Meet the Matches

Committed to Bringing Sport to the Deaf Community

Eyasu applies teamwork into his everyday life as he and Alemayehu Teferi are two of Ethiopia’s chief advocates for the disability community.

Eyasu is a university professor and sign language and deaf communication expert. Eyasu has traveled throughout the world to participate in workshops and trainings on sign language deaf education and recently earned his Ph.D. in sociolinguistics of Ethiopian Sign Language from Addis Ababa University.

Eyasu collaborates frequently with Alemayehu. With Addis Ababa University and the National Association of the Deaf, they founded Ethiopia’s first B.A. in sign language and deaf culture. They also launched the Ethiopian Deaf Sport Federation through the active support of the Federal Youth and Sport Ministry of Ethiopia. In 2008, they developed the Deaf Development and Information Association (DDIA) to support deaf inclusion and improve the community’s access to vital information, training and livelihood opportunities.

Now, Eyasu and Alemayehu have turned their attention to developing sports for people with disabilities. Through their work they are increasing participation of young people in recreational sports, and trying to include more deaf Ethiopian athletes in elite international competitions like the Deaflympics. Although their primary focus is in deaf sports, Eyasu and Alemayehu also seek opportunities to support the greater Paralympic movement and work with all people from different disability backgrounds.

“Sport is important for many things, especially for social interaction of people from different backgrounds,” Eyasu stated. “The rich and the poor, the majority and minority, the educated and under-educated, men and women can all be brought together through sports.”

At the University of Texas-Arlington, Eyasu has access to one of the most successful programs in collegiate disability sport, as well as a mentor who has dedicated his life to advocating for the rights and inclusion of young athletes with disabilities. Douglas Garner, assistant director of campus recreation and head coach for the men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams was named a 2015 Champion of Change by The White House for his work as a disability advocate. With 30 years of experience as a coach and educator, Doug provides Eyasu with training resources and best practices in sports management that will be vital for developing disability sport in Ethiopia.

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