FIVB Volleyball Girls' U18 World Championship

Press release

Ropponen’s message sounds in high decibels

Finland's Antti Ropponen overcame his deafness with a surgical impant and the use of an external device

Tijuana, Mexico, July 5, 2013 – Finland’s Antti Ropponen wants to send his message clear and loud so all the people with physical limitations around the world are able to get it: disability does not mean impossibility.

The deaf-born Ropponen, who is participating in the FIVB Boys’ U19 World Championship, is a perfect example of those who are able to overcome life obstacles and make an impact in the human society.

With the aid of the modern medicine and avant-garde technology, Ropponen discovered the music of the words and sounds when he was 8 years old and since then he has been able to develop his life as a regular guy.

“I like to go to the movies and parties like all young people in Finland,” says the 1.89 meters Ropponen, who turns 18 next August. “That’s why I want everyone in the world to be aware of that disability does not mean impossibility.”

An accomplished overall athlete who recently won a bronze medal as javelin thrower, Ropponen plays as opposite in the Finland team and leads his side with 61 points, including 21 in the five-set loss to Brazil.

“I love sports and outdoor life but my passion is volleyball,” says Ropponen, who also plays pesapallo, a bat-and-ball sport with similarities with baseball commonly referred as Finnish Baseball. 

When the reporter asked to mention his sport idol and suggested names like Finland’s motor sport legends like former Formula One champion Mika Hakkinen or Tommi Makinen, the four-time World Rally champion, Antti was quick to diminish the idea.

“My sport idol and source of inspiration to start playing volleyball is Andre Nascimento”, responded Ropponen pointing out the Brazilian who was part of the gold and silver medal teams at the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games in Athens and Beijing. “He impressed me as a little boy with his playing ability and style.”

His coach Pertti Honkanen appreciates the athletic skills of his pupil but above everything he admires the way he carries himself with teammates and the rest of the people.

“He manages himself as just one more guy in the group and he is familiar with most of the other boys since they have been together for a while now,” says a visible proud coach. “He is also one of the best players in our team.”

The FIVB Boys’ U19 World Championship has been a perfect scenario to appreciate the amazing ability of Antti Ropponen to play volleyball, but above all, the determination he shows to attain equality through sport.

The motto included in his message, really deserves the gold medal for commitment and social responsibility.

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