Posts Tagged 'Soccer Ethiopia!'

What’s On My Mind by Bekele Araya, July 25, 2010

July 20, 2010

RASS Cup Group O
Al-Jaish v Saint George
, Abbassyeen Stadium
Al-Jaish 0 – St. George 1 (Bereket Addisu 61)
MoM: Lencho Skibba (7.8)
Attendance: 149. Referee: Asmare Zenebe.

July 21, 2010

RASS Cup Group O
Al-Ahly Sporting Club v Saint George
, Cairo International Stadium
Al-Ahly 5 (Mohamed Fadi 6, Siboniso Gaza 10, Harrison Afful 22, Francis Doe 45+2p, Ahmed Belal 58) – St. George 0
: Belal (9.3) V’s Best: Adugna Deyas (6.7)
Attendance: 44,174. Referee: Shukri Gudina.

From the Soccer Ethiopia! Studios. July 25, 2010.

Bekele Araya looked at his notes. He refused to be tied to a script, preferring the loose outlines in front of him to the monotonous crawl of the teleprompter. He took a pen and underlined a key phrase. Twice. He was looking forward to this.

He heard a Getachew’s voice introducing him. It was the older brother. Really, he should see someone about how nasal his voice is. It grated Bekele. But t least Samuel Getachew had earned his stripes in the business. They had been peers once, covering marathons, drinking warm tej and warmer coffee trying to stay awake for the interminable hours until the finish line. In the old days, you could just invent the race out of the whole cloth: strategic moves, bursts of speed. Who was to know?

Not anymore. Bekele appreciated the truth, but wondered often if it improved anything.

But Getachew’s brother, Jereymia, the younger one? A waste. Only had a job because of Samuel. The voice paused, introduction done, and Bekele smiled the same smile he practiced in front of the mirror for twenty minutes each day, glanced down at his notes, and began to speak, savoring each minute.

“Have we already seen the apex for Saint George coach Tadesse Makonnen? Are his best days behind him? Surely, last season will go down in the annals of Ethiopian football, but early signs are that Ato Tadesse caught lightning in a bottle, a feat unlikely to be repeated.

I know this is an unpopular view, but if you look carefully and objectively, refusing to get caught up in the endless hype and self-promotion of V’s media machine, the signs are already there.

They are struggling in the RASS Cup, barely beating a far inferior Al-Jaish side, and then being absolutely embarrassed by Al-Ahly. Certainly, nobody expected Saint George to beat Al-Ahly. That would have been too optimistic, even for Makonnen. But, to lose five to nothing? Five? To nothing? There really can be no excuse for such a lackluster performance.

I don’t see the team bouncing back from that, and there are already rumors of internal dissent, with veteran players questioning the number of minutes being given to the new crop of teenagers to be hailed as Ethiopia’s future.

With four matches left in the group certainly nothing is settled, but unless Harrar Beer imbibe too much of their own product before their game, I would expect to see the red and white pretenders emerge triumphant over the once-proud champions when they meet tomorrow. That’s right, you heard it here first: Harar Beer over Saint George.

Saint George cannot even keep their own house in order at this point, with two games at their home stadium cancelled due to the condition of the pitch. This seems appropriate to me: the future for Saint George is muddy, and in my eyes, disappointment looms, not just for those whose tickets went unused last week, but for all of the fans of the defending champion.”

He squared up his papers and again flashed the smile at the camera. I’m Bekele Araya, and that’s what’s on my mind. Ato Samuel?”


Soccer Ethiopia! Episode 2

April 21, 2010

Ethio Premiere,
Saint George v Ethiopan Coffee Sport Club, Addis Ababa Stadium
St. George 3 (Mohammed Abera 21, Gorge Owino 41, Ochan Bayalegne 67) – Ethiopian Coffee 0
Eshetu Mohammed (8.4)
Attendance: 4101. Referee: Zekarias Fega Girma.

April 28, 2010

Ethio Premiere
Dedebit Football Club v Saint George
, Nyala Stadium
Dedebit 0 – St. George 4 (Bereket Addisu 35 65 80, Fitsum Kebede 45)
MoM: Addisu (9.6)
Attendance: 542. Referee: Yohannes Kayira.

The Ethio/techno mix fades out, and the camera focuses on an older man, heavyset and heavily balding. He smiles nervously, and speaks directly into the lens.

