Sunday, November 15, 2009

Africa's World Cup must bring an African Champion.

     An African nation has never won a world cup and with some of the international game's top players today coming from Africa the chances of an African champion is likely to become a reality in South Africa this summer. I hope Africa will come away with the FIFA world cup trophy and show the world that it's time for an African team to shine. South Africa 2010 will mark the best opportunity for an African team for the first time ever. Not only is the event being held in the African continent but also there will be more African teams taking part than ever.

                      Can Drogba and Ivory Coast win the title?

The West Africans seem to be dominating this year's contingency as Nigeria in a last minute rally defeated Kenya 3-2 and with the loss of Tunisia to Mozambique 1-0, the super eagles found a way to fly higher than the Carthage eagles by securing a flight to South Africa. The other teams from the neighborhood include, Didier Drogba and the elephants of Ivory Coast, the black stars of Ghana lead by Michael Essien, and the indomitable lions who will field Samuel Eto as one of their stars. The Pharaohs of Egypt will play Algeria on Wednesday November 18th, 2009 in Sudan as they both ended up with the same amount of points for the fifth spot, while hosts South Africa have already locked in a spot.

                             The blogger with Michael Essien of Ghana.

Hassan Shehata who probably will go down as one of my favorite players ever is enjoying some success as the head coach of Egypt. He did it again as thousands of fans joined in what was an exciting game in Cairo on Saturday. The only negative thing to mention is that fans in Egypt who are too emotional attacked the Algerian bus hurting a couple of the Algerian players slightly. This should be un-accepted behavior and FIFA should warn the Egyptian federation and govt. from allowing hooligans to act that way in the future. Egypt with a 2-0 win secured a playoff game against the desert warriors to be played in a neutral country. Let us not forget the Algerians spirit of a winning attitude as they shocked the world in 1982 with a 2-1 victory over perennial powers the former West Germany that lost to Italy in the championship game. It was their first world cup and they played a role in exposing African soccer with their ability to perform at a high level.

Meanwhile the host team South Africa has a great opportunity to show that Africa is capable of hosting a good event and I pray that the media will cover the entire world cup in a fairly manner even if Africa keeps the cup at home. We are now less than seven month away from the most prestigious event in the world and it is Africa's turn to win. Hopefully the new generation of young stars can win it for all those who sacrificed for the game in the past, despite the terrible treatment the continent got over the years. It's time for Africa to shine.

Good luck to South Africa and the Africa.

For more on the results and the entire world cup stay tuned to Eri-international sports blog. Mean while our reliable sources have indicated that Eritrean Swede star Henok Goitom will be back with his team Almeria of La Liga starting next week. We will keep you informed. In other soccer news, the Eritrean National senior team is slated to participate in the CECAFA senior challenge cup to be held in Nairobi starting on November 28th, 2009. All eleven teams from the region and Zambia as a guest team will take part; meanwhile Libya has expressed an interest in joining as guest. The drawings of the tournament will take place on Wed. November 18th, 2009. We will keep you updated along with the result of the Egypt vs. Algeria game for the last spot of the world cup from the African continent.

Mike Seium

For Eri-International sports blog. 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Valencia Spain Here comes Kelati.

     Eri-international sports has learned once again that Thomas Kelati will be going back to Spain. The sharp shooting guard/Small forward was signed with the team for the rest of this season, Valencia officially announced Monday. Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and one of the most beautiful cities on the west coast of Spain. Kelati last played for Unicaja, where he averaged 11.8 points in 16 Euroleague games last season. He had just signed with Olympiacos of Greece over the summer when his contract got voided. He made his move to the United Sates where he continued to stay fit by playing throughout the summer. He was signed with the Los Angeles Lakers and had a great stint during the pre-season.

                                 City of Valencia, Spain on the west coast of Spain.

     According to our reliable sources, "Coach Phil Jackson and the Laker organization were very impressed with his performance, but had to waive him simply because of Salary cap". Thomas has left a good impression on the Lakers and hopefully will be back playing in the NBA next season, more than likely with the Lakers. Meanwhile he has signed a one-year contract with Valencia where he will play in a tough Spanish League against his former team Unicaja. Last season Kelati tied the record for the most three-pointers made in a single Euroleague game where it has never been done in a decade. He scored nine times from behind the three-point line in a home win against Lottomatica Roma. 

                    An older picture of Kelati playing against his new team Valencia
     Thomas has strongly expressed his gratitude to all of his fans throughout the world for all their support. He hopes to come back strong next season and perform in the NBA. Keep an eye on the Spanish La Liga of basketball as well as the European League where he will be one of the top players to watch. Congratulations to Thomas Kelati and his family. Hope to see him in a Laker uniform next year.

Mike Seium for 
Eri-International sports

Friday, November 6, 2009

Meet Mulugheta Asihel: Up and coming College soccer star.

