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October 31, 2017

The world most beautiful game - Football and Ethiopia - Made for each other - Ethiopian Journey - Blog Post no - 20

Ethiopian Kids Playing Football

But the game that all the Ethiopians love is Football. For the slim built Ethiopians, playing football comes naturally. They play with anything including cloth rags rounded up as a ball. They can play football continuously and with great √©lan.  It was a truly fascinating seeing the agility, the body feints and dodges. Football and Africans are made for each other.

Waiting to Get inside 
The passion for football cuts across all demographics like age, class, ethnicity and gender. Ethiopia at that time in 2002 had a magic wand that made it popular with the football crazy Bahirdar residents. Ethiostar had a dish antennae that could beam Super Sports channel. 

EPL, English Premier League
Super Sports has the rights to beam live EPL (English Premiership league) matches. English Premiership League is an England based soccer league that features world class football stars who play for legendary football clubs. EPL is the 4th most watched sports league in the world.  EPL matches are usually played on Saturday, Sunday and sometimes on Thursday.

IPL, Indian Premier League
According to the same post IPL (Indian Premier League) stands sixth in the list of most watched sports leagues in the world. And Indians should be proud of the fact that IPL is only ten years old whereas the other sports leagues have had a head start. If sheer number of people watching the sport on Television is taken as measure, IPL would be head and shoulder above the other leagues.  Millions of viewers watch matches across India and in many other countries. Many leading cricket players from other countries play in IPL and this had generated lot of spectator interest for IPL across the world.

One advantage India has is its population. Only China could have given it a run for its money. But China has wisely opted out of the race. India very soon will have the dubious distinction for being the most populous country in the world.

The per capita income of Ethiopians in 2000 was around three birr/day. That is slightly less than eighteen rupees. But most poor and underprivileged, earned between one and two birr per day. Before we all become teary eyed and sentimental, let us look at hard facts.

Let me work out the math for you. One birr had lot of purchasing power (one birr = 100 santims). For sixty santims one could get an Injira, fifteen santims could buy a Shai and at the end of the day with the 25 santims remaining, one could buy a glass of Talla (a yellow frothy ethnic Ethiopian beer)! Not bad!

So from an Ethiopian view point, a birr is a lot of money. On Saturday and Sunday, the locals come in hordes to Ethiostar. They dress nattily and are in joyous mood. They pay two birr (that is their one day salary) and get into the dining area and settle into the chairs. They patiently wait for an event that they anticipated for an entire week. Then the TV set flicks on and their favourite EPL match comes on - and it is LIVE. They start screaming, hollowing and enjoying themselves. This continues for the entire duration of the match.

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