I see that there is a big football fan in Ethiopia – Didier Drogba

We have the brilliance, talent, and the interest to change our continent.

The first African Business Health Forum (ABHF), a public-private partnership forum in the health sector, was held yesterday in Addis Ababa.

The one day forum was graced by the presence of Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, president of the Republic of Djibouti Mohammed Omar Gileh and the two-time African Footballer of the Year, Didier Yves Drogba Tébily.

Coming to Ethiopia for the first time, Drogba has explained the purpose of his visit in Addis Ababa, his whereabouts after he retired from football and his future projects as well.

What is really remarkable and many people know you as a football player but looking at your career even very early you stretched and stood up. When Cote d’Ivoire was facing crisis you stood up and said, “You need to stop”, “cease fire”. When you saw challenges in the health sector you set up a foundation. Why do you step up? Why do you need to stretch? Why so young…

It is important to me because I love my country, I love my continent. The biggest fans that I have are from Africa. When you see all those kids dreaming of becoming the next Drogba, the next superstar, you need to help them live their dreams. For example, I was coming for this interview from my room, I saw a young girl. She was in tears. You know this means a lot to me. You cannot forget these kids. I have to live their lives. 

I myself have kids. When I go to a hospital and see kids who are not in good health, then, I tell myself, these children could have been mine. I don’t want my children to be in these situations. So, it is natural. I automatically feel the pains. It comes naturally.

You yourself were born in a red-cross hospital. It is a journey on its own. Now, here discussing health, what is on top of your mind? Why health in Africa is important?

I wish I could do it myself and change everything and eventually make everybody is in good health. Health is very important. When you wake up in the morning your mother comes and says “How are you, my son?”. She was asking me about health. This is what we are doing every day. I have been doing quite a lot in my country or across Africa. However, it is not enough. We really need to be together. Together, we can change the continent. We are always there, but without you we are nothing. We should stand together. 

If we can Inspire Africans, let’s do it now. Please something to Africans 

I think there is always hope. They have to dream big. It is the dream that helped me become the person I am today. There are always possibilities to achieve something we want. I think it has to come from ourselves. 

Of course, we the kind of successful people need to inspire the next generation and that is what we are doing and I won’t stop until I see a young one grow and be more successful than I am. 

Now we are in a position where we can see the continent is changing. And, the perception of Africa has changed. We have excellent people, excellent leaders, Athletes etc. We are coming back now to being successful abroad. We have the brilliance, the talent, and the interest. We have a voice. Africa has a bright future but still, we have to stand together. Only together we change the narrations.

What is your main reason for coming to Ethiopia today?

I am here for the health forum. Health is something that deeply touches me. I had some occasions where I had these problems. Let me tell you a story, there was an Ivoirian kid admitted in a hospital. After, an international match one day in Abidjan, I went to the hospital to pay him a visit.  In a very small room of 12 or 15 m2, there were 9 mothers and 9 kids. 

I was touched and managed to send him to go to Switzerland for treatment. When I went to see his parents another day, another old woman in the village called me and said, “My son! Do not forget me! Do not leave me. It really touched me. It gave me the power to participate in such activities. A forum like this one helps you to meet people who can stand by your side to accomplish what you want to accomplish by the name of the foundation.

Have you been to Ethiopia before?

Ethiopia, this is my first time but I was really seduced by the hospitality and the reception. I saw that there is a big football fan. 

You have announced your retirement a couple of weeks ago and what are you doing now?

After I announced my retirement, I focused on the foundation because when I was playing I have-not had the chance to see them every day. But now, that is why I am here today. I have enough time. I see what they do every day.

Last week we launched a project to digitally equip a school in Cote d’Ivoire. You know, being digital is important today. We push the children to excellence by giving them the tool. This is what we are doing. Health this is why I am here today.

What specifically have you done in the health sector, any investment so far?

I built a clinic in Abidjan whose goal is to give access to health to everyone. The number of clinics in Abidjan is not enough so I thought about how I could reach these people and built a clinic. Now, the clinic serves people coming from areas outside Abidjan.

Football cannot be put aside from you. When People look at you, they see football. Do you have any football related project coming up?

Football is connected to both health and education. You can use football to teach children. Health, our national team player Cheick Ismaël Tioté, for example, died of a heart disease failing to examine. You see these two are the most important sectors.

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