“Welcome to Soccer Ethiopia! We’re back for a second episode! I’m your host this week, Samuel Getachew from the Addis Ababa Soccer Messenger. This week, we’ll talk live via satellite with Bekele Araya from Cienfuegos, Cuba where Saint George take on the Cuban hosts in just a few hours. We’ll also have extended highlights from the past two weeks of games in the EPL and ENL, and, since it’s the start of a new month, we’ll end the show with our monthly awards!”

The lens pulled back, showing a younger man seated across from Samuel. The two bore a close similarity, although the other man was noticeably fitter and his hairline had yet to recede.

Samuel continued, “First, however, we have Jereymia Getachew, also from the Addis Soccer Messenger who will be providing us with this episode’s Media Thoughts. Jereymia?”

The younger man smiled. “Thank you, Ato Samuel, and hello to all of our viewers.”

The camera gently moved, zooming in on the younger Getachew brother. “Last week, Saint George again proved themselves to be leaders in Ethiopian soccer off the pitch as well as on when they announced a formal relationship with the team from Kombolcha Textiles. Kombolcha sit at the bottom of the National League, having managed only four wins on the year.”

“At first this partnership, which joins the top team in the top league with the last place team in the bottom league may make very little sense. But looking more closely, we see the kind of vision that V has shown as the Ethiopian game has grown. V will pay Kombolcha a fee rumored to be in the neighborhood of two-and-a-half thousand dollars per year—for perspective, that is over half of Kombolcha’s annual expense for player salaries.”

“In return, Saint George will be able to send players to Kombolcha on loan. These players will, in all likelihood, move directly into the first team of the part-timers, giving Saint George another outlet for their younger players to receive time on the field.”

“This is the first such partnership between a major club in Ethiopia and one of the true minnows of the second division, but I would suspect we will see many copycat moves over the next few months. Saint George, however, continues to be first.” He pauses and holds the camera’s gaze for a moment. “Back to you, Ato Samuel.”

“Thank you Jereymia. When we come back, live from Cuba, a conversation with Bekele Aray of the Ethiopian Soccer Free Press.”

As the red light that indicated the camera was live went off, a buzz of activity overtook the small studio.

“Do we have Bekele?”

“Yes, on my cell.”

“On your cell? What good is that going to do? We need him on the other line, the one that Britu wired through the sound board.”

“Do we have a receiver there? He says we have to call him.”

“Give me the damn phone. Bekele’s just trying to save money. Give it. Bekele? Yeah, it’s Issa. Get off this line and call us back at the number she gave you, OK? NOW. We’re back on in—how long?—two minutes. NOW.”

A moment later, another voice “Got him. We’re good.”

While all this was happening, a young woman was fitting Samuel with a headset and testing out the volume. “Good here, too.”

“OK, great, we’re back live on Jereymia in in five … four … three … two … one.”

The younger man grinned again. “Welcome back to Soccer Ethiopia! As most of you know, the draw for Saint George’s opponent in the first qualifying round of The Immigrant’s Cup was held last week and saw V paired with lowly Cuban side Cienfuegos.” He glanced down at a stack of papers on the table.

“For those of our viewers unfamiliar with them, a little background: Cienfuegos participates this year in the Cruyff Conference of the North American Division II. Last year, in the Beckenbauer Conference, they only managed 2 victories in 22 league games. They are a team of youngsters, led by Pablo Cárdenas who was appointed head coach after spending less than a week as an assistant last season. I’m told that we have Ato Bekele on the phone live from the stadium, so we’ll go to him now.”

Samuel looked over at his younger brother a little uncertainly. The screen was replaced with a map of Cuba highlighting the city located on the southern coast of central Cuba. A crackly audio connection was heard behind the elder Getachew’s voice.

“Hello, Ato Bekele, are you there?”

“Hello, Ato Samuel! I am here, live from Estadio Luis Pérez Lozano in Cienfuegos, Cuba.” The Spanish escaped his lips with an exaggerated accent, sing-song and with too long of a trill on the r’s.

“Excellent! Ato Bekele, what can you tell us about the mood of the Saint George side as they prepare for the game later today?”

“The team looks confident, in fact, if anything, there is a growing concern here that they are too confident. The home side looks well ready, and they certainly will be searching for the upset tonight.”

“Have you spoken to Ato Tadesse about the game?”

A slight pause, as if such a consideration would be beneath him. “No, Ato Samuel, I can’t say that I have. I did, however, watch the Cienfuegos practice earlier today, and I must say I was impressed. They have a young defender especially, name of Cristobal Torriente, who looks to be the best player on the field tonight for them.”

“Can you tell us anything about how Cienfuegos are likely to play tonight?”

