Sports tourism is a growing sector in Ethiopia. Together with our partner Run Africa, we have an exciting project that enables promising elite runners to combine a professional sports career with a job in sports tourism.
Run Africa was established in 2013 to offer runners from all over the world the opportunity to train with professional Ethiopian runners, while exploring the beautiful landscape and learning the secret of fostering generations of merited and legendary runners from Ethiopia. This package turned out to be very attractive and in high demand among tourists, and as a result Run Africa Athletics Sports Club was established in 2016. The club is for active and talented runners, and the idea is to give them professional running training combined with building skills and getting an income from Run Africa’s tourism packages. This enables the runners to get the necessary training to become successful elite runners, and skills to get a job and the opportunity to live decent lives upon ending their sports careers.
Partnership for Change has partnered with Run Africa to run a project with the objective to develop the sports club to become a platform for positive social development and competence building for Run Africa’s runners. In total, 60 runners, 30 women and 30 men, are participating in this project that consists of the following main components:
- Salary to provide a highly aclaimed professional coach
- Transport for the runners to their training arenas
- English language training
- Computer training
- A two-day workshop for all runners to raise awareness on gender and gender-related issues
In addition, PfC has granted Run Africa loans to buy a car. The car is used for transport of runners and tourists. In collaboration with another of PfC’s Ethiopian partners, Tebita Ambulance, the runners receive first aid training. Run Africa also collaborates with another PfC partner, Siiqqee. Siiqqee assists with life skills training for the runners.
The majority of Ethiopian elite runners come from poor, rural areas. Many are school dropouts who move to Addis Ababa at a young age to pursue their dreams to become professional runners. However, with a low education level and coming from poor families, many end up not having the means to fund their sports career. They cannot afford essentials such as a professional coach, healthy food, running shoes and other equipment necessary to make it to the top. Financial challenges forces many to give up on their dreams, and female athletes in particular often become dependent on men to make it from day to day, making them vulnerable to abuse. Those who for any reason have to give up on their sports careers, very often get poorly paid jobs with very little chance of becoming economically independent and living decent lives.
However, through Run Africa’s programme, talented runners are not only provided optimal training conditions, but also obtain skills making them attractive employees in Ethiopia’s growing tourism industry.