Robert OdongkaraAddis Ababa, Ethiopia - Branded as the country of the long distance runner, Ethiopia is now becoming the destination for footballers from across Africa.

A new phenomenon is seeing many agencies contact Ethiopian teams selling their prospective players, while Ethiopian footballers continue to travel far and wide seeking employment.

The devoted and passionate fans who support Ethiopia against all the odds are becoming famous throughout the world.

The number of players signed from African countries is increasing all the time.

Miles from the community that knows his voice and the sound of his laughter, far from the rarified air of his birth place Entebbe, Robert Odongkara, 24, is in Addis Ababa following the ball and pursuing his dream – to be on the football field.

Feeling alienated yet excited by the new environment, Robert, the goalkeeper for St. George, transcends all obstacles with his love for the game.

They say that football is more than a game and Robert certainly shares this attitude, believing it has its own distinct values and language.

The St. George fans identify Robert the goalkeeper by his stature, the tall man of 1.92 meters. One cannot fail to notice him.

He also plays for his national team and has been with his club for three years, one of many foreign players who reside here.

The passionate fans know them by name; recognizing them as they walk along the street.

This week at the Kings Hotel around Sarbet, one of the staff excitedly greeted Robert and introduced him proudly to a friend with an affectionate smile. Many of the fans have a sense of belonging to the team, so Robert reacted humbly to the introduction.

The foreign footballers are experiencing the contrast of Ethiopian hospitality, warm welcomes mixed with racist connotations. However, during his three years here Robert has only seen the good side of the Addis Ababans. Read more

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