“I can tell you that they’ve done their homework: their coach spoke of the danger posed by Bereket Addisu, and I would expect Torriente to have the job of stopping Addisu tonight.”

“Do you really think an upset is possible?”

“Sure, it happens in football all the time. And just between you, me, and our viewers, I must say that Ato Tadesse, no matter his dominance of national matches, seems to struggle on the international stage.”

“Thank you, Ato Bekele. We look forward to seeing you back here in at our home studio later this week, and we look forward to your reports after the game!”

The older man began to remove his headset, then looked to his left suddenly, stopped and turned to the camera, and exclaimed shakily, “We’ll be back right after this on Soccer Ethiopia!”

May 1, 2010

Immigrant’s Cup First Qualifying Round
Fútbol Club Cienfuegos v Saint George
, 5 de Septiembre
Cienfuegos 0 – St. George 4 (Bereket Addisu 51 61, Fitsum Kebede 70, Ochan Bayalegne 73)
MoM: Addisu (9.3)
Attendance: 862. Referee: Miriam Simos.

Soccer Ethiopia, Episode One

April 4, 2010

Saint George v Adama City Football Club, Addis Ababa Stadium
St. George 2 (Haile Hussein 3og, Shalo Bikila 10) – Adama City 0
Bereded Gawo (8.0)
Attendance: 2868. Referee: Sayoum Haile Mariam.

April 7, 2010

Ethio Premiere
Awassa City v Saint George
, Awassa Kenema Stadium
Awassa 0 – St. George 0
Wubeshet Desaleghn (7.4) V’s Best: (Gorge Owino 7.0)
Attendance: 2150. Referee: Mulugeta Dubarish.

April 13, 2010

Addis Cup Semifinal
Saint George v Dedebit Football Club
, Addis Ababa Stadium
St. George 5 (Lencho Skibba 16 29 61p, Ochan Bayalegne 51, Andualem Negussie 90+1) – Dedebit 0
Skibba (9.6)
Attendance: 1968. Referee: Samson Gawo.

April 17, 2010

The intro is, by American standards, amateurish. Cheesy, even. Something you would see on the local late-night community access channel minus the urge towards sleaze. There are shots of the supporters and of the stadiums at sunset and a few of national icons—the church at Lalibela, the Axum obelisk, the Mercado at the height of business; and then a series of images of players from around the league come spinning onto the screen, each one trailing copies of itself as it settles into place. There are Amharic graphics that bounce into place and a soundtrack that combines mid-90’s techno with the high pitched treble of traditional Ethiopian music. The energy is unmistakable: somebody worked very hard on this, convinced that others would see it as they do, a labor of love.

The graphics fade to a small, well-ordered set: a white oval table with a chair on each side, and a backdrop that reads Soccer Ethiopia!! in English and Amharic, preserving the two exclamation points in both languages. One chair is empty, the other filled by a middle aged man wearing a light blue suit with no tie, Bekele Araya, lead reporter for the Ethiopian Soccer Free Press.

The camera zooms in on Araya, who grins broadly into the lens.

“Welcome to the inaugural edition of Soccer Ethiopia! We are your bi-weekly source of everything that is going on in Ethiopian Football from the top of the Premiere League to the part-time sides at the bottom of the National League, we cover it all. Each week, we’ll bring you news, highlights, exclusive interviews, and more. And, we want to hear from you: you can send in your questions by SMS or Facebook or by e-mailing us directly.”

The screen shifts shakily to another graphic displaying URL’s, phone numbers, e-mail addresses. A crawl starts on the bottom repeating the information as well. Araya’s voice continues over the graphic. “And, when we return, an exclusive interview with Saint George’s head coach, Tadesse Makonnen.”

A voice from off-set intrudes. “And … we’re out.”

During the break, Ayala motioned to the man standing just offset. “Ato Tadesse, please, come join me.” Makonnen nervously straightens his coat, nods, and takes his seat opposite Ayala. A young woman comes up and brushes his face lightly with what feels like a feather duster, then fiddles with the microphone attached to the lapel of his dark jacket. She smiles at him, and says softly, “You look great. Just relax and be yourself, coach.”

Makonnen nods. Be myself. Right. He closes his eyes momentarily. My Lord, my God, please grant me the strength to do this, let your wisdom guide me, and let me feel the grace of your infinite blessing. Amen. He opens his eyes and smiles weakly at Araya. From somewhere behind him, he hears the same voice, “and we’re back in five … four … three … two … one … go.”

