Eurgri's family didn't want her to play soccer.
But that was before they saw her shine.
“I used to play with my friends at school. Even then, I was always the goalie. I asked Coach Jemal, our sport teacher, to register me for the team that practices after school,” Eurgri told us when we visited her home in Harar, eastern Ethiopia.
None of her sisters - she has five siblings, including three sisters - play soccer. Deeply held traditions and stereotypes made Eurgri’s family fearful about what it would mean when the 14-year-old stepped onto the field. They also worried about immodest clothing.
And she didn’t have many female role models on the field to look up to.
Boys athletics far outpace the opportunities for young women in many cities, including Harar. Mothers with a Heart for Ethiopia now provides funding to two girls soccer teams, including salaries for four amazing coaches. For these girls, it’s not just about soccer (or as they call it, football).
Being part of a team allows the girls to make friends and build a community of like-minded peers. Playing on the soccer teams means nutritious snacks and meals each week - something that’s far from guaranteed in most of their homes.
And, it means the chance to hitch their dreams to a bigger goal, a hope that one day they will play soccer at a high level - maybe even on the national stage - and make enough money to pull their families out of poverty.
No one wants that more than Eurgri.
“I have a dream to play and represent my country,” she told us. “Before, we just played football. Now, we are serious. We have a training plan.”
Every day after school, she heads down to the soccer field to practice. When she goes home, she works at household tasks and homework from school. She knows she is smart, and hopes to become a doctor if she can’t make it to the big leagues.
But most nights, Eurgri wants to spend her free hours playing even more soccer.
“If I have to help my sisters, I do. Otherwise, I play soccer in the neighbourhood. Mostly, it’s with the boys. Sometimes there is a girl or two.”
In Eurgri’s family, it is her 21-year-old brother Bahar who looks after his five siblings. Their mother is dead and their father is not around.
Bahar said he has seen huge changes in his sister since she started playing sports.
“Here in the community, girls do not play soccer. She loves to play soccer. We tried to stop her but we couldn’t. But I have seen a lot of changes in her. I saw a change, and I saw how good she can play,” he said.
“I was very happy to see her in goal.”