 College Athletics in the United States play a big role towards developing great citizens and possibly great athletes. As most of you know you don't have to look any further than most of the great collegiate athletes who have turned out to be professional athletes that have gone on to become the very best in their respective profession whatever it may be. It is with pleasure that I introduce to you a young man whom I have had the honor of following for the past couple of years as a student and a soccer player. 
A potential star this player has so much poise, skill and a can do attitude. He is a young man born to Eritrean parents and those who follow the Eritrean Sports Federation in North America annual sports festival may have seen him play in Dallas 2008, where the team he played for Alexandria won it's fourth title.

His name is Mulugheta Asihel and he graduated from Robert. E. Lee high school in Springfield, Virginia this past summer. Mulu as his friends know him was also on a select travel soccer team since his younger days where he excelled in every aspect of his game. His family especially his father has been very supportive in his Mulu's success and the result has been nothing but a great future for this young man. Spending lots of time traveling and also encouraging and investing in his child is something every parent should emulate. As an observer I have been watching Mulu play for a couple of years and can say that he has what it takes to be a great person but even more a great soccer player.                                                                                                                              
Mulu decided that it would be best to attend Junior college and get a great exposure before he transfers to a major four-year program. He was highly recruited by four-year schools but he decided to attend College of Southern Maryland where he has had an outstanding season as a midfielder/Forward player. College of Southern Maryland is in the Maryland Junior college Region twenty conference at the division one level. It also happens to be in the same division as my alma mater now known as Hagerstown Community College. Maryland Juco and especially region twenty has produced some of the top soccer and baseball players in the United States at every level including at the professional level. There is no doubt in my mind that Mulu has what it takes to be the best. He proved it last week when he was selected as one of the top players getting ALL STAR recognition alongside of his two team mates during the final of the region twenty conference championships, that I had the honor of witnessing. It brought me back to the good old days when my brother and I played in one of the toughest divisions. In our first year as a full fledged team, we had an incredible run of 13-3-1 losing to Charles community college currently know as College of Southern Maryland, where Mulugheta has been a star player.

Picture above: The writer of this blog sitting second to the left as member of the historic Hagerstown Junior college soccer team that went 13-3-1 in it's first year as a team representing the school.

Michael Seium for,

Eri-International sports blog.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Eritrean Americans are Americans too.

Eritrean Americans are Americans Too.

After Native Americans and the real indigenous people were unfairly shoved aside in the beginning of what we now know as America, it was immigrants that founded the modern day United States of America. The America that prides itself as the most strong and advanced nation on earth. As part of a melting pot from all continents throughout the world, members of immigrant families have contributed their share in every sector of American society. They are from Europe Africa, Asia, South America, Oceania, and Latin America. The America founded by immigrants has also done its fair share of terrible things in order to protect its selfish interests. You see, it was in the 1950’s when the very same nation that New York City marathon Champion runner Meb Keflezghi waived his flag for, the United States of America, committed a major crime against the Eritrean people by forcefully annexing it to Ethiopia. The secretary of state at that time John Foster Dulles and the State department did not foresee that one day a young Eritrean born kid would represent the United States in the Olympics or that same person would be the first American to win the New York City Marathon. Let's go back to memory lane & recite the a quote from secretary Dulles in 1952,
 From the point of view of justice, the opinions of the Eritrean people must receive consideration. Nevertheless, the strategic interests of the United States in the Red Sea Basin and considerations of security and world peace make it necessary that the country [Eritrea] be linked with our ally, Ethiopia.”
Only if more Americans knew what Eritreans had to endure during these troubled times, they would appreciate their lives more. So how did Eritreans respond back? They did not dwell on the negative but decided that they needed to do something in order to get their dignity back. They rose up and stood up to claim what was theirs. The thirty-year struggle against occupation and rampant racism molded them into a strong, hard working people, united amongst nine ethnic groups and two major religions. In the process which took more than four decades, Eritreans were also being forced to leave their homes in large numbers and join the mass migration to the Middle East, Europe and the United States from the African continent  like other immigrants before them.
Meb Keflezghi who made his way with his large family to southern California is a by product of this migration and like lots of Americans who came here to seek a better life, he went to high school in San Diego, college at UCLA where he won four NCAA titles and won a silver at the 2004 Olympics in Athens for the United States. He was well educated by the system that provided him refuge and taught him to be a good citizen. He was trained and built ready made to run in the toughest conditions right here in the USA. He took on the challenge with sheer determination, hard work and ethics. I can guarantee you that there are millions of other immigrants who had the same opportunity as he did but he happened to shine and he became a success story as a result of hardwork. His strong discipline as an individual and an excellent family value which is a huge part of the Eritrean culture & add to that some great coaching at UCLA to go along with it, Meb proved that anyone, can become the best at anything they set out to do.

