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Soccer tournament, festival coming to city

by | Jun 22, 2023 | Latest

An annual soccer tournament for the past four decades will finally touch down in Wylie after taking place in other cities across North Texas.

The opening ceremonies for the 40th Annual ESFNA Tournament are scheduled for noon Sunday, July 2, at Wylie Stadium, which is located at 2550 E. FM 544. The tournament and surrounding culture festival will take place in and around the stadium complex along with two fields from Founders Park. The event schedule indicates the festival will last from noon to 10 p.m. from July 2 through Saturday, July 8.

Founded in 1984, the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America (ESFNA) is dedicated to promoting amateur soccer and cultural events within the United States’ Ethiopian community. The soccer tournament hosted by the nonprofit organization is dedicated to bringing not only Ethiopians from around the world together, but also promoting cultural exchange.

The first tournament was hosted in 1984 in Washington D.C. and hosted four clubs from D.C., Atlanta and Houston. Since, it has grown to over 25 different host cities and a total of 31 amateur teams representing 27 different cities.

The organization has also contributed to humanitarian efforts back in Ethiopia, according to its website.

During the May 30 Wylie City Council meeting, Abiye Nurelegne, president of the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America, said the organization has booked 85 hotel rooms at the city’s three hotels. He also projected millions of dollars in potential revenue for the local economy during the meeting.

As part of the event, several famous Ethiopians will be presented as guests of honor throughout the week. Among the guests of honor this year are 25-year-old forward for the Ethiopian women’s team, Loza Abera, retired long-distance runner and 1980 Olympics bronze medalist Eshetu Tura and former Ethiopian men’s team midfielder, Bekeri Adem.

Speaking back in March, Zewge Kagnew, a representative on the ESFNA, said that he projects the attendance for the event to total between 30,000 and 40,000 people.

“We expect attendance from local communities in addition to supporters across the United States, Canada, Africa and Europe,” Kagnew said.

In partnership with the ESFNA, the city of Wylie authorized $100,000 from its hotel and motel occupancy tax fund to cover costs of the event. The funds are being used to pay staffing costs for first responders assigned to the event.

Individuals interested in attending the event can still obtain passes for the event. There are daily, three-day and weekly passes that provide entry to all areas of the event July 2-8.

A daily pass costs $20 before any fees are added, a three-day pass will cover July 6-8 and cost $70 before fees and a weekly pass costs $110 before fees for entry to all days of the event. A 4% credit card fee will be applied to all transactions and only three-day and weekly pass holders will be allowed to enter and exit the event.

To sign up, attendees will have to provide a first and last name, email address, phone number and picture for the pass. A government-issued ID will be required to pick up passes during business hours at the stadium, and any sold passes are not transferable or refundable.

To purchase passes, visit esfna.org/tournament/week-pass-registration.

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