue that it is not the selection of Ashenafi to coach the team that brought the devastating loss but the delay in his assignment that did.
Whichever way, the team lost the game, and that was a big failure. It indeed backfired well and undermined the confidence of the youth in the football sport.
For a country that has many glories, this is a shame.
The country needs to make a structural change in the way it administers the football sport and cultural orientations towards the field in general. It must avoid corruption, attract more professionals and set long-term goals supported by a sports knowledge and improved skills and tactics. The grassroots development task should get priority and should cover all parts of Ethiopia. Sport is not only about winning. It is also about the economy and tourism. It is about developing confidence and health as well.
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