Dear ESFNA family,
I wish you a happy and prosperous 2014!
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season celebrating Christmas, New Year, and Ethiopian holidays with all your friends and loved ones. As we warm up to 2014, we need to recharge and focus on our responsibilities to continue our unparalleled tradition of “Bringing Ethiopians Together” for the 31st time in the beautiful San Francisco-San Jose Bay area. Although he has been working diligently since his election in October; first, I would like to officially welcome the newest member of the executive committee, our Public Relation Officer (PR), Samson Mulugeta from LA Stars. Sammy is a veteran Board member who has previously worked in the PR committee for several years. Sammy brings a lot of energy and polished communication skills to this very important position. While I welcome Sammy, I would like to say thank you and Godspeed to the outgoing PR Yohannes Birhanu. Johnny, ESFNA will ever be indebted to you and your family for your contribution to the success of ESFNA.
2013 was quite an emotional rollercoaster, but with hard work we were able to meet most of our goals because our mission is noble and we are tough and battle tested. Our most important accomplishment in 2013 is the successful celebration of our 30th anniversary tournament in spite of the protracted attack from our adversaries. The group who openly waged war against ESFNA that we defeated in courts in 2012 and rejected by the Ethiopian people changed their tactic in 2013 by waging a clandestine war to sabotage our tournament. They will no doubt try again this year. As I said last year, we cannot afford to let our guards down; we have to maintain our vigilance.
Can we blame all our problems during the 2013 tournament on our adversaries? Not really. We have contributed quite a bit ourselves by not learning from our past mistakes, anticipating challenges and planning for it. Unintentionally or not, not including our Muslim brothers and sisters in the opening day ceremonies is a mistake we made in 2008 that we repeated again in 2013. No excuse for that. By not anticipating the restriction the stadium officials imposed on us, we failed to timely communicate the numerous game schedule changes to the teams that created frustration and confusion among our players and their fans. Although we were quite overwhelmed by the number of people that came to the stadium on Ethiopian day, we should have anticipated it and put in place a contingency plan to avoid the closure of the stadium that prevented thousands of Ethiopians from celebrating Ethiopian day. The sound system failure during the Ethiopian Day and closing night ceremonies was a major embarrassment which could have been avoided; an inexcusable failure on our part. We could have done better and we will.
On the positive side, our well thought out plan and execution of the dedication of the tournament to celebrate the Ethiopian Women was a great success that will be talked about for years to come. Our collaboration with the Center for the Rights of Ethiopian Women (CREW) by providing them a modest financial support as well as giving them opportunity to fund raise and promote their project on Ethiopian domestic workers in the Middle Eastern countries was not only a great success but also very timely in light of the recent barbaric treatment inflicted against thousands Ethiopians living Saudi Arabia. ESFNA has also contributed over $12,000 to start a fund raising campaign to help the Saudi victims. The memorable speech by W/r Mamitu Gashe, one of the world's most experienced fistula surgeons, who came all the way from Ethiopia, was the highlight of the Ethiopian Day celebration. W/r Mamitu who is dubbed the “Illiterate Surgeon” by a New York Times reporter had herself suffered from the dreaded obstetric fistula as a teenager now helps thousands of teenage girls that suffer from this condition. Throughout the week long event, ESFNA has helped W/r Mamitu and Hamlin Fistual Hospital in Addis Ababa by promoting their cause and helping them with fund raising activities.
In 2014, we are heading to the beautiful San Jose/San Francisco Bay area to celebrate our 31st anniversary. The weather will be great and the strong Bay area Ethiopian community is anxious to welcome us and the thousands of Ethiopians that make their annual pilgrimage to our event. In 2014, we will also be ratifying our much awaited revised bylaws which is long overdue. Your Executive Team is ready to make this year a memorable one. We know you will be behind us with your support and timely counselling when we stray from our mission. Our success depends on all of us, players and club officials, working together towards a common goal and maintaining our unity.
I wish you and your loved ones a wonderful new year and may God bless ESFNA,