Ayala turns towards the camera. “Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the coach of Saint George, Ato Tadesse Makonnen. Ato Tadesse, welcome to the very first episode of Soccer Ethiopia.”

“Thank you, Ato Bekele. It’s an honor to be here, and I wish you all the best with the show. It’s a great day for football in our country.”

“Thank you very much. We’re very excited about the show, and we hope to see you again on it many times.” Makonnen nodded. “Ato Tadesse, we join V at the end of what has been a mixed campaign for you it seems. Saint George is dominating the domestic play, but have struggled in the international competitions. Can you share your sense of the season with our viewers?”

Don’t let him get the best of you. Relax. Makonnen leans on the table as the camera slowly zooms in on his face. “I am, of course, very pleased with our performance in the league. The men have worked very hard this year, and I think it shows, and we’re all proud to be adding to the tradition of Saint George. But I have to disagree a little with your assessment of our play in other competitions: we will be playing in the final of the first Ethio-Italian Friendship Cup, and our performance in the All-Africa Challenge has had some true bright spots—the victories over Enyimba and Etoile du Sahel especially. These are among the top clubs on the continent, and we have shown that we are closing in on them quite quickly.”

Bekele shrugs slightly. “Yes, those were good wins. But still, you were, if my notes are correct, twelve points shy of qualifying from the group phase in the All-Africa Challenge. Surely that counts as falling short of your goals?”

“Our goals, yes. Expectations, perhaps not. I believe we opened some eyes as to just how good Ethiopian football is through our performance there.”

Bekele pauses, just long enough to communicate his disagreement. “Moving to more recent news, yesterday saw Saint George destroy Dedebit by a score of five – nil to reach the finals of the Addis Cup. Any comments on the game?”

“It was a good win. Dedebit worked hard out there, and they were a bit unlucky in the final score. Lencho Skibba was fantastic for us. He deserved his hat trick, and I think he’s showing great form lately.”

Ayala nodded then turned to face the camera directly. “More from Ato Tadesse later in the program, but now here is Samuel Getachew with a rundown of the games from the past week. Samuel?”

Again the voice from the side. “Cut! Good job everyone.”

Makonnen looked around. “But, where’s Samuel?”

Araya looked at him with a hint of derision in his face. “He’s already recorded the summary—we’ll edit that in later. We just need to wrap up with you, and then you’re on your way. Do you need a break?”

Makonnen shook his head. “No, no, I’m fine.”

“Good. Issa, are we ready for the closing segment with Ato Tadesse?”

The voice from behind answered. “Just a second. I’ll count you down.” Araya leaned towards Makonnen. “OK, this is a special segment, we need just short answers, one or two words, OK?”

“Oh … ok, sure.” Why didn’t they mention this earlier?

The voice returned “and, go in … five … four … three … two … one … now.”

Araya was staring into the camera. “Thank you, Samuel! We’re back in the studio for a feature we like to call the Hot Seat. Today in the chair, Ato Tadesse Makonnen of Saint George.” He turned to face his guest. “You ready, Ato Tadesse?”

Tadesse swallowed and nodded. “Great! Five questions, first answer that comes into your mind, if you will. One, who will win the Premier League title?”

Makonnen smiled. “Saint George.”

Araya nodded. “True or false, your team is danger of losing focus over the final few weeks of the season.”

“No, not true. False.”

“Third question. Your goalkeeper Adugna Deyas recently went public with a desire to move on to a better team. Is it true he will be playing in Europe next year?”

Makonnen stumbled. Relax, you can get through this. “No, no, he’s our first choice.”

“Four. What is the first word that comes into your mind when I say Mohammed Abera?”

That’s more like it. “Unlimited potential.”

“Final question. Is it true that after only a year in the system, you are looking to displace national icon Abraham Teklehaimanot as coach of the national team?”

“What? I, what? No, I don’t … “

Ayala cut him off. “And that is all of your time on the hot seat! Thank you Ato Tadesse, and best of luck out on the pitch.” He turned back to the camera. “When we return, we’ll have an interview with National League leading Bahir Dar coach Girum Ayalew and his veteran striker, Tafess Biru.”

A pause, and the voice again. “And we’re out.”

Makonnen looked at Araya angrily. “What was that about? Those questions … why did you …”

Araya smiled. “It’s called the hot seat for a reason, Ato Tadesse.” The woman was back, removing his microphone and gently moving him out of his chair and off the stage. Makonnen, still confused, found his way out of the building and out into the parking lot, blinking rapidly, confused as much by what just happened as the bright sunlight of the Addis spring.

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