                                            The writer of this blog with Eritrean American NYC Champion in 2006.
As an Eritrean American myself who has made my home here for more than 25 years, I am outraged by certain media coverage and responses about the Eritrean American runner who also happens to be a friend. Eritrean American immigrants are among the hard working population of America’s melting pot. They are well educated, they value respect for all human beings no matter where they come from, they are kind, and self reliant, all threats that they brought with them to their adopted homeland of the United States many years ago. Like millions of other immigrant Americans who have paid their dues, Eritrean Americans have been a great Diaspora that have been able to intermix their great culture and assimilate it to the lifestyle of America. They are law-abiding citizens for the most part, they are active in their communities. They in the true sense should be embraced by America as they are a classic example of the term "It takes a village to raise a child". They also happen to love sports and the writer of this blog can strongly vouch for that. Yo can even ask Meb Keflezghi.  
CNBC sports writer Darren Rovell probably wishes he did not write a racist article about the Eritrean-American champion athlete of the NY city marathon who has been demeaned and disrespected at the very least.  Rovell who claims to have run the NYC marathon failed to do his research before he pulled the trigger. CNBC's editorial managers also failed. Could it be by coincidence or purposely done to create controversy? It begs the question as to why racism is still so rampant in today’s America. As an Eritrean-American sports buff I would like to make a point and also tell the story of a great American athlete and of a racist America which we must always remind people about in order to eradicate this ugly disease.  It is the story of probably the best US athlete of the 20th Century a sportsman of melting-pot heritage, child of part Native American, Irish and French parents. His name was Jim Thorpe and he was in the 1950’s named the best American athlete by sports writers for the first half of the 20th Century. Thorpe was a multi athlete who excelled at everything he did. He won the Olympic gold in pentathlon and decathlon, and starred in football, baseball and basketball at the highest level of competition. By 1950, when diagnosed with cancer, and on March 28, 1953, Jim Thorpe died of complications from a heart attack. Only after his death was the racism and unfairness publicly recognized with which Jim Thorpe was treated. His sacrifice and ill treatment was never told while he was alive. He did not have a medium to speak up. Thank god to new media and technology articles like Rovell's and the many other racist statements that were written about Meb have been repulsed. My point in bringing Jim Thorpe into this story is because people like him are those who paved the way for other Americans to succeed and be the best they can be. The Thorpes and Jackie Robinsons and the thousands of immigrant and minority athletes are those who opened doors for some of the best athletes America has produced including Meb Keflezghi. They also opened the doors to other important positions for immigrants and children of immigrants. Look no further than the top executive of the United States of America. Meb can be put in the same category as he stands today as the top American runner. There is no doubt that he will even go down as the greatest long distance runner in American history when he is done. Racist columnists and sports writers must stop their arrogance and respect all athletes no matter what as long as they are RIGHTFULLY & LEGALY AMERICANS. Many years after the battle for civil rights and many years after so many people paid dearly we continue to witness stains of the dirty & ugly piece of Americana. Darren has apologized as a result of responses from outraged citizens of America from all walks of life. They were highly offended by what he said. He was forced to respond as follows,
All I was saying was that we should celebrate an American marathon champion who has completely been brought up through the American system. This is where, I must admit, my critics made their best point. It turns out, Keflezighi moved to the United States in time to develop at every level in America. So Meb is in fact an American trained athlete and an American citizen and he should be celebrated as the American winner of the NYC Marathon. That makes a difference and makes him different from the "ringer" I accused him of being. Meb didn't deserve that comparison and I apologize for that.
While I commend him for his apology, as a sports writer he should have done his homework. It would have been much easier to research rather than assume that another African with a weired name has just won the NYC Marathon for America. Let us not forget that, as Americans the stories that have shaped this nation into a superpower is not it’s arrogance, but it’s amazing stories of immigrants. Immigrant Americans built this nation and they will break it if not respected and treated with dignity and respect. So that we are aware, like Meb Keflezghi many immigrant Americans have played a big role in the well being of this nation and continue to do so today.

                                          The writer of the blog with Martina Navratilova an Immigrant American.
Just to name a few, Henry Kissinger, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Madeline Albright, Albert Einstein, Martina Navratilova whom I have had the pleasure of meeting. If we went further and even spoke about children of immigrants then I would not have enough space on this blog. So the point I am making, every American should celebrate Meb's victory as it is for America by an American runner who happens to be born in Eritrea.
FYI: Eritreans like other immigrants play major roles and contribute in building grass roots movements in many sports including football, running, Soccer, college woman’s and men’s basketball and more. Don’t be surprised if the next Eritrean American is an NBA or NFL star or one that will represent the US in an Olympic event. It’s bound to happen sooner than later. Sports writers and every American should embrace them and remember that it is the spirit of competition that binds humans together rather than where they came from. I want to say that I am an advocate of Eritrean American sports and will continue to enlighten people about their great achievements.
The writer of this blog is an Eritrean American sports journalist who has covered major events, including the US national soccer team, the NBA, NFL and major college sports as well as other American sports.
Mike Seium
Eri-international sports blog.