1999 : Joseph's court

Aug 7, 2023, 5:00:05 PM

Joseph Oyebog created a tennis campus in Cameroun

Joseph Oyebog’s dream started in a backyard he inherited from his parents in Bonabéri –an underprivileged neighbourhood in Douala. He drew a few white lines on the ground, put on a net, and players came to play. It was as simple as that. It was in 1999. The Oyebog Tennis Academy (OTA) would later open ‘the Wall’, a makeshift court where children and teenagers of all ages still play tennis today. Though Joseph keeps popping up to give tennis classes once in a while, he cannot do it every day anymore. His initiative grew so popular that his academy has opened 25 branches throughout the country, and has introduced over 20,000 kids to tennis, the most gifted of which now represent Cameroon at an international level. “Almost all the best junior players in Cameroon started at the OTA,” said Joseph in a CNN interview in 2022. A former university champion, Joseph played the Davis Cup for Cameroon when he was younger. “It was so much fun to travel the world to play tennis that I wanted to share it with the least fortunate.” In 2013, thanks to private funds, the OTA purchased a 15-acre field near Souza, 25 miles away from Douala, where high-end equipment –six clay courts, eight hard courts, dormitories for the children and staff members, and sanitary facilities– has been built. Today, 40 children live, practise, and go to school on the Souza campus. Besides the full-time residents, a hundred OTA kids play tennis on a regular basis here. Joseph is really happy about it, so much that he wants to turn Souza into an educational and tennis campus with 250 full-time residents. “Of course, there are few chances that they can become professional players, but they can become coaches, referees, or tournament directors. Obviously, they must have the opportunity to go to school here. Our  goal is to help each OTA kid have a decent life. Plus, there is  the simple pleasure of playing tennis. At the end of the day, we are just grateful that this simple yellow ball can make them so happy.”