Meet the first player of Ethiopian descent to earn a spot for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup – Naomi Haile Girma. Girma is a professional soccer player, who has proven her remarkable skills time and time again throughout her career. Read more about Naomi inside.
The FIFA Women’s World Cup has been a trending topic since it began July 20. The coveted soccer competition will go n on through August 20. The US holds the current champion title for the fourth time and with the help of players like Girma, fans are sure the US Women’s team can bring it home again.
Girma competes for San Diego Wave FC in the National Women’s Soccer League. The 23 year old has accomplished so much in her short professional career, but making her debut in the FIFA Women’s World Cup is her community’s most prideful accomplishment to date.
The talented player is the daughter of immigrants from Ethiopia and considered to be one of the best female soccer players today. Girma was selected as the first overall pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft and subsequently signed with the San Diego Wave. Girma’s impressive performance during her first professional season earned her the prestigious NWSL Defender of the Year and Rookie of the Year honors.
Girma’s exceptional talents have been on display since her early soccer days. She has represented the American under-17, under-19, and under-20 national teams. Her extraordinary skills and leadership qualities were evident during her time at Stanford Cardinal, where she captained the team to victory in the Women’s College Cup in 2019.
Naomi’s parents, Girma Aweke and Seble Demissie, both Ethiopian immigrants, met in the Bay Area and later gave birth to Naomi in San Jose, California. She has an elder brother named Nathaniel, who is three years her senior. Growing up, both English and Amharic were spoken in her family, reflecting her Ethiopian heritage.
Girma’s soccer journey started thanks to her dad, who founded the Maleda Soccer Club in 2005, specifically for the Bay Area’s Ethiopian community. During her childhood, she also attended basketball games at the YMCA and Hacienda Elementary School, following the interests of her older brother.
Though fans might assume she gravitated towards soccer first, because of her impressive skillset and historic World Cup debut, she actually spent five years practicing gymnastics before fully committing to the sport in middle school.
In 2010, Girma joined the neighborhood youth group Central Valley Crossfire and remained with the team until its dissolution in 2017. She impressed coaches in 2009 after a practice session she attended with the introduction of a friend. Under the guidance of coach Bob Joyce, Girma played for Crossfire and made significant progress. Joyce encouraged Girma to take the sport more seriously, so she joined the Olympic Development Program competitions and was invited to a camp with the US U-14 national team. As she progressed in her soccer journey, she went on to play for other teams like Pioneer High School, California Thorns Academy, and De Anza Force as a guest player.
Her exceptional skills did not go unnoticed, and in the 2022 NWSL Draft, Girma was chosen as the first overall pick by San Diego Wave FC. Throughout May and June 2022, her outstanding performances earned her a spot in the NWSL Best XI of the Month, and in June, she was named NWSL Rookie of the Month. By the end of the campaign, Girma’s gifts were recognized with both the NWSL Defender of the Year and NWSL Rookie of the Year awards.
Girma’s talent and dedication were recognized by San Diego Wave FC, who awarded her a new contract that will keep her with the team until 2026. The contract extension was signed on June 14, 2023.
On April 12, 2022, Girma made her debut for the senior national team during a friendly match against Uzbekistan. She also played a vital role in the 2022 CONCACAF W Championship, where she assisted Sophia Smith in a victory over Jamaica.
Girma’s remarkable performances and contributions to the sport have led to her selection to represent the United States in the highly prestigious 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Go Girma, go!
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