Monday, March 27, 2017

Eritrean National team player Henok Goitom scores for AIK. Alexander Isak Scores for Sweden under 19.

Two of the hottest soccer figures in Sweden these days since Zlatan Ibrahimovic continue to play their role in the Swedish soccer scene as they both had a splendid weekend. While Henok Goitom is back and getting comfortable with AIK Stockholm, his younger Eritrean-Swede protege Alexander Isak saved the Swedish under 19 team from an early exit in the European under 19 qualifications for the 2017 championship to be held in Georgia.


The Swedish premier league otherwise known as the allsvenskan starts its 2017 season on Saturday April 1st. AIK will take on BK Hacken and without Borussia Dortmund transfer Alexander Isak who scored more than 10 goals last season. However, Henok Goitom is back after making a short stint in Spain. He also spent his summer in California with the MLS San Jose Earthquakes and has become a new father.  Henok played for about 60 minutes against
IFK Norrkoping this weekend where he scored a beautiful goal in a 2-1 victory.


Henok has also been touted to be a TV color analyst for Eurosport Sweden where he has been praised as a knowledgeable expert on the game of soccer and the Swedish soccer scene. He has already called games for the Swedish under 21 team against Serbia. This is not Henok's first time as a TV analyst, he made several guest appearances during the 2014 world cup that was held in Brazil. While his role as a player and TV analyst are going to keep him busy, it should also be noted that his contribution to helping build a strong Eritrean national team could help the Red Sea Camels in the long run. A good 2017 for Henok as embarks on many new opportunities this season.



Alexander Isak meanwhile was called up for duty this past week to play for the Swedish under 19 squad that is playing in the elite round of the European Championships in Group 7 out of 7 groups where the group winners only get to join Georgia in their home turf for the championships being held this summer. In group 7 Ireland, Italy, Belgium and Sweden are the teams and so far Sweden has lost 2-1 to host Belgium while they defeated Ireland 3-0 with Alexander scoring the third goal of the game and helped acquire 3 points and 4 goals for his team. Meanwhile, Ireland has defeated Italy 2-0 and tied Italy 1-1. Tomorrow's game is a must win for Sweden as they take on Italy while Belgium takes on Ireland. If Belgium wins then they will be the group winners as they will have 7 points. In order for Sweden to advance Belgium has to lose or tie and Sweden must win no matter what. Hoping to see Alexander Isak shine once again. It does not matter what team (under 19, Under 21 or the senior national team) He is destined to make a difference.

For Eri-International sports blog.

Mike Seium








Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Eritrean-Swede Alexander Isak makes debut for Borussia Dortmund. Henok Goitom Back at AIK Stockholm 2017.

Eritrean-Swede Teenage sensation made his debut for Borussia Dortmund on March 14th, 2017 in the 86th, minute of a quarter-final game for the DFB Cup against Sportfreunde Lotte. Competing for a starting spot against some of the world's most seasoned players is no easy task, but  Coach Thomas Tuchel decided that it was time to put the 17-year-old Eritrean-Swede into the game considering that international star Gabonese Pierre Emerick Aubameyang was not able to play. 

Coach Tuchel seems to think Alexander is the future of his team.
The manager who thinks very highly of young Alex took out veteran Gonzalo Castro towards the end of the game to put him in this important game. While 4 minutes to the end of the game might not be enough, Alexander moved around well clearly showing that he is in sync with the team. What makes it even more exciting is the fact that he has been cool, calm and collected throughout the entire ordeal waiting for his opportunity to come. 

Alexander making his debut for Borussia Dortmund.

The great behavior and the special persona makes this wonder kid a player that any team would love to have. Already many top teams are regretting that they were not able to sign him. Borussia has a game this weekend March 17th, 2017 against Ingolstadt while they continue to play 2 more games until the next big match on April 8th, 2017 against the blogger's team in the Bundesliga Bayern Munich which will be followed with a second game on April 25, 2017. Watch out for Alexander Isak as he gradually makes his way into the Borussia line up.
FYI: Alexander Isak is not the first Eritrean to play in the Bundesliga as a couple of years ago Joel Gherezgiher played for Frankfurt. 

Henok Goitom Returns to AIK Stockholm again.

Eritrean National team forward Henok Goitom is back to Sweden once again. He made his debut since he last played with AIK in 2015 as he went in towards the end of the game at the 78 minute mark. The game which Hacken was leading by 3 goals was a intra league play which did not have lots of implication just yet. After playing in Spain, the MLS and a possible trade to China and Venice, Italy, the best choice for Henok and his growing family a recently new dad, was back home where he started in Sweden. Henok is also getting back at full speed and will be able to help his team as well as Alexander's last team regain its status as one of the top teams in the Swedish Allsvenskan (Premier League).


