I have been one of the strongest advocates of the Eritrean national soccer teams at all levels and I sometimes tend to be a little bit ahead of myself with expectations that our soccer teams will advance and make it to an African or International tournament event. It is with this in mind that I write this blog to get moral support and material support for the national teams back home. If we see the short history of Eritrea in the international stage it is not so bad considering that we have already made it to the under 17 African nations cup as well as many games where we have surprised tough opponents such as Nigeria, Cameroon, and Egypt by playing tough games.
It is very clear that the obstacles to Eritrea's success seem to be countries in Africa that have far exceeded their potential and have become not only African power houses but internationally recognized teams. Eritrea can take a short cut and capitalize by working hard and strategizing on how best to beat the teams that have been very challenging to it the international power houses who take the growth of the game in their respective countries very seriously.A soccer academy is well needed to nurture the many great talents that come out of Eritrea. I also strongly believe that any Eritrean national be it in the diaspora or from within the nation should be given a mechanism to be able to try out for the national team. As a matter of fact a foreign office that can accommodate that within the Eritrean sports/Soccer federation should be created. I personally believe that some players from Team Norway this past year at the Eritrean sports festival in North America as well as many others including players who play in different universities and colleges as well as from other parts of the world should be worthy of looking at. First it makes the competition better and the players who truly are skilled will be able to prove their ability.
In any case I would like to say to the leadership of the Eritrean soccer federation in Asmara that I salute you for doing a great job despite all obstacles. The fact that the under 17 are getting more attention clearly indicates that Eritrea is headed in the right direction. Like everything else in the nation it is best to start from down and progress. I also would like to share that the office of his excellency President Issias Afwerki has initiated a SPORTAW MEKETE by appointing National Sports Board comprising ministers and senior government officials that would strive to introduce a popular sport system with the active participation of the public. "The Board would streamline a new organizational structure for greater work performance and mission through studying and revising the hitherto existing organizational system and structure regarding sports in the nation."
The fact that Eritrea now has players playing overseas even though it may be in such nations as Yemen, Uganda and other middle eastern nations, it is still a big plus in the big picture. As regional partnerships are becoming the way to success for African nations with the exception of those who want to stay behind, the 2009 version of CECAFA tournament coming up at the end of this month from Uganda, can be a litmus test for our young Red Sea boys being inter mixed with the older players to get some experience and in the process also help win a championship for Eritrea. The Camels as they are known will first play Djibouti, and my feeling is that it will be a good game between the two brotherly people of the horn. Here below is the schedule for the 2009 CECAFA tournament and start date is the end of December.
31.12.2008 CECAFA Cup 2008 - 1. Round
Eritrea-Djibouti Jinja - Bugembe Stadium
Sudan-Kenya Jinja - Bugembe Stadium JANUARY 2009 01.01.2009 CECAFA Cup 2008 - 1. Round
Uganda-Rwanda Kampala - Namboole Nelson Mandela Stadium Zanzibar-Somalia Kampala - Namboole Nelson Mandela Stadium 02.01.2009 CECAFA Cup 2008 - 1. Round
Burundi-Djibouti TBD Eritrea-Kenya TBD 03.01.2009 CECAFA Cup 2008 - 1. Round
Somalia-Tanzania Kampala - Nakivubo Stadium Uganda-Zanzibar Kampala - Nakivubo Stadium
As always good luck goes to our Senior team and with Elias Debessay playing his professional career in Uganda, we hope that Eritrea will be able to get some local support from his fans.