Lacrosse in Uganda is flourishing.
By Emma Rose; a native of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
After all the action in Kampala we ventured almost 4 hours outside Kampala, about 30km from the Tanzanian boarder, to the Masaka district. We crossed over the Equator line, and I can now say I’ve been in the Northern and the Southern Hemisphere at the same time, pretty cool bragging rights! We arrived in the small village of Kamungu, off the beaten path from any major town by at least 30 minutes. Within this village is the Hopeful School, sponsored by Fields of Growth. The children gave us the most amazing welcoming ceremony; it was full of dancing, drumming and colors. They performed a song and dance from each region of Uganda. It was spectacular! Then in good fashion, we had boys and girls lacrosse games afterwards. The whole school attended to cheer on their lacrosse players. The field, donated by the Bill Belichick Foundation, was packed with kids of all ages and sizes. They lined the whole field as spectators, and they even had a teacher announce the game.
The girls had yet to receive any formal coaching and played with men’s sticks, and mostly by men’s rules however they still kicked butt. They were all much better than I expected, and it might have been the most intense game I have been apart of; every girl was so serious and determined to win! A P5 girl named Brenda single handedly took the game into her hands and tied it up. She might also be the quickest girl I’ve ever seen, with better stick stills then some of my high school travel team. (No offense to my girls, I love you all). Needless to say she’s D1 recruiting class of 2022.
The boys also had a very competitive game; it was tied or within one point the whole game! The boys demonstrated their great stick skills and you could tell they played wall ball, and put in good work. They would be a competitive middle school team in the United States. By the time we had finished our week with the school, we got the chance to see the children play big games again. They had gotten so much better in a short period of time! The lucky color must be yellow, because both yellow teams won. This little school turned out to be a breading ground for young laxers. Ironically in America lacrosse can be considered an “elitist white sport” but yet it’s flourishing in Uganda, and it’s not the white or the rich playing the game. It’s just the interest that drives people to play it and the love that keeps them playing. This has become very obvious to me during my stay in Uganda.
I now find myself the only white person in the village and the villagers love to see me go by, as the rest of my group left last week to go home. I ride my bike about 20 minutes down the straight dirt and rock road through the local trading center and to the school, everyday. I work with the children teaching P.E, which is a lot harder than it looks, and I get to work with the boys and girls lacrosse players in their down time.
This week, as it is after exams and there is lots of free time, I get to coordinate lacrosse practices and another “championship” game for the boys and girls where the red teams will get their shot at redemption! I’ll also be heading out towards a town outside of Jinja (the source of the Nile river is here), Lugazi, to help out with the girls high school lacrosse championships, a very exciting event for Uganda Lacrosse! I’m looking forward to blogging about the outcome of this exciting week of lacrosse in Uganda!