Ethiopians ready to have a ball in Renton: ‘Soccer is the vehicle of bringing everybody together’

Surafel Wodajo’s most cherished memory from his childhood in Ethiopia is sitting on the cement floor in his living room watching Zinedine Zidane, a French soccer star who was in an Italian league at the time, on his family’s black-and-white TV.

Armon Tenaw, who now plays on a team with Wodajo in Seattle, can’t pinpoint when he was introduced to the sport. It’s just always been there. He remembers playing on the streets, at school, everywhere.

Because in Ethiopia, soccer isn’t just a sport, it’s the sport.

Starting Sunday, Wodajo, Tenaw and more than 30,000 Ethiopians will be in a place where soccer is king and they are surrounded by their culture. For seven days, Renton Memorial Stadium will become an Ethiopian haven of music, food and dance thanks to the Ethiopian Sports Federation in North America’s 34th annual soccer tournament.


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