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Yidnekatchew Tessema
Mengistu Worku

St. George Gallery

Youth Programs

St Gorge FC’s Youth Clubs

youth1A cursory glance at the extant literature on St Gorge’s glorious and colorful history reveals the historical tie between the club and the youth. The 72 year old club itself was established by a group of very young children mainly from the villages in and around Piazza, the central part of Addis Ababa symbolic of the roots of cosmopolitanism, and young boys from the various parts of Addis and also the regions have remained sources of talented players to the club ever since.

In addition to the senior squad, St Gorge FC’s under 20 and under 17 sides have historically been strong contenders for titles in Addis Ababa’s youth leagues and have won several titles in the last 50 years or so. These two young sides have produced some of the country’s most famous players both to the senior squad and the Ethiopian national team. In particular, players from the clubs youth teams in the early fifties have made phenomenal contributions both to St Gorge FC and the national team. Among them is Getachew Abebe, nick named ‘Dula” ( the Amharic word for stick) and arguably the country’s best goalie ever. Getachew captained both his club and the Ethiopian national team for over seventeen years in all sorts of international matches including six African cup of nations tournaments. Other similar great players from the 1950s youth sides include Dr Tekeda Alemu, Solomon Terfa, Seyoum Abate, Tesfaye Tilahun, Zerihun Mohammed(Turk), Mohammed Buker to mention just a few. Among the ones mentioned above, Dr Tekeda Alemu is currently State Minister of Foreign Affairs for the government of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia. Dr Tekeda still holds the record of scoring the most goals in an international match after scoring five goals in one match against Somalia in the 1960s.

In the 1960s too, St Gorge FC’s youth squads won several titles and produced another group of extremely talented young players that provided a distinguished service both to the senior squad and the national team. These include the unforgettable Geberu Wolde Amanuel, Ayaya Arega, Sebesbie Assefa, Seven Tesfa, Girum Yidnekachew, Solomon Mekonen(Lucho), most of whom are now living in Diaspora in the United States of America. As usual, not only the youth squads continued to be a pool of young talent in the decades that followed but also showed absolute supremacy in the Addis Ababa Youth tournaments. In the 1980s the provision of such young talents as Fasil Tekalign, Zerihun Shengeta, and Ashenafi Sisay both to the senior squad and the national team, marks the sides unwavering commitment towards the constant supply of hugely talented players. At present, two of the clubs key and influential captains, Mulualem Regassa and Samson Mulugeta, came from the clubs late 80s and early 90s youth sides.

Current Youth Clubs

youth2Due the vagaries of funding and administrative anomalies on the part of both the club and the Addis Ababa Foot ball federation, St Gorge FC did not have both the under 20 and the under 17 sides for about seven years until 2006/2007 season. This caused the unfortunate situation where by the club should entirely rely on the transfer market as source of players for the senior squad. In a club with a history of playing at least half of its starting eleven players nurtured with the winning tradition and the fighting spirit that epitomize love and dedication to St Gorge shirt while they play for its youth side, squads entirely composed of players from the transfer market could not satisfy the wish of its die-hard supporters if not the results. As a result, there have been some serious misgivings about and criticisms on the clubs inability to re establish and run youth sides that have traditionally been a trade mark of the clubs contribution to the development of the country’s football.

Addis Ababa Village Teams Annual Tournament

In the summer of 2006, one of the 12 select committees established to celebrate the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of St Gorge FC (the PR committee) came up with the proposal of holding a youth tournament among village teams of Addis Ababa with a view to promoting the eventful celebration of the 70s Anniversary and recruiting young players to re establish the clubs youth sides. The tournament hosted 16 village teams and as usual Mr Abinet Gebre Mesekel, the most dedicated and charismatic chairperson of St Gorge’s Sport Association governing board fully sponsored the competition. With two of its committed supporters Mr Solomon Amare and Mr Yosef Alemayehu organizing the tournament, and Mr Seridiovich Milutin(Mitcho), head coach of St Gorge senior squad, recruiting the young talents from the 16 teams, the competition turned out to be quite a success. This paved the way for the re establishment of the youth sides and the under 17 side took part in the 2006/7 Addis Ababa youth league and subsequently finished third in the league table.

The Addis Ababa village clubs tournament continued to be hosted by the club the following year and this year too, thanks to the generous sponsorship Mr Abinet Gebere Meskel. In 2007 this tournament hosted 36 village teams and St Gorge FC was again able to recruit some 25 players to re establish its under 20 youth side which is now taking part in this seasons Addis youth league. The 2007 tournament ‘Yidnekachew Cup’ named after the great Yidnekachew Tesema founder of St Gorge FC and former president of CAF for 16 years presented an opportunity for over 700 hundred players to show their talents. The closing ceremony of the 2007 tournament was presided over by Mr Abinet Gbere Meskel, Mr Addisu Yidnekachew, son of the late Mr Yidnekachew Tesema, St Gorge FC officials and friends of the club and Mr Yidnekachew.

This year’s tournament for the Addis Ababa village teams was held at the ‘Janmeda’ sports facility center and at the Abebe Bikila Stadium with 24 teams representing various parts of Addis Ababa taking part in the competition between 19 May and 8 June 17, 2008. Upon the request of all the village teams this year’s tournament was named ‘Abinet Cup’ as a tribute to his selfless contribution to the development of youth football. As usual, the 480 players who participated in this year’s tournament have enjoyed the opportunity of recruitment by clubs playing in the various leagues. This tournament will be hosted annually in the years to come with full sponsorship from Mr Abinet Gebre Meskel who we can not thank enough.

Facilities for Youth Squads

Both the under 17 and under 20 sides train three times a week at the clubs rented training center in the premises of kebele 23 recreation center in the Bole sub-city and dine at the clubs hostel where the senior squad resides. To be honest the adequacy of facilities provided to the youth clubs at the moment leaves a lot to be desired. At present, the club provides transport facilities for three training days in a week and on weekend match days, training materials (shirts, shoes, balls, etc.,), Br 100 (a little over 9 USD) per month as pocket money, and one meal per each training session and on match days.