By Haileegziabher Adhanom
Loza Abera, a young multi-disciplined, great goal scorer and team player. One of Ethiopia’s hot guns in women’s football and also a second year student of Business Administration.
She was a joint top scorer in the African zone 2016 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup Qualifiers with 6 goals – Ethiopia lost the final qualifying match to Ghana.
The 20-year old has also been top scorer in Ethiopian Women’s Premier League for the past two seasons with 57 and 33 goals respectively, leading her club side Dedebit FC to two consecutive league titles.
Ladies March (LM) had a special access to sit down one on one with this humble and amazingly talented Ethiopian women’s football superstar through its Ethiopian contributor Haileegziabher Adhanom.
LM: Congratulations to you and your team on defending your title, how did you guys do it?
Loza: Thank you very much! It was really a big challenge, a tough season, since we were the champions, every team gave its utmost performance when they played with us. But thanks to our incredible team work both on and off the pitch we did it again.
LM: How did you manage to score a lot of goals in two seasons? Did the goals come easily?
Loza: Since I am playing as a forward, it is my responsibility to score as many goals as possible and help my team win matches and trophies. But scoring more than 100 goals in two seasons is never easy.
LM: After scoring more than 50 goals last season one would have thought you would better it this season, are you disappointed in that regard?
Loza: Yes! I have some regrets, because I wished to better my 57 goals per season record myself. But due to many reasons such as the decreasing of participating teams from 11 to 9, that obviously decreased the number of matches, the improvement of the rival teams specially this season and my own problem of wasting some scoring chances have played their roles to restrict my tally to 33 goals this season.
LM: What would you attribute your goal scoring prowess to?
Loza: I will attribute it to my strong mentality, the belief I have on myself played a big role on my scoring prowess.
LM: Could you tell us how you started football and what the journey has been like?
Loza: I start playing football in my early years, thanks to the availability of a football field near my village.
LM: Have you always been a forward?
Loza: both No and Yes, before I joined professional women’s football clubs, while playing with girls and boys, I used to play in any positions from goalkeeper to striker. But after starting my professional career I never played in any position than forward.
LM: Are you still in school, if Yes, how do you combine studies and football?
Loza: Yes, I am 2nd Year Business Administration student at Addis Ababa University college of Commerce. And it is one of the challenges that I am still facing, it’s known, both disciplines need your full attentions but I am still managing to do both with commitment and planning.
LM: Do your parents support you as a footballer?
Loza: At the beginning they were totally against it, because football at that time in my country is not seen as a serious business, they think that it was just waste of time by chasing the ball from here to there. But gradually after seeing my sentiment to football and success, they are now supporting me by all means.
LM: Who are your role models in football, male and female?
Loza: I never grew up idolizing someone, but I like the former FIFA women’s player of the year Marta from Brazil.
LM: How do you see women’s football in Ethiopia?
Loza: I believe there is always a room for improvement, for example the level of attention for women’s football in Ethiopia must be improved from club owners, the media, the federation and the fans. But I can say that there is a little improvement comparing from the past in all aspects.
LM: What are your future hopes and aspirations as a footballer?
Loza: My greatest wish is always to play on an international level, and I have always dedicated myself to achieving those dreams. But unfortunately such things never come easily, even though you have all the necessary skills or talents, you need to get to someone who have connections for such leagues or clubs to see you.
LM: If you hope to play abroad, do you have any team in mind?
Loza: I wish to play for any women’s football team in Europe or the US. That is because the level of women’s football on these areas are very competitive, and I want to give myself such a challenge and I hope I will make it since I am doing a good job right now.
LM: At 20, what would you say you have achieved through football?
Loza: I am now the top scorer in the league for the past two consecutive seasons, and playing for both U-20 and senior women’s national teams, I am really happy for achieving those things at my early age, but I believe that it is still just the beginning because I have so many aspirations in my career.
Additional reporting by Chibuogwu Nnadiegbulam