                                                Henok Goitom back at AIK

Eri-International sports will continue to follow up on this and other important sports news stories related to the Eritrean communities around the world. Stay tuned as more stories and interviews will be coming your way soon.

Mike Seium 

For Eri-International sports blog.







Monday, February 6, 2017

Eritrean Coach Nahom Ghidey: Transforming international Soccer stars at Sweden's AIK. Interview with Eri-international Sports blog.

Nahom Ghidey currently serves as UEFA A, UEFA Elite Youth A as well as a Video and Performance Analyst for Sweden’s premier league team AIK Stockholm. So who really is Nahom? Nahom was born in Eritrea and moved to Hanover Germany as a six year old. In an interview he conducted with Eri-International sports, Nahom shares some intimate times in his career as a coach. He moved to Solna, Sweden a suburb of Stockholm after living in Germany for many years. After a stint in the German Bundesliga for club Hannover 96 – Nahom made his way to AIK where he has advanced as an important part of the coaching staff, starting from the youth team to the senior team.
Coach Nahom Ghidey of AIK.

He was recently featured on a Swedish national magazine as one of the people who has played a huge role in the development of young international rising star Alexander Isak as well as other players whom he has helped making headlines all over the world.
Eritrean coach reaching out to all including our brothers from West African.

Nahom has also mentored other Eritrean players in including the likes of Tesfalidet Tekie and players of many different nationalities throughout Sweden. He has the potential to be a great coach maybe someday leading top-flight teams as a Director and in the process helping the Eritrean national program to grow into its rightful place as a top soccer-playing nation. Eri-international sports blog brings you Nahom Ghidey of AIK.

Questions for Coach Nahom Ghidey of AIK Stockholm,

1. First of all when did you start playing soccer/football, could you take us back to when you started and where you started to play the sport?

I started to play football like most people at a young age in my neighborhood in Asmara Eritrea. I grew up in a football playing family, football and music was part of family. I had the chance to learn and play football with and from my big brothers who were very talented football players. Joel Ghidey who was playing in the German 2nd tier league (may be you know him from Eri-TV music contest program “Shingrwa”) and Natnael Ghidey.

At the end of 1970s we came as refugees to Hannover (Germany) and of course I continued to do what I loved to do and that was playing football. During that time we did not have dreams to empower ourselves and to be a professional football player, rather our dream and focus was to see a free and independent Eritrea. Football was more a hobby and we played it for fun. Every minute, hour and day we spent our time playing football. We grew up in a war (Sewra) time and we were the first Red flowers (Keyahti Imbaba) outside of Eritrea in Germany and our focus shifted to playing music as well. We were very dedicated to music and we played every weekend in almost every city in the world for about 15 years sharing the music for Eritrea and EPLF. So football took a back seat and became even more of a hobby!!

2. How long were you a player before you got into coaching and if you could be kind enough to share what teams you have played for in the past?

I played actively for over 25 years at different levels and with teams in Germany. In addition every summer I also had the chance to play in a big Eritreans tournament like Bologna and other gatherings.

3. Living in Europe were you able to improve on your knowledge of the game at a high level and how so?

Of course, football in Europe is extremely at a higher level than most places, I saw daily that the development of the game goes fast. Technology, physiology and fitness are a part and parcel of modern football. One does not have to just be a good football player, in order to be a good coach. One has to master many aspects of the game. When I decided to work with football, I understood that the only way to be good or survive in football business was to get an education. I was obsessed to learn everything about football. I went from one course to another, reading books, analyzing football games and traveling to a lot of countries to learn from other teams.
Coaching is teaching and developing excellent athletes into good citizens. Coach Ghidey shows us.

The more I learned the more I became aware that to be a complete coach requires continuous education. Because I also have patience, I was given an opportunity by a professional team, I am grateful to AIK (my Swedish team) for helping me with all the growth process and allowing me many different opportunities to contribute to their club.

4. How did you get into coaching in general and coaching youth teams for AIK Stockholm one of the top teams in Sweden?
I continued playing music with my brothers. In the early 1990's we started a band known as Admas band and we were focused in the music business. So, after Eritrea’s independence, we decided to make our dreams true and we moved back home to Eritrea to start Admas Studios in Asmara and Khartoum Sudan. Because I was responsible for the distribution of the music we produces, I stayed in Germany to work on behalf of the Studio. One day on a vacation I met my wife who lived in Sweden, and later on we were blessed with two kids. I decided to move to Sweden. In Sweden, the youth football system is directed mostly by parents. I never thought or hoped to be a football coach. However, because I was on the sidelines of the field/pitch where I followed my own kids playing an opportunity came along. One day at an event there were too many kids and few coaches and the coaches there asked me to help, I responded by apologizing for not speaking Swedish, one of the coaches said you don't need to talk just let them play. That day was the starting point of my coaching career that has lead me to be a coach at AIK. Today it as you can see it is my profession.

