Le regine d’Africa: il Saint-George SA (Etiopia)


Il Saint-George SA (in amarico: Qədusə Giyorəgisə Yäʾəgərə Wasə Budənə) è una squadra di calcio etiope con sede a Addis Abeba. Fa parte della lega nazionale Ethiopian Football Federation ed il loro stadio è l’Addis Abeba Stadium.
Il club è stato fondato dai greci quando l’Italia fascista invase l’Etiopia nel 1935. Fondata da Ayele Atnash e George Dukas, il club divenne rapidamente il simbolo del nazionalismo etiope ed una rappresentazione del desiderio di libertà della nazione.

Dopo la perdita dell’Etiopia da parte dell’Italia, il club Saint-George si trasformò in breve in un simbolo di identità per molti etiopi. Poiché non c’erano altre squadre etiopi, il Saint-George giocava esclusivamente contro squadre straniere.
Nel 1947, si formò una lega nazionale etiope formata da tre squadre; St. George, Mechale e Ke’ay Bahir. Il club rimase all’interno della Lega per 25 anni, prima che il Derg riorganizzasse le leghe calcistiche, e costrinse tutte le squadre esistenti a fermare ogni attività.
Quattro anni dopo, nel 1976, la squadra tornò con un nuovo nome, Birreria Addis Abeba, con cui continuò a farsi chiamare per diciannove anni.
Nel palmarès figurano 23 campionati etiopi, 8 Coppe d’Etiopia, 9 Supercoppe d’Etiopia e 6 CECAFA Club Cup.

The club was formed by Greeks when Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia in 1935. Founded by Ayele Atnash and George Dukas, the club quickly became the symbol of Ethiopian nationalism and a representation of the country’s quest for freedom.
After the Italians were defeated, St. George briefly turned into a pictogram of identity for many Ethiopians. As there weren’t other Ethiopian clubs, it had been playing against foreign clubs.
In 1947, the country’s national league kicked off with three teams; St. George, Mechale and Ke’ay Bahir. The club remained within the league for twenty-five years before the Derg reorganized the football leagues, and forced all existing clubs to shut down.

Four years later, in 1976 though, it was back with a name change. St. George was named for the Addis Ababa brewery. The tag stayed for nineteen years.
Since 1999, fee-paying supporters have owned St. George. In November 2007, the club had finished raising funds and would begin construction of a new stadium. Budgeted at 312 million Birr, 80% of the cost would be covered by Sheik Mohammed Al Amoudi with the balance to be contributed by the club’s supporters.
Although there is no complete accordance of fact and figures regarding the origin of the globally recognized and loved game of soccer, it was believed to really begin to take shape in England. The history of the game in Ethiopia seemed to have the same conclusion.Historical documentation if not recorded ended up to give an estimated date and place of on the histories of current sport activities; and as such they do not exaggerate the truth but merely support the given circumstantial fact. In general speaking of soccer in Ethiopia and its history, we need to research the origin to objectively base our discussion and writings. Certainly in the case of soccer there seems to be a missing link.The St. George Club was brought into existence some 72 years ago. If questions like when, where and by who were raised then there are few supporting documents to establish some kind of accuracy.

Documents of course are verifying facts. The club in general was founded at the Arada neighborhood in December 1928 with the united effort of the area residents with such people like Mr. Ayale Atnaf and George dukes. Certainly when mentioning the founders, it always needed to have the famed Mr. Yidnekachew’s name along with others; he joined the club after two month of its existence.St. George Club’s uniforms and namesThe first uniform worn by the team was a brown colored diagonally striped over white surface with white shorts and the second one that glorified the pride was an Ethiopian flag on a white surface. This uniform unilaterally magnified the true meaning of the club. Oh! It sure had flooded the fans love and interest on the team for merely making a statement of which the white color signified for peace and the flag for unity, oneness and sacrifices of the many; this was told by those who remembered and witnessed the landscape of the soccer field at the time. However, the invading power of Fascist Italy in 1935 ordered and denied the club from displaying these uniforms as they portray unity and oneness amongst the many Ethiopians.The oppressive Nature of the invading fascists not only took extreme measures up on the club’s popularity they went further to have the name changes to “Lotorio Woubee Sefer Arada”.

