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The first Ethiopian-born rink hockey player to represent Australia at the World Skate Games

At the age of 17, Abesolom McCarthy, dubbed Sol by his family and friends, could never have imagined travelling to Argentina to represent Australia at the World Skate Games. Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Sol was adopted by Irish parents, Bob and Emma-Kate McCarthy. Spending seven years of his adolescent life in Ireland, Sol was introduced to a number of sports.

“Back in Ireland, I was quite a sporty kid much like I am today. I played a wide variety of different sports such as rugby, taekwondo, gymnastics, swimming and tennis. I wasn’t introduced to rink hockey until my family made the move to Australia,” Sol said.

It has been ten years since Bob and Emma-Kate relocated from the rolling green hills of Ireland to the picturesque blue sky and seas of Australia. On their honeymoon, the couple experienced firsthand the Australian lifestyle and knew it would be their forever home.

“We moved to Australia for the lifestyle. Bob and I are very sporty, active people and Australia was a country we fell in love with and so it was only a matter of time until we moved,” Emma-kate said.

A chance meeting with a young Will Hoey upon moving to Australia was what introduced Sol to rink hockey.

“I was introduced to the sport when I arrived in Australia. I sat with my friend Will Hoey whose dad Steve Hoey runs rink hockey here in Australia. Through them, they suggested giving the sport a go. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, even though I had never been on or seen skates before,” Sol said.

“When I first had a go on the skates I was given the nickname ‘Spider’ because I had arms and legs going in all directions. I’d continuously fall down and get back up but I did it day after day until it became second nature to me.”

Sol developed his skating abilities through sheer willpower and determination, eventually making it into both the Victorian under-15s and under-17s state teams. As Sol continued to improve, his love for the sport grew stronger.

“It’s a sport none of my friends play at school, and it's something unique to me. I can be proud of that, and it’s my sport outside of my group. The friends I have made through this sport are also something really special as they are from all over the world.”

Sol had never imagined that one day he would have the chance to represent the country that he now calls home in a World Skating event until he received a phone call from his coach, Steve Hoey.

“I got the call and Steve said you’ve made it into the Australian rink team and you’re heading to Argentina. I was just shocked for 2 minutes, I didn’t know what to say, I wasn’t expecting it, it was the biggest surprise ever.”

For Sol, this is a personal honour that he will never forget, as he is the first Ethiopian to represent Australia in rink hockey and the first Ethiopian-born athlete to compete in a World Skate event.

“This is a really proud moment for me and something I will never forget. I am very proud to be Ethiopian, I tell everyone every single day that’s where I’m born and that’s where I’m from. We put a lot of effort into connecting with the Ethiopian community here in Melbourne.”

“Melbourne has a strong Ethiopian community, and the way we connect is through food. We go to the most beautiful Ethiopian restaurants and eat amazing food and I can tell Sol feels at home when we go there,” Emma-Kate added.

In the lead-up to the 2022 World Skate Games, Sol and his team have been training harder than ever before, with hockey sessions four times a week, gym twice a week and cardio twice a week.

Looking towards his future in the sport Sol sees himself still competing at a masters level, with the hopes to continue to play for more national teams.

“I definitely want to be playing til I’m 50 or 60 just as long as I can. I want to play for more national teams and inspire the next generation of kids from Ethiopia and even young children in general, to play rink hockey and give it a go.”

Emma-Kate added, “There is a beautiful family feel to rink hockey Australia. They nurture the juniors as they come through the sport. They mentor them from a young age and as they get older those kids then go on to mentor the next generation.”

The World Skate Games will take place from October 23rd to November 13th 2022 in Argentina, where Sol and his teammates will represent Australia.


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