5. You are one of the coaches for helping develop Eritrean-Swede teenage sensation Alexander Isak when he was in your under 9-13 age group, could you tell us what it was like to coach a great player in his younger days?

First of all I want to congratulate Alexander Isak and his family, congratulations to AIK and AIK academy. Alexander was a very talented player; his strength was to combine individual techniques with extremely good game understanding. He loved playing football. He listened very carefully and learned very quickly. He was not big in size but had a great balance and timing in his movement. He really was a good striker. I could see that he had that little extra ability but it was difficult to see how his future would be.
One of Coach Ghidey's success stories Rising star Eritrean-Swede Alexander Isak

Now we can see that he is a great player with a big future. Many of our academy coaches had the chance to work with Alexander and they all had some impact on his football. He even had a good personal coach prepared for him for a professional level when he was between the ages of 14-16. We all are very happy as a team and me personally as an AIK coach and as an Eritrean I am very proud to be a part of his life and career.

6. As an Eritrean diaspora you also helped develop many other good players some who are playing in Sweden and other places, how does it make you feel to see your former players now? 

It is a special feeling to see your own “KIDS” that you worked hard to develop making it to the top, and you become encouraged and want to see more success. Personally when such kids are also from my home country, my vision of making a great Eritrean national team becomes vivid and I believe this will become reality soon. (with a very hard work and dedication).

7. I recall meeting you in San Diego in 1999 when a very awesome Sweden team came to America to play in the Eritrean Sports Festival, as a member of that team I never got a chance to praise you but your team was incredible despite losing to Team Alexandria in the finals, what memories do you have from that time?

Ha! Ha! Of course, I remember the tournament, what a great lifetime memory. It was a fantastic tournament with so many talented players from many places. For us “Team Sweden” it was an adventure to come to the USA and play against really good teams. It was an unbelievable experience. The team we played on was also known as “Team Dahlak”. It was a great mix of everything you like to see as an Eritrean. Love for country, your people, their unity and the passion for football was an amazing experience. It was a great time and I have great memories of that time. We enjoyed the games and the way it was organized and hosted. I would like to thank you and the organizers and host city for that moment.

8. I had a chance to sit and watch the game in the booth with Eritrean, Asian and Middle East legend Ahmed Abdella of (Club El Ain) and he was impressed with your team from Sweden, where are those players now & are they still involved with the sport of soccer?

Well they played on top teams in Sweden and other places but unfortunately they did not become professionals, however their fundamental love for the game and sports helped many other young Eritreans become successful these days. Thanks to their guidance and an invested interest to see successful young Eritreans their contribution helps a lot in making sure the future for Eritrean soccer players is bright.

9. Do you have future goals to help build a strong national Eritrean team by contributing some of your knowledge, skills and ability?
Yes definitely! From day one of my coaching career I had a dream to go back home to Eritrea and build a football academy and support our national team. I will be very proud to work and contribute my knowledge to my country Eritrea. I hope that one day I can be part of our national team in a coaching capacity and to help Eritrea participate at the African Cup of nations and win. That is my dream and goal in the future.

10. I understand that you contribute some assistance to soccer teams and individual groups in the motherland of Eritrea, and you are very passionate about your birth country, can you talk a little bit about it?
Per my previous answers to your question, I have a small business with my family in Asmara (Admas Club), and I love my country and want to be part of the nation building process and development in Eritrea. I would love to contribute something to this great nation. Because of my work in Sweden and specially AIK, I am very limited with time. Also, when I'm in Eritrea I help my family. The time I have for football is very short. However, last December, I had the chance to see a Grass Roots (Eritrean academy) boys and girls age 13-17 at Asmara’s Cicero stadium. I noticed great talent and a fantastic atmosphere. It is a good way to start building a new strong national team for the future. I was very happy and made a promise to myself to take a step forward to help them in some capacity. I wish I can even help more and I will do everything to help even as I continue to become busy with AIK.

11. What will it take to create a strong Eritrean Red Sea Camels according to your thoughts?
This is a good question Mike, First of all we have to work on the following four important points.

- Vision and Philosophy,

- Infrastructure

- Technical Approach

- Education,

We have to work with long-term programs and goals and build a solid foundation. Youth Academies and youth development are the starting points. If we can develop strong football Academies with highly educated coaches, we will have well educated football players. The results will be that we can produce strong individual players and a well-organized collective result.
Coach Ghidey doing wonders for the youth and the future.

