Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Great News: One step ahead for Eritrean National soccer team.

     In a recent interview on Eritrean Television the ENFF (Eritrean National Football Federation) announced a new coaching staff as well as a new director. The direction in which the ENFF is going seems to be a great one. I have been an advocate of the "Red Sea Boys" as they are known internationally these days, since very early during Eritrea's independence. I am a strong believer that with support and an excellent management style the national team will do just as well as our running and cycling national teams. It is now a fact that Cycling has over taken soccer as the national sport of Eritrea. What baseball is to Cuba or the USA, Cycling is to Eritrea.

     On this day September 22nd, 2015 which also happens to be my birthday I would like to say thank you to one of the best ERITREAN soccer players ever. Henok Goitom is probably the best soccer player of Eritrean descent in a sense that he has achieved more than any other ERITREAN national at home or in the diaspora in his career as a soccer player. He currently leads the Swedish Premier league with 13 goals and seems to be having an incredible season. He is a humble person who has done so much for his community. He should be the example that every Eritrean athlete should emulate. He is a hard worker and a dedicated player who could have easily been selected for the Swedish national team in his younger years. He is still young and very well experienced as he turns 31 on the same day as the blogger, September 22nd, 2015. I am honored to have that connection as I have followed him since his early days.

Henok has announced officially that he plans to be play for ERITREA! Even though thousands and and thousands of Swedish fans who are aware that he could only help the Swedish National Team have been advocating for his presence on the team, the coaches nor the Swedish football federation don't seem like they want him on the team. This is an issue that can be discussed at a later time but does race seem to have anything with it? With only three previous black players Martin Dahlin, Henrik Larsson and a player who was not as good but pioneering for the Swedes Jean Paul Vonderberg who all had half Swedish blood, chances of tarnishing the Swedish national team with an ERITREAN seems a bit far fetched for the Swedes. However, I find this to be a blessing in disguise for ERITREA and the simple fact that the current leading scorer with 15 goals for AIK Stockholm in Sweden's top league has chosen to play for ERITREA instead of Sweden is one step ahead for the ERITREAN national Soccer team.

With the addition of two players playing in Sudan as well as a couple of players from other European teams, the Eritrean national team should take on Botswana in the first round of the 2018 world cup qualifying match next month. While it is difficult to asses how the team will do, the one thing going for ERITREA is that it will have some experience and with the fighting spirit of the local players who seem to be picked from all across the country, chances of a successful attempt to reach the world cup is not too far. As supporters we need to continue to encourage the players as we have done our Cyclists and Runners.

Meanwhile for a player the caliber of Henok Goitom with a great personality, I want to say thank you for all that you have done for the people of ERITREA. Your dad & family whom I have had the honor of speaking in the past have done a great job in instilling the passion that you have for your Country of ERITREA! The pioneering efforts such as wearing a jersey in La Liga with "TIGRINIA" letters and the many times you have donated funds to the ERITREAN martyrs fund will never go in vain. You have made history as a soccer player and as a great human being. You story will go far towards many generations.

Mike Seium

For Eri-International sports blog