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Disc Golf Utopia...in Ethiopia?


Ethiopia is a land of plenty with a long and noble history. For starters, it is the only African country never to have been colonized. Ethiopia is also renowned for its distinctive Christian tradition and association with the Ark of the Covenant. It offers the most dramatic scenery of unsurpassed grandeur (i.e. Simien Mountains National Park), unique rock-hewn churches, the spectacular Blue Nile Falls, the Great Rift Valley, the Danakil Depression, imperial castles, and monuments of an ancient civilization linked with the legend of the Queen of Sheba. Ethiopia was recently voted one of the world’s best tourist destinations in 2015 by European Council on Tourism and Trade. It is a country which has the ability to “wow” you day after day, and now, Ethiopia can boast that it is the first African country to actively promote the sport of disc golf.

The story begins four years ago with a young man named Yohannes Desalegn #69150, who was visited in his home of Assosa, Ethiopia by a Finnish friend. His friend from the north brought some discs and a basket to introduce disc golf to Yohannes and his friends. Quickly, Yohannes became hooked and began showing his friends how to play. As Yohannes recalls, “I could not believe my eyes when we went out to play disc golf with other Ethiopians. Many people (youth, boys and girls, men and women) came to try the game even in the countryside. After that, every time we played there were four or five people when we started, but soon we were surrounded by countless people watching us, asking questions, and wanting to play. They always had such big smiles on their faces! I asked myself why are so many gathered and interested? I concluded there must be a big reason!”

His plan was to establish a new sport, nationwide. This was his calling. Yohannes took it as his mission to introduce and promote the sport to anyone who would listen. In 2014, Yohannes applied for a Marco Polo Program grant from the PDGA, with hopes of building the first course in Ethiopia and teaching the sport to literally thousands of African children. He traveled from city to village and everywhere in between, preaching the “good word” of disc golf. As his message was being heard, the new course was already underway.

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Yohannes passed along the specs of a disc golf basket to a metal-worker friend of his for welding and construction. It took only three weeks for the baskets to be completed. The next step was to receive the discs and supplies that were ordered as a result of the grant, as well as numerous contributions from people supporting the project.

And so, he traveled to the nearby Addis Abeba to collect the shipment, teaching disc golf along the way. The last piece of the puzzle was to find a plot of land that would be appropriate for the new course. The capital of Benishangul-Gumuz’s regional state is the construction site for the biggest dam in Africa, which is currently being built on the Nile River, only 210 kilometers from Assosa. Thousands of people already visit the area to view the dam construction along the same road, so Yohannes asked himself, “What could be a more secure place for a disc golf course than around a military zone?"

Following many detailed discussions, there, close to Assosa, the 44th Military Camp provided a perfect space for the new course to be built.

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Yohannes continued his mission and had already garnered enough interest to prepare an inaugural event. As the finishing touches were being put on the new course, Yohannes coordinated Ethiopia’s first disc golf tournament with the elementary school, the high school, Assosa University, and the Military Camp, inviting all to come and participate. Hundreds of people showed up for the event and watched as the Soldier Team displayed what Yohannes had taught them. They took home the very first title of “Disc Golf Champions” in Ethiopia.

The story is not over. This is a new chapter for African disc golf. Yohannes continues his efforts and continues to promote disc golf in the country of Ethiopia.

“With your support, together we can promote disc golf not only here in Ethiopia, but all over Africa.  I have already touched many people’s lives and seen their smiles. Please join me to help people in Ethiopia and all over Africa to smile in that way. I know they will because of how happy disc golf has made me and how it has changed my life.”

Talk about paying it forward. Yohannes has successfully provided a fun and safe recreation activity to nearly his entire country (and likely the continent when he’s done), and this is just the beginning. There is talk of another exciting project in Zambia in 2016. Disc golf is exploding on a global scale, folks. So, on behalf of the PDGA Staff, Board of Directors, and PDGA members, we say THANK YOU YOHANNES! This is truly another amazing Marco Polo Program success story!

For more information about disc golf in Ethiopia and Johannes, please visit ethiopiadiscgolf.com.

Yohannes Desalegn #69150 playing disc golf, and speaking about his vision of disc golf in Ethiopia.

Comments

I have been waiting this day for so long and this is what happiness means when i got the day i wish so long and i am very happy.this is just the beginning of all and there is so many coming up with disc golf in Ethiopia and Africa too!!!
Thanks PDGA.

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