“Why do we learn?” It is a question his university professor asked. To be confident, is the answer that stuck in his head and made every sense for him to pursue his educational goal while relentlessly working to become a good soccer player. Daniel Yohannes, realized his childhood dream of becoming one of the famous soccer players of his time and got his B.A. Degree in Environmental Science. He did much further than what he had thought of himself when he became a coach to one of the greatest soccer teams of the country, Red-Sea, at such a young age and was able to win multiple trophies.
We have here with us, Daniel, the technical director of the Eritrean Football Federation.
- It is a pleasure to have you with us, tell us something about you?
Growing up in a neighborhood so close to the soccer stadium and Asmara University has shaped my life style since a young age. I was born and raised in Asmara, Embagaliano. Given my environment, I was taught to be confident and freely decide in matters that I thought were useful to me by my father. My father never objected to my soccer hobbies, especially since I was thriving as a student as well. I was mostly the kid with our many friends. I was motivated more to be good in my studies after I joined Santa’ana Secondary School. It was a school students with high marks went to, which definitely made my understanding of education much deeper.
Additionally, I joined Asmara University and the 2nd division soccer team at the same time in 1991. Also, to my surprise, I passed my semester examination and I was also chosen to be a member of the national team at the same time. I continued to study and play soccer and finally got my degree in Soil and Water conservation in Environmental science. I worked within the filed after I graduated for eight years until I decided to give my soccer career a full attention.
- The teams you have played for?
1991 was a year when numerous soccer teams were being formed. So, I became a member of a 2nd division team, Beilul. Our team was promoted to the 1st division level in just six months. Soon after, I was selected to become a National Team member which came in as a shock to me. It was a team which was made up of skilled and experienced players. I was only 19 and was just starting to get my ways around the new team I was part of. Although it was all sudden for me, it was a great experience.
- Why did you decide to get international courses?
It had a little to do with people’s recommendations besides my interest. The ideas I shared with some coaches and technical advisors showed that I had potential. Even though I was young to join the profession, I was recommended that I could do well and I was given a chance to become a technical advisor. People thought that I was too young and that I wouldn’t be competent for the job. I started as a volunteer. In 2006, I got a chance to attend a course in technical directing in Morocco. The endorsements I got after completing my course totally changed the perspectives of the people who thought I was too young to do the job properly.
Since then, I have taken different international courses regarding technicalities including the latest CAF instructor course. I also conduct local coaching courses and I am a CAF elite instructor.
- How did you get to coaching?
Coaching has a multi-dynamic principle; it is not only about training a player or being a leader. You have to consider a lot of things. A good coach has to be a good communicator, has to have good managing skills including emotion management skills. Even the slightest conflict with the team can lead to unwanted loss which by the way only the coach is responsible for. That is why I said a lot of things are required from a good coach.
It was Coach Brhane Rezene who encouraged me and gave me his thoughts that I could do a lot more outside of the office. I became a technical advisor without becoming a coach first. It is supposed to be the other way around. Again, I was able to coach a 2nd division soccer team, Akria. I tried to invest everything that I had learned during my course and from my previous experience with the team. I have implemented the game formation of 4-2-3-1 for the first time. Akria was promoted to the 1st division and had accomplished so much in the 1st division as well.
Later, I was selected to coach one of the best teams of the country, Red-sea. Again, I had the idea of not being the best coach for the team. At the time, the team hadn’t won a trophy for three years, which was unbearable for the team. During my two years of stay with the team, we have won seven of the titles out of eight which put the team right at the top.
Again, when FIFA wanted to assign a full time technical director here, I applied, and I became the technical director of the Eritrean Football Federation for almost seven years now.
- You were the national team technical advisor in CECAFA 2010…
We went to the CECAFA games after eight years. We lost our first game not because we were any less than the other teams, but we didn’t know the ways of the game. It was just an ambition that took us there. Fixing our game style after the first game, we became dominant contenders and we were at the semi-finals. We lost through an obvious mistake of the line man. It is not an easy thing that we got to the penalty shootout. The Media commented saying that a dangerous team was created in the horn of Africa.
- As a technical director for the Eritrean Football Federation…
If one has the hobby of soccer and talent, soccer life becomes linked in every way. When I was a player I started to think about coaching, and when I got to coaching I started to think about much bigger things that can be helpful to develop the country’s level of soccer. Coaching is a short term plan, playing is a daily activity. Directing is serious. After the appointment of my technical director position, we have proposed numerous projects such as grassroots. Although it has been almost five years we cannot say we have made great progress. However, we have at least been able to raise the society’s awareness on what grassroots are how important it is to train young kids. The ratio of coaches to the number of trainees is small that we haven’t made the needed progress.
Also, we have just started the soccer clinic for the female soccer players. This specific field deals with intensive training besides taking career courses for the females. This is expected to bring out the best and massively help them in their lives. There is also a plan in organizing team games to enhance the female soccer teams.
- May we talk about your personal life?
Yes please. I have been married to Eng. Sara Abrahaley for ten years. I am a lucky man as I have found the most understanding woman who has blessed me with beautiful kids. At a time when selfishness has become the reason people live, I have a wife who sees my mistakes positively and accepts me for who I am with love.
- Anything else you want to add.
I think it is time to support soccer with education. We have to relentlessly work hard to motivate our players to support their profession with education.