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Today wants to remember a man largely accepted as the father of modern sports and specifically football of Ethiopia and Africa Yidnekachew Tessema.

Born in September 11, 1921 in Jimma Ethiopia, the young Yidnekachew started playing football at the age of eight. At the age of 14, he joined his first and only club Saint George football club, giving them 23 solid years of service between 1935-1958. He scored 318 goals in 365 fixtures fo the horsemen during the period, and he holds a record for scoring 43 of 47 goals scored by his team in a single season.

Yidnekachew played 15 times for the Ethiopian national football team “Walia Ibex” between 1948-54 scoring three times.

He served as Coach for the Saint George and the Walias during the decorated career. He brought to Ethiopia a new style of play and it was under his stewardship that the team won the third African Cup of Nations in 1962 at the age of 41.

In 1943 Yidnekachew opened the first sports office in the country with his colleague Amde Mikael Desalegn where he translated the rules of football to the native Amharic language, trained referees, coaches and administrative staffs. He was instrumental in opening the country to outside contacts and international competitions.

Yidnekachew’s contribution to sports in the African continent started with pioneering efforts and subsequent successes in establishing of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in1964. He then served the body as deputy president between 1964-1972 and as president between 1972-87. He was also member of the African Sports Congress, International Olympics Committee, (IOC), FIFA and African Oympics Committee.

Yidnekachew was strongly opposed to accepting sports clubs based on race and religion. He was also opposed to tobacco and alcohol related advertisements by companies in stadiums and during sports events. Yidnekachew’s contribution to the anti-apartheid movement was emmense; he prevented South Africa from participating in the African and World sports events during the oppressive regime.

Yidnekachew died on august 19, 1987 at the age 65 due to long term illness.

Report by Firew Asrat.

African Football Writer contributing @Soka25east | Commentator; appeared on @MySoccerAfrica, @KweseSports, @ntvkenya, others | Keen follower of African Football. E-mail:

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