Dagim Zinabu Tekle

Week 161 (5 – 11 November 2016)

Every now and then a special individual reminds us why we fell in love with sport. Ethiopian sports journalist Dagim Zinabu Tekle is one such individual.

This week, Tekle became the first male to be awarded the IOC Women and Sport World Trophy. His ground-breaking radio show, dedicated to inspiring women and girls to be more active in sport, was recognised by an IOC jury as the outstanding contribution to promoting gender equality through sport in 2016.

Commenting on the event, IOC President Thomas Bach said: "The world of sport needs courageous men and women to lead the change towards gender equality. These Women and Sport Awards are very important because without these personalities whom we are honouring, the athletes could not achieve their goals."

He added: "These personalities have assisted and inspired athletes. They have been fighting for the rights of female athletes, they have encouraged them. Let us be inspired by these role models to make the world a better place."

A brave and selfless man, Tekle founded his show five years ago, aiming to use sport to give Ethiopian women the voice they deserve. Determined to raise the profile of women's role in Ethiopian society, Tekle explained: "I created this show because I realised that, in Ethiopia, women have no voice and they are not heard."

Tekle stresses that the problems women face in sport, such as exclusion, belittlement and abuse, are a reflection of wider societal problems. He believes sport can help prevent abuse by creating awareness of traditional harmful practices, as well as promoting women who have become successful through their participation in sport.

Tekle's efforts have had a considerable impact. Since it began, the show has welcomed 12,580 guests, including coaches, professionals and sportswomen engaged in local and international projects, to raise awareness of the achievements of these remarkable women. The show is broadcast three times a week, acting as an inspiration to women to pursue their dreams.

His show has caused Tekle personal problems. At first, his progressive vision made it incredibly difficult to find funding for the show from Ethiopia's business community. Once he got over this hurdle, and the show became increasingly popular, he started to receive abuse and was even attacked in the street by a group of men.

In spite of the difficulties he has faced, Tekle refuses to let anything get in the way of his vision. And he sees this award as only the beginning. "This IOC award encourages me to dream bigger. I am thinking about creating the first ever Ethiopian Women and Sport TV show, to raise awareness, not only in my country, but also in the neighbouring countries."

Dagim Zinabu Tekle is a gifted communicator and a committed campaigner, and his story is a reminder of the influence sport can have on society. Winning this award has helped his message reach a global audience, but he is not going to stop there. In his own words: "I will only be satisfied when women are treated the same as men."

Photo: Twitter