To Redeat Bayleyegn, Secretary, Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America.
We underlings at SELEDA depend on only a few things to help us survive the monotonous quwq-intiff that has become our life. Little things, mind you, that, insignificant as they may be to this cold, uncaring world, are nonetheless the few dependable invariables we count on to help prevent us from methodically pulling out our fingernails with a rusty pair of pliers while listening to Kenny G.
It is a generally accepted fact that we are simple people whose ambitions, aspirations and optimism have been pulverized in a stainless steel muqeCHa. And yet,ay ye sew neger, we still manage to derive sporadic joy from knowing that:
- a) we can always depend on a few people to pronounce “nuclear” as “nu-ki-lar” and “MegenaNa” as “MegaNa”
- b) God will soon smite Donald Trump
- c) the world’s most dysfunctional organizations are, be qdem teketel, SELEDA, all wereda Tshifet bEtoch and the July 4 soccer tournament outfit, which, we just recently found out, has a fancy acronym and all-- EFSNA..
Tadiya mn yaregal?...
Imagine our synchronized “bemotkut”s when we got wind of the news that one of our most cherished SELEDAwi, Redeat Bayleyegn (a.k.a. Redeatachin) was elected the new secretary of the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America. “Mn kifu neger lekefew bakachihu,” we m’Ts-ed sympathetically even as we started to sharpen our CHubE. And then we hear that in fact there has been a whole upheaval at ESFNA itself and that it is now this asferri-ly efficient, ke meTen belai transparent, gudeNa-ly qum neger yazele new and improved concern.
Essuma ayhonim !
Not that we feel there is ever a need to back up our vitriol with facts, but we were intrigued enough to amble on over to their website.
The old EFSNA website, eNa snawqew, was updated once every two years, gffa beel, a year and 10 months, and even then the parade of dead links abEt tikusat!! Now? Now, spectacular revampation Tebiqon quCH! (www.efsna.org)
Ere qoi what the !! This year’s tournament is actually going to take place in the swanky Seahawks Stadium?? Whatever happened to the usual venue? A rundown high school stadium in a drive-by, “drug-free” free zone in the worst part of the host city?? Seahawks Stadium-iii? Someone at ESFNA has taken big-time negotiating classes at B-School.
Demmo esu albeqa b’lowachew, you can now easily navigate the site and even thumb through documents that look remarkably like real financial dokmEntoch that an actual CPA put together. (Versus previous similarities to SELEDA’s books which still look like the unfinished homework of a ninth year community college “eknomikss” temari.) Then there is the bi-weekly radio program organizational charts updates, minutes, history, philanthropic projects, multimedia, vendor applications
What is the world coming to that we can’t even depend on ESFNA to remain the overly-bloated and colossally chaotic organization that we have grown to love and cherish? IndE, what is a little labyrinth of bureaucracy between friends? Ere demmo massive inefficiency manin gedelE?
Mnew sew’u indassqemeTut alegeN ale’ssa!
But, the respect and admiration we have for Redeat mechEss Tlobn and if someone like him is involved in ESFNA well, then, feggedababoddid, as they say in Newark. Here is Redeat, and he’s got a-latta essplainin’ to do
|1. Now, what’s a great guy like you doing in a place like ESFNA? What made you take on this incredible responsibility? We ETs usually shy away from taking on responsibility like this—especially voluntarily, and especially when it comes with potential landmines and the potential to "sew aff wusT megbat". In other words, mnew arfeh bitiqemeT?||
Had you met my colleagues in ESFNA you wouldn’t have said I’m “great”; I’m the least amongst them.
I have been associated with ESFNA since 1992. I’m a soccer player and served as a Board member. I see myself as a member of the generation after the “ya tewlid”-- the undeniably tormented upshot of the Ethiopian “revolution”. I believe in social and community involvement, regardless of the “potential landmines”. Thus, I’m just trying to do my part in the best possible organization available to me at the moment. Despite some difficulties, I’m honored to be of service. It’s been very rewarding.
|2. So, we hear there’s a whole new leadership up there at ESFNA. Inna, seriously, what measures do the new Execs plan to take regarding the censorship of trendless and conspicuous: fara-frosted highlights illegitimate neTela tube-tops, and, been-there-seen-that wash'n'go hair?||
Now, you are trying to get me in trouble with my Ethiopian women. I love my people to come as they are and wish.