We need to change the way we think. Seeing the number of players making the transition from academy to professional players will help us get better and we can form a stronger and better Eritrean league. We must focus on the structure of our leagues and their long-term vision.
In the end we can have a stronger (Eritrea) Red Sea Camel team that can compete at different events and the coveted African Nations Cup. Right now we are aware of the many talented Eritrean footballers playing throughout in the world. Obviously, we should attempt to give them a chance on our national team. But, first we have to build a strong, stable and highly organized national team in Eritrea. If not it will be a short-term project which is not good thing. To reach our goals, we need to look at a new way of thinking. 

Red Sea boys need experts.

We must be engaged in recruiting and involving highly educated Eritrean football coaches who are able to help out. To educate better Eritrean coaches we must involve people like Eritrean national team member Henok Goitom and others with international level knowledge, experience and game understanding if we are to take Eritrean football to a higher level.

12. Eri-International sports blog would like to thank you for conducting this interview; do you have any last thoughts?

First of all I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity. And I can tell you and everyone that the unconditional love to our country will make our dreams come true.

Thank you! & Good luck in all that you do Nahom.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

College bound Eritrean-American high school football Offensive lineman Rafiti Ghirmai.


The young generation of Eritreans who are excelling in today's world is growing. Eri-International sports blog has recently been following the success stories of soccer stars in Europe as well as other sports. Let us now introduce you to another outstanding young man who seems to have a bright future as a student-athlete. Surafael Ghirmai known by his nickname "Rafiti" is a junior at Wakeland High school in Frisco, Texas just outside of Dallas.

                  College bound Surafael "Rafiti" Ghirmai Lineman at Wakeland High School in Frisco Texas.

In order to understand the magnitude of high school football in the state of Texas one just need to look at the media coverage and all the following that goes along with it. While high school football in many parts of America is a way of life in the Lone Star State the game is much more than a sport, it’s a culture.

                       High School Football is a "culture" in Texas. To shine as a player is no easy task.

The blogger has covered high school football in South Carolina where football is also king but in comparison to Texas it is a notch lower. In this competitive sport that requires so much practice and effort an Eritrean young man has been discovered as a top player. What makes Rafiti's success unique is that he is a linebacker. Rafiti Ghirmai is 6-foot-5, and weighs 290 pounds and just finished his junior season at Wakeland where he was selected to the all district team. For a big lineman his ability to move fast and allow protection for the offense is an important aspect of the game of football.

    Family is important and Rafiti pauses for a picture with mom during a recruiting trip to Texas A & M.

Rafiti Ghirmai who will be graduating with the 2018 class is very much desired by some of the biggest college football teams. He has so far been offered a scholarship by 16 schools including the University of Texas, Texas A & M, Texas Tech, TCU, the University of North Texas, SMU as well as Baylor University from the state of Texas. He has also attracted out of state power houses like Colorado, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Bowling Green, Tulsa, Iowa State, Kansas, UCF and he is only a junior. The list is very likely to grow. What makes this young man unique is also the fact that he is focused on his education.

                 Rafiti and his siblings. His support from family is a big factor in his success.

Eri-International sports blog caught up with him recently for a short interview as he recently participated in a national recruiting event that showcases high school standout football players throughout the United States. The US Army All American National Combine shows the talents of the best high school players. It is an honor to introduce you to Eritrean three-star prospect Rafiti Ghirmai who is ranked as the No. 31 offensive tackle in the country (USA) according to high school football experts.
  
1. Why football and not another sport? At what age did you decide that you were going to play football?

At first I wasn't a football kind of kid. But my brother Yafet really pushed me into playing football. He made me do drills and helped me on my footwork. I also had the body to excel in the sport so I pursued it more.

2. As an Eritrean it is not very usual to see an American football player let alone a offensive lineman, when did you decide to pursue that tough position?

I decided to be a lineman after my freshman year in high school. After gaining 70lbs and also gained 5 inches, that's when I wanted to pursue football seriously and be committed to it.

3. How was the family support from parents and siblings?

Ha! Ha! at first my mom didn't like football but over time she started to love it because I loved it. But my family’s support is amazing and I thank god everyday for them.

4. You seem to focus on academics as well as your football career and you are setting a good example for many, why is it important to focus on education as an athlete?

You can't play football forever. One day I will get older or I may get hurt playing the sport, so I'm going to have to lean back on my education, which should always be important to every athlete.

5. You are being heavily recruited by many big colleges, how does it make you feel?

Personally, I never thought or imagined that top South Eastern Conference and Big 12 schools would be recruiting me. I am blessed and that fact that they are interested in me is a huge honor.

6. Anything else you would like to add or any advice you can share to Eritrean-Americans or other immigrants on being a good student-athlete.

To my fellow Eritreans, don't stop grinding!! No matter what happens always be on your grind 110%.

Thank you for giving Eri-International Sports time to get to know you. Wishing you much success in the future.

Mike Seium for Eri-International sports blog.