To quote the great song by legendary Tesfai Mehari "Awet Qalsina Bdemna" The struggle to develop our nation be it in sports, education, health, food security and diplomacy continues to be at the forefront of the growing process our nation. A clear indication was when in a short turn around the 5th ever CECAFA under 20 event was hosted for the first time ever in Eritrea very successfully. All the way from the opening ceremony until the very moment when the Ugandans took the big prize away from Eritrea it was full of action and sportsmanship. At the end of the event "Victory" is still Eritrea's.
Witnessing the finalists the Cranes of Uganda accepting their awards during the ceremony one picture that can be a vivid reminder in the memory of thousands of fans and television audiences was when the youngsters from Uganda draped the ever beautiful Eritrean Flag around them in show of their admiration for a nation that prides itself as peaceful, friendly and one that works hard. The nation of Eritrea showed it's "determination and sophistication" by hosting a successful championship is how a leading East African news paper put it. While many fans and Eritrean soccer enthusiasts feel that the Eritrean Red Sea Camels should have put the game away during the regular time, the most electrifying moment of the game came in extra time. Eritrea was down 1-0 by a mistaken own goal and with the clock ticking away and less than 30 seconds remaining in the game the boys from Eritrea put the ball in the back of the net sending the jam packed entire stadium into an euphoria that has never been witnessed before. Then came the dreading penalty kicks to decide who will be champions. It was Eritrea 4 and Uganda 5 as the Red Sea Camels exciting run came to an end.
Despite the loss on the field however Eritrea and it's people should be proud of an accomplishment that was top notch. Once again Eritrea proved that it is a nation to be reckoned with. It showed that it is an oasis of hope, prosperity and development. The Eritrean spirit of can do continues and the Red Sea Camels did not disappoint us either. On the field and off the field Eritrea shined. Eri-International sports will recommend ideas below and those interested can discuss it share it and share their ideas on how best to help improve the national team or any other ideas that can enhance future events that Eritrea will be hosting.
1. While we are proud of our under 20 team which will soon be our national team why not get a couple of players from outside the country that may be able to add some strength up front. One thing Eritrea lacked was scoring and by adding a couple of forwards who have the ability to perform at a high level, the Eritrean team can benefit even more. I don't know what the Swedish national team has in store for the great Eritrean scoring machine Henok Goitom but if they give him the run around, I don't see why he can't play for Eritrea as he can have dual citizenship. By adding Henok and a couple of the older players from the adult team and using a nucleus of the under 20 team, Eritrea can have a great opportunity to make it to the 2014 African nations cup and qualifying round to the world cup as it has withdrew for the 2012 African nations cup.
2. While I am strongly aware of the manpower that requires to cover a sporting event ERI-TV did a great job with what they have. Analysis of games were excellent but update of scores would have fans all over the world tuned in. Even a scroll with a little graphics would be helpful at the end of each game. May be outsourcing the media coverage and reaping the benefits via commercials and sponsors could be one way of doing it. You can have ERI-TV lead the logistics so that it maintains it's authentic Eritrean flavor.
3. I think an international tournament of Eritrean Diaspora from Europe, Middle east, USA, Canada and Asia & Oceania countries can be held in Eritrea. It can give an opportunity for players to show their ability and in the process be selected to the national team if they have what it takes.
4. The ENFF (Eritrean National Football Federation) must market itself more. Eritrean national team jersey's would sell like a hot potato. Other items that bring fans and the team together can also be ready made for sale and the ENFF has to have copyrights and in the process create an opportunity for regular income.
5. The Eritrean national team must continue to play friendly games. Uganda and Kenya have travelled to Europe and other African nations to play friendly and Eritrea has also proven that it can host games. Why not have some top notch clubs from around the world come and play against the national teams while also preparing games that can be exciting between two top teams.
6. A training center must be built and until then, the Eritrean teams (U-17, U-20, & the adult teams including women) should use the good facilities of other friendly nations to train. Like the under 17 team that went to Qatar three years ago to train and play the Qatari under 17 which our boys won 2-0.
As an avid follower of the game of soccer and a sports journalist for many years who also happened to follow the Eritrean national team in particular since it's first appearance in the CECAFA tournament in 1994 when coach Negash Teklit was a player, I have to say that it gives me great pride to know that the future is bright for Eritrea. I am working on a project that would be of interest to all Eritreans. We must document and understand our past history in order to march forward and let our new generation know that this country of ours has so much history with the beautiful game of soccer. Congratulations to the entire ENFF, ERI-TV, The Eritrean Government, CECAFA and Africa for a great regional event that has brought Friendship and development, love and togetherness to the entire region. I also would like to congratulate the Eritrean national team for making us proud. It was great to see you all get rewarded by the Eritrean President for your efforts.
Eri-International sports will post an interview with Golgol Meberhatu on our next blog. As most of you know Golgol plays for the Australian A-League and he started his season with "God Coast United" against the "Melbourne Victory" where his team lost 1-0 this weekend but the great news is that Golgol got a lot of playing time in his first start after an injury last year and also making the move to A-League from the youth league. Meanwhile Henok Goitom's Almeria also started their La liga season this past week. Henok did not see action but his team tied their first game 0-0 against Osasuna. We shall follow the developments throughout the season and keep you informed. After all is said and done the "Victory is Eritrea's" so enjoy it cherish it and stay tuned.
For Eri-International Sports blog