What is your name and home field location?
Daniel Ijigu. Our home field is James Finnegan Playground.
What is your connection to Ethiopia?
I am a player, board member, motivational speaker, and assistant coach.
What made you interested in participating in the Unity Cup?
I am interested in the Unity Cup because we have a very similar organization. Our organization, Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA), has been established since 1984. Hopefully, after participating in the Unity Cup, we are hoping to better our recreation center and to have a better soccer field.
How did your team come together? Can you tell us a bit about the rest of your team?
We started in 1984 in Philadelphia, PA, with 15 Ethiopian guys ready to play around and form a positive team that will empower the community. Most of these guys live in the community around Philadelphia and go to high school or universities. Also, we participate in ESFNA all year-round, all over the States.
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.
What does soccer mean to your community?
It means a lot to my community and neighborhood children, it keeps them out of trouble.
Why is soccer important to you personally?
I have been playing soccer since I was four years old. I’ve played amateur and semi-pro.
How has soccer made your life better?
Soccer has been a part of my life for a very long time. It is a stress reliever. It makes me happy and more involved with the youth and the community.
Why do you think soccer is so popular around the world?
I believe players around the world are highly passionate about the game. The rivalries, no off-season, low poverty obstacles, international competition, and diversity help make it popular.
What places (such as restaurants or cultural centers) or groups in Philadelphia would you recommend to someone if they wanted to learn more about Ethiopian culture?
I’d recommend Abyssinia restaurant (229 S 45th St).
What’s one thing you wish more people knew about Ethiopia?
Ethiopia is the home of the Ark of the Covenant and the fourth most sacred site of Islam. Ethiopia is also rich in history and has a diverse crowd. Ancient Axum is the home of the Queen of Sheba, it is also known to be one of the wonders of the world. Ethiopia is the hub of Africa.