MUZUNGU CLASSIC SPORTS DAY IN KAMPALA, UGANDA
After spending a majority of my time here in Uganda at the Hopeful School, I got to know the Teachers and the Principal very well, which allowed me to convince them to cancel all classes and have a sports day! The day consisted of football, or soccer as us Americans and only us Americans call it, and of course some lax. The day kicked off with a P3 (2nd graders) vs. P4 (3rd graders) football game, which all classes got canceled and the students had come ready to cheer. In the end the P4 boys pulled it out with a slim 2-1 victory. Following that the teachers played the underdog students, and the students pulled out the W! Perhaps the coolest game of the day though was the P5 vs. P6 mixed boys and girls football game.
Traditionally only the boys and men play football, so to have girls out there playing with the boys speaks miles for the empowerment of young girls that the Hopeful school helped me foster. I know this has nothing to do with lacrosse, and I’m writing on a lacrosse blog, but it shows the power of sports and how they unite, create equality, and close gaps. Those are concepts that are unanimous throughout all sports, and are things we should all strive to spread.
After break and lunchtime, we got to play our redemption lacrosse games! The girls got to play first and what a game it was. The ready team, as the girls call it, or the red team as everyone else calls it, was the team I coached who promised me they would beat the yellow team before my departure. They didn’t break that promise. The red team came up with a huge win over the yellow team 7-1, the motivation behind the win was the bet I made with the lacrosse girls who where dancers. They learned that my version of “traditional dance” is not their version of traditional dance.
My motivational speeches appeared to be infectious that day because after I pumped up the yellow team boys they defended their title, and pounded the red team boys. Although the games weren’t as exciting score wise this time around it was exhilarating to see how all these young players have grown. Seeing that made all the time I spent yelling at them to stop on the whistle, or to stop cross checking worth it. Lacrosse is a hard game to learn and it honestly isn’t very fun at first. You have to stick with the game in order to receive its reward and all 35 kids on the field that day did just that. They had learned the game, seen the reward it brings and loved every minute playing it. Many times I see this as the component youth lacrosse players in the United States lack because coaches or mentors fail to teach them that sometimes lacrosse isn’t all just fun and games, it’s bountiful amount of hard work too.
My Ugandan lacrosse players taught me a valuable lessons and I could never thank them enough for that, the passion they share for their friends, family and the game of lacrosse is incomparable.
My advice to anyone considering serving others through the game of lacrosse is to go for it. It pays off if you decide to put your heart and your passion into it. You don’t have to go overseas or across the world in order to grow the game. All it takes is a ball, stick, and an open mind to grow the game in your own community.