Ethiopia: Abera, the Crown Jewel of Ethiopian Football

analysis

Ethiopian Loza Abera had an unforgettable debut season in Malta last year, scoring 30 goals in 14 league matches and a further three in the Super Cup final for her club Birkirkara, champions of the Maltese Women's First Division League.

In her second stint in European football, the 22-year old hoisted herself to the top of the world, getting noticed by all and sundry.

"It was a very good season in Malta and I really enjoyed my football there. It was successful because I scored goals as is required of a striker and I feel I grew one step in football. The experience there was amazing and I can't equate it to anything," Abera told CAFOnline.com

It was another massive step for Abera who grew up dreaming of becoming a footballer from her home town of Durame, South Eastern of Ethiopia.

"I started playing football as a kid. I was interested and attracted to the sport because there was a small football pitch right next to where we lived and occasionally I would go there and join the rest of the guys in playing," Abera explains.

Football wasn't such a big sport in Durame, worse still, for women. There weren't any women's football teams in the area but for her, she still held on to the dream of becoming a professional footballer.

"It was very challenging especially being a girl and not many people believed that a girl could play football. But because of the passion I had and the dream of wanting to play professional football, I pushed hard and continued to fight for a chance and that's why I am here today."

In 2012, at the age of 14, she joined her first professional football team. She signed for Hawassa City, a team situated about 120-km away from her home in Durame. Her talent was unquestionable as in both seasons she played at Hawassa, she was the team's top scorer.

With impressive performances, it was only a matter of time before her talent was spotted and a bigger club came in calling. Under the invitation of coach Asrat Abate, Abera moved to the now defunct Dedebit Ladies where she continued to flourish.

She led the team to the league title in all the four years she was there and finished as the league's top scorer in each of those four seasons.

In 2018, she brought her stint at Dedebit to an end for a brief stint in Sweden with second tier side Kungsbacka DFF before returning home to sign with Adama City midway through the 2018 season.

Her signing proved to be a masterstroke as she aided Adama to their first ever Ethiopian Women's Premier League title, scoring 18 goals and finishing as the top scorer despite joining midway through the campaign.

"I really feel proud and happy because of the success I have had in the Ethiopian Women's League. Those experiences are the ones that have made me grow and relish the challenge of playing at an even bigger stage," Abera states.

Her performances for Adama earned her a move to Malta where she has simply been unstoppable. And now, the striker hopes she can take a step further up after her contract with Birkirkara ended.

"My dream now is to play in the top leagues in the world and I am really relishing a new challenge. I have done well in Malta and picked up experience but I would love to scale up. I have finished my time with Birkirkara and now we will see what next," she states.

She holds a firm belief that Ethiopian women's football has lots of potential, especially noting how they would dominate the East African region several years ago. She believes with better exposure and more players joining ranks abroad, the women's game in the country will improve.

"We need to create a generation of women's football in Ethiopia who can keep women's football high. We have a lot of potential because there are so many good players. We need a more competitive league with better exposure and soon we will be up with the best teams in Africa," a confident oozing Abera remarked.

The Ethiopian national team, fondly referred to as Lucy has qualified for the Women's Africa Cup of Nations three times, with their best performance being in 2004 in South Africa, where they placed fourth after to Ghana on penalties in the third-place match.

Their last participation at the tournament was in 2012 when Abera was just starting off her career and they didn't make it past the group stages, losing two and drawing one of their three matches.

"I believe we can do it and we can show the whole continent that we can get back to our best. The target remains to qualify for the Women's Africa Cup of Nations and I believe with hard work and commitment from everyone, we have what it takes," she notes.

While she casts her eyes on the future for success with Lucy, Abera will be calculating her next career move as she looks to continue scaling the heights of women's football.

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