Year 1928

Of course, the club’s popularity was never appreciated by the ruling Derge power of which the name was ordered to be renamed “Addis Ababa Beer Club”. The club continued to be named from 1977 until the fall of the Military government. Until 1941, when the Italian invaders were ousted with shame and disgrace, the team continued to wear the designated uniform of blue surfaced with black color over the edges and spent the worst period of the Ethiopian history.After independence and through 1945 the team played with partially white uniform. Thereafter 1945 the most loved uniform with a color of orange with a “V” shaped signifying victory remained in existence as the favorite of the team’s fans. The denotation of which are the hopes of victory, the desire for victory, and this victory brought the state of peace to all concerned.

Year 1960

The St. George team always feels internally to win with its emblem pictured in its wishes with its victory light at the end of the tunnel.During the five years of Italian invasion, there were other teams besides St.George that were founded and needed to be mentioned such as Kebena, Gulele, Sidest Kilo and Entoto. However, these teams were never allowed to play against other teams as they were only limited within their own neighborhood. In fact as a result of strong management and coaching staff they ended up disappearing as teams. But the St. George team stood out alone as the most organized team and lacked to have a competitive team to play against.The first team that St. George played against was a team called Ararat composed of Armenians where St. George won two to nothing. This was the occasion where Mr. Yidnekachew Tessema first appeared to play for the team where he was one of the stars who connected the ball with net of the day. The team continued to improve from time to time and in 1942 the played the Italian team called Fortitudo at the Tanker Field and won 4 to 2. Oh! The angered and depressed Ethiopian on the racist and invading Ethiopia cheered the day for this historic occasion of revenge in the field.
There was not a team who had its ups and down than the St. George Club and fan in the Ethiopian sports federation. As a result of its mere existences the club had paid severe penalties including being dismantles by orders from higher authorities in 1977. The love displayed to the club by the public and the way the team was embraced led authorities to wipe it out from the face of the earth. Thugs continued to rob the team from its outstanding leadership; the trophies were vandalized, the club’s bus contributed by Mr. Hiruy Teklemariam was repossessed.In 1982 there was again the rebirth of the club; the loved uniform came to appear in the scene. However, the team was relegated to a lower position of Division II and played for two years in less known fields of Barnerro and Police. But soon the club regained its old and famed name and started to play in 1985 and took back its leadership.

Addis Abeba Stadium and the new Stadium (project)

The star-studded players such as Solomon (Luci), Dagnachew Demissie, Mulugeta Kebede and G/Medhin Haile of the team continued to exemplified friendly competition and articulated foot-work of the game which lead the team to enjoy again playing in Division I.
It is well known that the Soccer Federation was founded in 1943 with its Articles of Laws where there were five other teams including St. George Club. These teams were British Military, Italian Fortitude, Greek Olypiakous and Armenian’s Ararat. During the first championship competition between the five teams, the British Military Mission won and was awarded a Wall-Clock from the Emperor.
Although the competition was not as fair as it could have been from 1945 through 1948, but St. George Club won the 1942 Trophy.· The club went far and between in maintaining Championship for sometimes but came out to be the winner for continuous three years without any competing team to confront it along the championship.
The thirst for championship again appeared after a long absence with new players who raised the level of football techniques to a modern standard and thereby entitled the club its championship without any equal and the same level teams from 1966 through 1968.

Year 1999

From 1970 to 1973 the club became the sole possessor of the trophy. In 1985 the team became the champion and their star player Mulugeta Kebede became the most valuable player of the year.
Again in 1986 the team became the sole Champion of the Ethiopian Soccer League in the city of Addis Ababa resulting in with Getu Kebede for most goals scoring and Solomon Yohannes for excellence in the field. For three consecutive years of 1993, 1994 and 1995 gracefully won the championship and became the sole trophy owner.

For more details


articolo a cura di/ article by Mario Bocchio

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