The African Student Union welcomed a group of hearing African soccer players for a friendly match on Saturday, May 6. Gallaudet was represented by a mix of students, faculty, and alumni, who saw the event as more than just a chance to play a game. It was an opportunity to boost visibility of Gallaudet’s Deaf African community, and build connections with hearing Africans in the area.

“It’s important to have people from off campus join us. We want them to learn about Deaf culture,” said Chris “Teddy” Jappah, ’18 & G-’21, former ASU president.

Donald Igwebuike, who played on Nigeria’s national team before moving to the United States and playing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Minnesota Vikings in the National Football League, led the team of hearing players. “Thank you for the opportunity to play with students here,” Igwebuike said as the teams warmed up before the match. “Sometimes you don’t know where the African community is. We’re looking forward to a good game.”

The final score was 6-4, with the Gallaudet team coming up just a little short against their more seasoned competitors. But it was a win for everyone involved, said outgoing ASU president David Malle, ’23. “Playing with us creates more of a bond. It’s kind of like a family,” said Malle, who noted that African students at Gallaudet frequently crave more connections. Getting to know a larger number of people in the area helps them feel more comfortable so far away from home.

Umar Tukur, G-’15, ASU faculty co-advisor and lecturer in the School of Language, Education, and Culture, said that being plugged into the wider African network could help students find out about opportunities for internships and jobs.

Soccer is an ideal way of bringing everyone together, added Jappah, who is assistant coach of the Gallaudet men’s soccer team. “We call it football and it’s the most popular sport in Africa,” he said. With the event, he hoped to demonstrate Deaf abilities. “I want to show equality,” he said.

They continued to connect after the match over a shared meal of African dishes, prepared by undergraduate student Afan Nyam and graduate student Bernice Adekeye. It was a chance to interact and make memories for student and alumni spectators as well, said incoming ASU president Michaela Okosi, who took many photos commemorating the occasion.

The ASU plans to host more events bringing Deaf students together with the local hearing African community

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