Eritreans' favourite sports are soccer and cycling. There are an estimated 200 soccer clubs and more than 5,000 registered players nationally. As there are very few designated soccer fields, children play the game on the streets with balls made out of compacted cotton. Eritrea also boasts numerous cycling clubs, and women have recently begun to take up this sport seriously. In rural areas camel racing is also gaining ground, especially among the Tigre and Rashaida peoples.

Traditional games include gebetta, (called mandala elsewhere in the world), which is played with 48 dried peas. The board is usually rectangular, with two facing rows of six hollowed cups each. The game involves picking up the peas in a chosen cup and redistributing them in an attempt to capture as many peas as possible.

Another traditional game is fti fti, usually played by a group of girls and set to the rhythm of certain songs. Girls squat-hop up and down to the beat of the tune. The goal is to see who gets tired first and who can outlast the group. Handai, similar to jacks, is played by both boys and girls. The game usually uses seven pebbles. Players must toss pebbles in the air and catch them while picking up other ones from the ground.

In the cities, government-run youth clubs offer both recreational and educational activities. Cities like Asmara also have a strong café culture; Asmarinos love to hang out and socialize on the tree-lined streets.

  Did you know?
Making Eritrean coffee or bun involves an elaborate ceremony usually performed for guests at home. The raw coffee beans are roasted over a small charcoal fire, then ground with a mortar and pestle. The grounds are slow boiled in a clay pot with a long neck, and then the coffee is poured into tiny cups and mixed with lots of sugar. The process takes over an hour.

  Did you know?
Eritreans derive their passion for cycling from the Italians. One of the toughest cycling races goes along the Asmara-Keren road. The 91-kilometre route has many hairpin bends, steep slopes and winding roads. The winner of this race goes on to represent Eritrea in international competitions.