By Helen B.,
As we remembered all in 2015, ten of the Eritrean national soccer team deserted after [deliberately] losing the game to team Botswana. Their desertion made short lived headlines indented to undermine the government and the people of Eritrea.
Hence the government and Interior Minister of Botswana valiantly denied them political asylum, convinced that the Eritrean stars were not fearful for their lives and they should return. These players like all other Eritrean national sport stars are exempted from any military services. Botswana government officials saw no legitimate ground to grant them political asylum but allowed them to temporarily stay in the country after appeal was made by the so-called human right group.
In their first interview with radio ERENA since their desertion the former Eritrean soccer players said they are living now in hell with immense depression; in a camp built with metal, unable to tolerate the heat, walks in slipper shoes and most of everything terrified from wild animals who live around the camp they live in. They said they have never experienced such disastrous dejection in their life.
When they were asked by the dismissive jokey interviewer Yonatan Habte aka “Shekortetino” of radio ERENA if they are practicing soccer, they responded dejectedly they see no hope to tap the ball let alone to practice or play the game in highest level. They seem very depressed and deflated, and they are paying the price of their treachery. They turned from national stars to refugee stars living 500 Km away from the city of Botswana.
Bilal (one of the players) unintentionally disclosed the true reason why they left Eritrea. He stated it was to carry out the dreams of their childhood and be super stars, not because they were subjected to forced labor or military services.
One of their major disappoint was they felt they have been let down by the so-called “Justice seekers” Eritreans. Before they left Eritrea the players had in their mind the Eritrean “Justice Seekers” will do everything to help and save them whenever they desert, however, in reality they found things to the contrary. Their desertion was planned by “Justice Seekers” only to make headlines and undermine the nation of Eritrea. Once the desertion and the headlines fulfilled the appetite of “justice seekers”, the players did not hear from them or never had their calls were answered when they needed them again. Little do the players know “justice seekers” are indeed “Attention Seekers” with no address like animals, scattered everywhere, and their real battle fields are radio shows and Paltalks.
To no surprises, not only the attention seekers but even the radio host Shekortetino shows no seriousness about their well-being. In the said radio interview, almost 90% of the time, Yonatan Habte was making jokes and fun of them, asking them what position they played and comparing them with world’s real superstars etc. Yonatan sounds like more he was interviewing them as soccer agent ready to sell them. He showed no sympathy to their torments, dropping jokes after jokes at times laughter on their faces. It was the most pathetic interview made by someone who lucks politics and seriousness. You have to listen to believe.
The indubitably pro Ethiopia radio host Yonatan Habte even thought at once and asked the players if they are willing to go to Ethiopia when and if Ethiopia says it would accepts them? To add to the insults, one of the rock bottoms from his questions was when he asked the players what kind of grain or crops they are eating, to assume and accepts the grain they are rationed as one of the best modernized cultural food and call it “Modern Gaat”?
Even though what the players did to our county was an all time betrayal against the nation, as an Eritrean I felt sad to what they are encountering, and furthermore it upsets me listening the radio host making jokes and belittling the players behind a microphone. Yonatan is just a joke; a person with deceptive laughter acts as he is forever young when in reality he is in his fifties, a person who derides his government and people to keep amused Tigray – Ethiopians, and for the most part a person who do not comprehend desperation and anxiety of those who live in fear near wild animals.
To conclude, last but not the least; the players should never have betrayed their country. Let us not forget also they are responsible for closing the doors to our future want to be soccer stars in Eritrea. Based on their interviews, their dream was to play soccer in the highest level by deserting from the national team. It’s clear now irretrievably this dream has been shattered because of the ill advice they received and the choice they made.
They were only needed by the “Justice seekers” to make the headlines and achieved that, in return what they got is a life full of fear and anxiety, right next to wild animals of Botswana instead of living like stars in their own country, seeping cappuccino and macchiato in the boulevard of Asmara.
At this juncture, their daydream is the dream they had on hand when they were in Eritrea. Nothing is too late or impossible; they can still return with courage, achieve their dream and live as super stars again with their people and in their country. Most importantly they will be less fearful and free from anxiety when they will be eaten or attacked by wild animals, in all-around they won’t be either the laughing stock of Yonatan Habte of radio Erena who lucks seriousness and ridicules everybody behind a microphone.