Personally, though, I think the wash’n’go gotta’go!
|3. Was your election rigged? If not, why not?||ESFNA is not Florida. We don’t use “punch-hole” ballots. There is no dimple, hanging, or pregnant chads in ESFNA. We do our election ij bemawTat! The Executive Committee is elected out of the 25 Board of Directors (Soccer Club Representatives). Thus, it’s very easy to count who received the majority from candidates. I doubt even if Houdini can rig that system!|
|4. As the saying goes, “Denial is not just a river that starts at Tana.” You realize how insane ESFNA’s past business practices have been, right?||There is no denial on our part. We have always insisted that ESFNA has committed its share of business mistakes. In the process of trying to make things better we may make even more “insane” ones in the future. Most of them are due to our lack in capacity than intentional missteps. Even more, problems were unforeseen. However, every year the Board of Directors (Board) and Executive Committee (EC) try to rectify past shortcomings. Our commitment is to learn from our mistakes and do a better job next time.|
|5. Listen, why should we believe that an organization like ESFNA, so entrenched and behemoth-like, could really change with the times?||Change is zelalemawi! ESFNA understands that. And if you study the organization closely, I think it has evolved in the past 21 years. For instance, in 1984, there were only four teams, now there are 25. In 2005, we will be 27. The tournament didn’t start as a weeklong festivity. We never needed convention center-size halls for our closing nights as late as 1991; but now even convention centers need to be large enough to hold our guests. Yet, we still need to evolve and reform with time; we need to add on to the positives left behind for us by our predecessors.|
|6. If you looked up “Fiscal responsibility” in the New ESFNA Dictionary, it would say, “...||“...Legitimate, Transparent and Verifiable!”|
|7. In general, why do you think we Ethiopians seem to so easily take people’s trust and respect for granted?||Uh-oh! Is that a trick question? I don’t know if I can honestly concur with your question (assumption). I think we have too much YiluNta and “FeTari’ss m’n yilal?” still left in us.|
|8. So, is it true that y’all have a contract out on the guy who wrote that exposé on you? (We’d be happy to refer you to our in-house gulbet sebari.)||No gulbet sebari, please. He is only exercising his andeNa Amendment, right. ESFNA should welcome dialogues like that; we ought to respect and admire people who can point to us what they believe is right. ESFNA, rightfully and timely, replied to the individual and other concerned Ethiopians. We will continue to do that.|
|9. Is greed good?||I think generosity is better!|
|10. What are typical ESFNA upper management meetings like? How often do you meet? Do you all have other full time jobs? BTW, how do you control a mydekmew chiko from railroading your meetings? Do you all get along, or would you be willing to use this forum to spread diceyalubalta on one of your colleagues? (We won't tell anyone.)||
Our meetings are long and adkami! ESFNA conducts two General Meetings per year. The entire Board ∓ EC, as well as some members of the Finance and Tournament
Coordinating Committees attend these meetings. The EC conducts phone conferences and half dozen face-to-face meetings throughout the year. All EC members are volunteers and have full
time jobs. All current EC members live in seven different cities in seven different states.
Sometimes we all get carried away and become chiko. We don’t always agree; at times, ideas get so acrimonious but seldom personal.
|11. OK. In twenty words or less, tell us the new things you (and the other new Executive members) would like to accomplish during your term? How long is your term?||
As we tackle the normal duties of the organization, we plan to strengthen ESFNA’s internal capacities in order to create a stronger and more confident organization. We also plan
to make the annual soccer tournament even bigger!
The president and secretary serve three years and the other five officers serve two years. There is no term limit so they could get reelected if the Board believes in them. BTW, did you know that ESFNA had more than five presidents in 20 years? All transitions were peaceful and no schisms.
