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ESFNA: A Brief History

The Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA) is a non-profit, tax-exempt organization founded in 1984 to promote amateur soccer and cultural events within the Ethiopian community in North America. ESFNA holds a week long soccer tournament every year.  Using the soccer tournament as a medium, the organization’s highest aim is to bring Ethiopians together for a multitude of reasons.

ESFNA, by virtue of its legal status, is free of political, religious, and ethnic affiliations and organizations. We have adhered to this position all along because our focus is to promote sports and culture. However, outside of the sports events, ESFNA has contributed in initiatives to be part of development and humanitarian efforts in Ethiopia.

ESFNA's Growth

ESFNA’s growth in North America has its roots in Ethiopians’ migration to the United States and Canada—especially since the 1980s. Although there were some inter-state friendly soccer competitions in both coasts of the US amongst Ethiopians, the foundation of ESFNA was first envisioned by Ethiopians residing in the cities of Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

The First Tournament

The first tournament was held in Houston with the participation of four clubs (Washington D.C., Dallas, Houston, and Atlanta) on April 20, 1984. A year later, the tournament was held in Washington D.C. with additional clubs.

Founding Principles

Some of the founding principles of ESFNA were borne out of the desire for Ethiopians at the time and in the future to have something they claim as their own for generations. A week-long occasion at which Ethiopians can come together to celebrate their culture, identity and assure the continuity of their ideals in perpetuity. It was a vision of organizing a platform at which Ethiopians can come to express their humanity through sports and other cultural interactions amongst themselves and the North American community. Its goals are also providing positive role models for the youth by inviting famous Ethiopians who have done much for their country through sports, arts and the humanities.

Cultural Mecca

Over the past three decades, ESFNA has become a cultural and sports Mecca for Ethiopians in North America. Every year, thousands of Ethiopians and friends of Ethiopia spend one week in one of the 25 North American cities selected as a host city. Visitors interact with hundreds of food and dry good vendors and non-profit charitable organizations in one venue. However, much happens surrounding the soccer tournament independent of ESFNA—which is exactly what the organization envisioned since its inception. Along the way, every year, Ethiopians spend millions of dollars in the host city–making a major contribution to the local economy.
  • Did you Know?

The Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America has a rich history that stretches several years. This year, 2013, ESFNA will celebrate its 30th anniversary in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. From four teams in 1984 it has now grown to 30 teams. Over 800 players and coaches participate in our yearly tournament. The tournament has been held in 15 major cities in North America. We have invited over 40 notable Ethiopians as Guests of Honor.