The German national Matthias Frosch, 30, was in Ethiopia until last week to give football training courses for refugees in three centres: Tigray, Gambella and Assosa. He was sent to Ethiopia by the German Olympique Sports Federation, DOSB. This was long term cooperation program between the Ethiopian Football Federation and the German Olympique Sports Federation. Matthias Frosch studied sports specializing football and sports medicine in addition to coaching licence from the German federation.
Matthias Frosch has sat down The Ethiopian Herald Sports writer Solomon Bekele to discuss about his mission in Ethiopia. Below are excerpts:
Herald Sports: let us start with your mission.
Matthias Frosch: The German Olympique Sports Federation has good relationship with the EFF long before I came here. We know that there are lots of refugees in Ethiopia. Ethiopia as a host nation received thousands of refugees from neighbouring countries such as South Sudan, Somalia and Eritrea. There are refugees even from Rwanda and Mali. These refugees stay in different centres in the country. They are there until they get another host nation for permanent settlement. For refugees staying in a camp for long is monotonous and frustrating. So the DOSB drew a project to engage them in sports activities.
HS: How did you carry out your mission?
Matthias Frosch: The first two courses were given in Assosa and Gambella. The other course in 7 days was given in Shire, Tigray region. The refugee camps are out of Shire town so that we drive one or one and half hours to reach the camps.
HS: Where is the camp for Somalia refugees?
Matthias Frosch: I was not engaged in the Eastern part of the country in this trip. For Somalia refugees the course will be given in mid December.
HS: Did you get a good number of participants?
Matthias Frosch: O! Ya. These are young people who want to enjoy playing football. The course is not strictly focus on theoretical issues. We give them time for entertainment.
HS: How was their reception?
Matthias Frosch: Well, at the initial stage they were critical. When they realize that we speak the same language we develop good relation and they enthusiastically follow what we teach them. Don’t forget that this is not a normal course. It is a special one.
HS: when you say special course
Matthias Frosch: You know we take the camp as one wide community. We teach them how to establish the league system and run competition within that camp for some time. They become very active for long.
HS: What is the reaction of the community in the area?
Matthias Frosch: At the initial stage they are distrustful but after some time they enjoy it. We also organize similar courses for the community. Not only that, we also provide playing materials like ball both to the community and the refugees.
Do you think you are fruitful by what you did?
Matthias Frosch: Yes. The primary purpose of this course is to communicate the community with the refugees. In other words through football we managed to connect the refugees with the Ethiopian community. This creates people to people relation. One is not becoming hostile to the other.
HS: Were you a player during your young age?
Matthias Frosch: I played football as midfielder but not in the German Bundesliga.
HS: Did you watch the Ethiopian top flight match while you were in Addis?
Matthias Frosch: Yes I watched when Coffee played. The fans are quite good. The spirit is very encouraging but you need to work hard to reach the world standard.
HS: Is this your first time to come to Ethiopia? If so what is your reaction?
Matthias Frosch: Yes this was my first trip to Ethiopia. When I came here first I saw the cultural difference between Ethiopians and Germans. For Ethiopians it is easy to interact with other people. You invite people to take coffee or tea even if you don’t know him. You simply chat with any one but in Germany we don’t have this kind of openness.
HS: If you have anything to add
Matthias Frosch: Teaching refugees is a good investment on people. I like to thank the Ethiopian government for receiving many refugees. This is an act of helping human beings. What we did in Germany is the same. My trip to Ethiopia, I think, will help keep the good relation between the two countries.