|12. Are there things ESFNA would not do to filleth its coffers?||Yes, of course! We will not sell our kidneys, nor will we engage in dubious business practices. ESFNA has three main sources of income: Stadium Entrance Fee, Vendors Fee and Closing Night Concert. We never intentionally engage in dubious business practices. Yet, there were many instances we wish we could have done things differently ∓ better.|
|13. In your opinion, how is ESFNA perceived by the public that frequents the annual soccer tournament? Do you think that's a fair assessment?||I think there is a spectrum of opinion that varies from complete admiration to complete enmity. I think there is a middle ground for all where it’s safe. ESFNA needs admiration but we have to also constructively engage it when needed. ESFNA is one of the shining examples of the Ethiopian Diaspora and it does not deserve complete enmity. It’s not constructive to the overall ideal: ItyoPPiyawinet.|
|14. Ere benatachiu the noise pollution at the field!! As you know, some of the businesses that sell CDs play their music louder than the highest decibel at a busy morning at Kidane Mhret tsebel. Can you do something about it? At least slip in an azpiro or two with the kitfo?||I can’t agree with you more! Sometimes our vendors take it to another level. There were instances where the soccer players couldn’t hear the whistle on the field and we had to go and ask vendors to turn their music down. At times, the vendors get very aggressive when we do that and we have to be escorted by security to be heard. Maybe we can include something (a clause) in the vendor’s contract!|
|15. Has ESFNA become too big for its own good? Er, how big IS EFSNA?||
I don’t think ESFNA has become too big for its own good. Actually, ESFNA needs to grow even more—at least during the tournament week.
ESFNA is comprised of 25 teams in 22 North American cities and more than 600 soccer players. It takes $200K plus to organize a single tournament. At the moment, we only have some $200+K in the bank. There are lots of things to do to make ESFNA even bigger and better.
|16. How does one become an officer of ESFNA? What qualifications are needed? And how much does an ESFNA gig pay these days?||
First, you have to be selected by your team to represent the club. Thus, you will become a member of the Board of Directors. After you serve in the Board for at least three years, you
could be eligible for election in the Executive Committee. The major qualification is the trust you garner from fellow Board members in your tenure as one of them. The ideas you bring,
the leadership qualities you exhibit, the trusts you build as a doer often lead them to elect you as the Federation’s officer.
If you accept your election, you serve for free by sacrificing your time and resources for the good of the ideal ? All officers are volunteers; no fulltime employment and no pocket money.
|17. Are there any plans to earmark a small percent of the income from daily ticket sales to different Ethiopian organizations [selected beforehand and identified daily] that are helping our community? Set an example for philanthropy amongst the community; improve your image.||As ESFNA has become increasingly financially more stable, especially since 1999, it has contributed financially to avert famine in Ethiopia in 2000, 2002 and 2003. The highest being the $100K donation we have initiated in January 2003. Half was used immediately to avert famine and the other half is being used for permanent development. After Houston 2003, we sent three delegates as fact-finding teams in order to report on the donated amount. ESFNA will continue to engage in similar philanthropic endeavors.|
|18. Can we talk you into conducting a survey on the last day of your event and getting a report card from the public? And make the results public?||This is a very good idea. I’ll definitely bring it up to the Executive Committee. Would Seleda be kind enough to assist ESFNA in identifying some questionnaires? [Editors respond: “Eheh does it involve risqué gender politics? If not we ain’t doin’ nothin’!”]|
|19. In the spirit of transparency, can you convince your colleagues into releasing an annual report on your website, detailing your income and your expenses? (Do what we do and just put all expenses under ‘Miscellaneous’.)||Actually, ESFNA puts its financial report on its website. We have the 2002 report right now. The report on Houston 2003 and the calendar year ending December 31, 2003 will be posted right after ESFNA files its annual IRS Form 990 in April 2004.|
|20. The track record for the concerts that ESFNA organizes on the final evening has been dismal. There's no reason why we pay $25/$30 for a ticket when your performers arrive 15 minutes before closing time--every year. Mn yshalal tadiya?||I think due credit needs to be given to our predecessors in the EC for doing something about this issue the past three years. I don’t know if you were in Bay Area (2001), D.C. (2002) and Houston (2003) but I trust the dismal but true reputations of the past have significantly been corrected in these years. It’s our commitment to do even better! Don’t miss Ethiopian Day and the Closing Night in Seattle 2004!|
