Founders & history

The Founders

The TDKET project was founded by Tariku and Desta Tesfaye. The brothers, who came from a poor background, managed to become part of the Ethiopian national tennis team. 


As small children, they wanted to earn a little money and started working as ball boys in a tennis club in Addis Ababa. After some time, the two of them were allowed to "swing the racket" against members of the tennis club, which they managed surprisingly well. 


Later, as a successful player, Tariku decided to also become a tennis coach at the "Greek Club" in Addis Ababa. With his income he could live a simple but, by Ethiopian standards, good life. 


But being a tennis coach was not enough, he wanted more: he wanted to give something back to his country and to tennis. As a result, in 2001, he and his brother made the amazing and commendable decision to create a special project. It all began with Tariku inviting particulary talented children from the slums of Addis Ababa to a talent scout tournament.


The brothers have always attached particular importance to the educational aspect of this project, which Tariku and Desta pursue with wisdom, unbridled diligence and self-discipline. Strict rules are a prerequisite for achieving this goal. 


Today Tariku is the "head coach" on site. Together with his team, some of which are "first generation children" they now supervise 66 children. 


Tariku himself is the best example of outstanding educational and personal development. Despite difficult circumstances, he built up a great network and did an excellent job renovating the tennis courts and giving the children a home. His achievements in sport with the children are amazing and go far beyond educational and physical expectations! In the 15 years of his dedicated work, 12 out of 20 first generation children have either graduated or are on their way to graduation.


Desta is in Saudi Arabia where he works as a tennis coach. He still donates part of his income to the TDKET project.  



The brothers Tariku and Desta Tesfaye, members of the Ethiopian national tennis team from the poorest of backgrounds, have a dream. They want to help children out of the slums by teaching them tennis and founding a tennis school for them. 


The programme starts. 20 children are selected from a talent-scout tournament to join the programme. 


The conditions to stay in the programme are hard and the daily routine is very strict. Before and after school they train! The school has to be completed successfully. 


Only 12 children are still in the project. Due to lack of discipline (e.g. absence from school) and financial difficulties the project was facing, some children had to leave the programme. 


Some children are appointed to join the national selection team due to several won tournaments.


The students from the "Friedrich-Ebert-Gymnasium" in Germany raise funds to support the project financially. Due to this, one meal per day can be provided for the children.


Bruno Böhler (former principal of the German Embassy School in Addis Ababa) organises a visit to the Racket Center Nußloch including training, teaching and participation in tournaments.


The Dennis van der Meer Tennis University in the USA offered Tariku to take part in a coach training programme. 


The two best children (Meron and Yonas) are allowed to participate in the Junior Orange Bowl Championship in Florida. 


Wilfried Lemke, UN Ambassador for Sport, declares his support for the project.


The project becomes a registered non-governmental organisation (NGO) and is permitted to receive donations. 


The official name of the project is now: Tariku and Desta Kid´s Education through Tennis Development Ethiopia (TDKET).  


The possibility to train their children at the Greek Club ends. 


The Kindernothilfe and the Manfred Lautenschläger Foundation both support the project financially and it becomes possible to provide 66 children with a daily warm meal. 


Due to an unannounced road expansion next to the courts, the study rooms as well as the showers were completely destroyed. 

Haile Gebreselassie becomes a supporter of the project.


The "Circle of Friends" is founded around the project.



Yonas is the first child from the project to be given the opportunity to go to the USA to study. He gratuated from high school as the best in his year and received a scholarship. 


To support the project, the NGO Advantage Ethiopia was founded in America.


Yonas Gebre, a child from the first generation, successfully completed his Bachelor´s degree in May. He was also awarded the ITA Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award. This award honours students with outstanding achievements in the areas of sportsmanship, leadership, tennis as well as in school and extracurricular activities.