Meet the First Ethiopian Woman to Earn a Spot for the 2023 FIFA World Cup

Naomi Girma, a 23-year-old professional soccer player, goes down in the record books as being the first-ever Ethiopian woman to capture a spot in the illustrious USWNT (United States Women’s National Soccer Team) that represented the United States in the 2023 FIFA World Cup.

While it comes as unfortunate news that the United States was eliminated in the 2023 World Cup after a loss against Sweden, the impact that Naomi has started and will continue to intensify is still remarkable, to say the least.

Born in San Jose, California to Ethiopian immigrant parents, Naomi started off her remarkable career with humble beginnings. She first joined the Maleda Soccer Club, a local club that her father had started for the Ethiopian community in their area. 

This moment in her life is what sparked her interest in the sport. In Naomi’s own words, she said, “We would get together and we'd play soccer and I think just them creating that environment for me and making it such a fun and safe space for me to just like, fall in love with soccer. I always say it was like the most low-pressure environment you could imagine.”

And despite the struggles of being a first-generation American, which includes language barriers and a major adjustment to an entirely different culture, Naomi was able to rise above the obstacles in her life — honing her into the renowned athlete that she is known as today.

Finally settling on soccer as her sport of choice, Naomi steadily made progress in her budding career until she became the captain of Stanford Cardinal University, leading the team to win the 2019 Women’s College Cup.

While an ACL injury almost derailed her hope in 2021, Naomi pushed on to not only continue her rise to fame in the soccer world but also in her aspirations as an academic — Naomi went on to earn her master's degree in Engineering as well at Stanford.

Naomi’s professional career also started strong, having been drafted as the #1 overall pick in the 2022 NWSL Draft. Some of her other notable accolades include becoming the NWSL Rookie of the Year and winning the 2020 U.S. Soccer Young Female Player of the Year Award.

At the end of the day, Naomi is making strides in the sports industry today by achieving several milestones that have definitely been nothing short of legendary. It is clear that being the first Ethiopian Woman to represent the U.S. in the FIFA World Cup will definitely go down in history. And it is also a generation-defining landmark that will forever define the soccer industry moving forward.

By Neil Gregorio

Neil Gregorio is a graduating university student who writes as a hobby; when he is away from the keyboard, he spends his time watching Japanese animated shows and jamming out to his favorite rock music.