|21. Your event is the only place outside Ethiopia where we can rub shoulders with thousands of our own in a single day. Did we say thank you for making that happen?||Egziabhaer yisTil’n! Yet, truly, the dedicated public who stood by ESFNA for the past 21 years, through thick and thin, deserves more of the accolade. Our gratitude also goes to the selfless ESFNA volunteers who sacrifice immeasurably to make the annual gathering happen. Last but not least, the clubs and soccer players do deserve a big M’sgana!|
|22. What will ESFNA look like in the year 2015?||I hope to see the addition of more clubs, diversity in sports and community outreach, and become structurally sound with hired professionals running some aspect of ESFNA instead of it being an all-volunteer outfit. More significantly, I’d like to see philanthropic participation in the Diaspora and the Motherland; finally, I hope it will build support and sponsorship from corporations--this can cover soccer players’ expenses! I hope all these materialize.|
|23. How are the soccer teams selected? By club? City? How many teams can a city represent?||ESFNA’s growth to 25 teams mirrors the migration trend of Ethiopians to North America. The first teams of ESFNA were from D.C., Atlanta, Texas, California and recently Ohio and Las Vegas. At the beginning, expansion, even additional teams from the same area and cities (D.C. Maryland, Virginia; or Los Angeles and Dallas) didn’t seem problematic. But now, as the Ethiopian community in Diaspora exploded in the late 80’s and 90’s, interest in joining ESFNA from Europe, Israel, Australia and the States is rapidly increasing. ESFNA IS NOT CLOSED to the idea of expansion either; but we are faced with predicaments like “how many games can you really play in one day?” “How would we cope with the growing expense of adding more teams?” Next year, we will grow to 27 teams. We also plan to inaugurate Division III to embrace more teams in our fold.Negeru rezeme?|
|24. What are the minimum and maximum ages for the players? SELEDA wants to represent. What should we tell our teenage nephews and great-aunts?||
If you are able to compete and your team believes in you, you can play at any age.
If your nephews are half as good as Freddy Adu (the 14 year old Ghanaian-American phenom), please take him to the nearest club be aschekuai! I don’t know about your great-aunt; she is on her own on this! BTW, the Ethiopian women national team is recording impressive runs in Africa, lately. Cognizant of that fact, ESFNA had girls’ soccer in 2003 ∓ will have more girls’ soccer in 2004. I look forward to it.
|25. How are the cities hosting the event selected and when should ETs in Fargo, North Dakota expect to see you?||
ESFNA, for the sake of parity to member clubs and the Ethiopian community, is divided into two conferences: East and West. Thus, host cities are selected alternatively between each
coast every year. The EC accepts proposals from interested clubs; then, per its internal requirements and site visits, decides where the next tournament will be. In 2004, we’ll be
in the magnificent Seattle Seahawk Stadium. Next year, we’ll go to the East Coast; so far Philadelphia ∓ Atlanta are interested.
There are two chances of ESFNA ever taking the tournament to Fargo, North Dakota: Slim and None ? Yet, again, I heard there are FIVE Ethiopian restaurants in North Dakota (Truly). So, you never know; we go where ETs are!
|26. Do the players have any health insurance? Benefits?||Tiru TiyaQe!!! ESFNA buys players insurance for every soccer tournament and players are covered while on the field. In terms of benefits, in addition to up to $500.00 for transportation during the tournament, each club gets four hotel rooms. Unfortunately, this is the best ESFNA can do at the moment. Please refer to question 22 so you know why I hope to see my dream come true.|
|27. What is your personal favorite thing about the soccer event?||By far, hands down, SEEING MY PEOPLE!!! I love seeing Ethiopians in the thousands, even with all our idiosyncrasies.|
|28. What can the public do to help y'all improve the quality of the field and festivity experience?||1. Abide by the laws of the land and the minor requests ESFNA asks of you at the stadium and hotel; 2. Stop illicit and contained substance uses in hotel and stadium; [Editors: Uh-oh] 3. Let’s not rush to fighting or acting “tough” with one another; 4. It’s okay to get in line and simply wait for our turn; 5. Our annual Ethiopian gathering is a home away from home, our cultural pilgrimage, a one-week solace and vacation for most; thus, let’s make it worthwhile for all by being mindful of true Ethiopian CHewa Bah’riwoch!|
|29. Will you offer SELEDA Inc., free booth space at your next tournament? Will you then allow us to rent it back to ESFNA at cutthroat rates?||The simplest question: No and No!!! Yet again, it may depend on how big and strong your gulbet sebari is.|
|30. Will ESFNA finally have a steroid policy? (Hopefully making it mandatory for those especially sinbiro players from west coast states)||
Demo blach’hu east and west ameTach’hu! Waa!!!
The only “steroid” ESFNA endorses for our players are the following: Le Qurs: Besseo inna Bula; Le Msa: Kitfo inna T’re Siga; Le Erat: diet CH’ko inna aTmit. On behalf of ESFNA, thank you for the opportunity!