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Kampala, Uganda 2012

In September a small team from the U.K. and India visited Kampala in Uganda to work with an orphanage and a number of youth projects to develop football and basketball ministry programmes. Below is the tour blog - enjoy!

Friday, 13 July 2012
Trip preparation update
As the date of our trip draws closer it is great to see how things are falling into place.  So far we have received two very generous donations of football kits from KitAid and Kits4Causes, which we will distribute to our partner organisations in Kampala and with the Abato Foundation in northern Uganda.  We have also received a donation of tracts from RBS Ministries, which is fantastic, and sourced low cost New Testaments all of which will be handed out free of charge to anyone who wants one.  In other good news all of our visas have been approved (so far....) and we will be joined in Kampala by our Onside India Director Churchill Joseph.  Exciting times....

Monday, 17 September 2012
After a smooth overnight flight we have had a good day here in an overcast Kampala.  After a quick rest this afternoon we headed across to the Lilly school and orphanage where we were welcomed with a traditional dance (from the kids, not by us) and then got a chance to look around.  The work Lilly Uganda are doing here in Kampala is remarkable and hugely inspiring.  At the moment there are over 90 kids crammed into a few dorms but the spirit at the school is amazing and the kids are an energetic bunch to say the least!  After that we met up with Pat Ssekuuta, who has been our representative in Kampala for a number of years now, Florence from Luteete and Martin from the Gospel Tabernacle in Kazo to discuss long term strategy in Uganda.  A great meeting and praying that we can put a long  term plan in place.  Off to bed now in preparation for a manic day tomorrow with training sessions at Lilly Uganda and in Kazo most of the day.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012
Day 2 - let the games begin!!
A pretty full-on day today as we had two training sessions, one with the kids from the Lilly School and one with a group from the Gospel Tabernacle in Kazo.  Kazo is a very poor area in Kampala and the Gospel Tabernacle is very much involved in community work in the area.  The drills attracted quite a large crowd and the kids thoroughly enjoyed taking part, with some very impressive players turning out.

There has been a fair bit of amusement for everyone as the kids seem to think Paul is actually either Wayne Rooney (until he plays) or the guy from 'Transporter' and that Jamie is Harry Potter.  Dan has been classified as the good looking one.  Easy mistakes to make (particularly about Dan)...

Tomorrow we hopefully will be meeting the national team and coach at a training session which is very exciting and then we have another training session in the afternoon.


Wednesday, 19 September 2012
Meeting the Boss
Another good day in Kampala.  We started off this morning by meeting Ivan Kakembo, Director of the Uganda Youth Soccer Academy who then took us to the Nelson Mandela Stadium to watch a training session with the national team.  Really great seeing the professionals at work and we were fortunate afterwards to meet up for a chat with Uganda coach and ex-Glasgow Rangers striker Bobby Williamson.  We also met a few of the players, including Hassan Masswa.

We then had another training session with some of the kids from Lilly School, which went very well.  Some of the kids are very talented and have been very pleased to get out of school and play a bit of footie - how weird!  This afternoon some of the group then headed to Luteete School to check out the area for the location of a possible basketball court.  Today has been a bit more relaxed but very productive.  We are just relaxing this evening for a full-on day of training tomorrow.

Thursday, 20 September 2012
A Day of Excitment
Quite an exciting day in a number of ways, not all necessarily good.  We started off with the group splitting up, with Jamie and Churchill carrying on the basketball coaching with the kids from the Lilly Orphanage while Dan and Paul headed across with Patrick to Kazo for another football training session, despite Dan coming down with some nasty bug the day before and feeling pretty grim.  Both training sessions went very well with Jamie and Paul leading devotionals, which the kids really engaged with.

In the afternoon we visited the Compassion office and were shown around by Chris, the Tours and Visits Specialist.  Compassion do fantastic work in Uganda and the staff are inspirational guys.  If you would like to sponsor a child in Uganda we can highly recommend Compassion so check out their website at

On the way back to base our vehicle was involved in a collision with another car.  Quite a nasty situation but all was eventually resolved thanks to Patrick.  The collision itself wasn't that bad but a policeman arrived pretty quickly on the scene and, after being given some money by the driver of the other car, decided that everything was Patrick's fault.  He demanded that we pay for the damage to the other car, which drove into us, and threatened to take Patrick's driving permit unless more money changed hands.  Interestingly at this point Churchill thought he would jump out and chat to the policeman to help him sort the situation out but almost got himself arrested due to some kind of communication breakdown!  Oddly enough Onside hadn't prepared a contingency plan for bailing people out of jail - have to add that to the pre-trip planning from now on!  We did end up having to pay a small amount to the policeman (about £20) before he let us go but it was all pretty depressing and a small insight into the corruption that goes on here.  Life is difficult enough for people in Uganda without having to deal with this kind of thing but it just seems to be a day-to-day occurrence for the local police and a way of making a few quid on the side.

Prayer points
- That Dan and Paul will both be feeling 100% better tomorrow and able to participate fully in the planned programme.
- For a very busy training session tomorrow to go smoothly and for a trouble free day.
- That the kids hearing the talks today will respond positively and read the tracts that were given to them.

Friday, 21 September 2012
Community Coaching (the hard way)
After the drama of yesterday it was good to get back on the pitch today and get on with some coaching.  This morning we had about 60 kids from the Lilly School join us for both football and basketball training.  It is really encouraging how well the kids are responding to the devotionals we have been having and how much they are enjoying the sports.  I think one of the things that has struck all of us is how tough conditions are here for the kids and how tough it is to get out of the cycle of poverty.  We have been working in the slums throughout the tour and seeing where the kids we are working with grow up is pretty humbling.  To get the right breaks to get out of the slums is unbelievably difficult no matter how gifted you may be but to see the kids come along every day with huge smiles is inspirational.  Sport, if you are good enough, is a way out though, and even if you aren't good enough it still gives the kids hope for the future and a sense of belonging, community and pride in what they are doing.  Coaches in the community are also inspirational figures, both to the kids who view them as father figures in many ways, and also to us as we see how hard they work with so few resources.  The values they try to instil in the kids are a major part of their programmes and learning about honesty, sportsmanship and living a good life is seen as every bit as important as how to cross a ball or shoot for goal.

Tomorrow we head out to see the Uganda Youth Soccer Academy in action and then in the afternoon we have another training session.  Please pray for:

- good health for the group
- a productive training session tomorrow
- that Patrick gets a good price to get his car mended and that Ivan isn't badly inconvenienced by the theft of his phone.

Saturday, 22 September 2012
Making a difference
Another day, another football project.  This morning we visited the Uganda Youth Soccer Academy which is run by our good friend Ivan Kakembo.  The Academy is in the heart of Kampala and is open for local kids from the slum areas and runs every Saturday morning and Wednesday evening.  The Academy is a shining example of what can be achieved with limited funds.  The coaches are very professional and know exactly what they are doing, the kids are disciplined and eager to play and Ivan oversees the whole project superbly.  It is great to hear that Ivan has recently been appointed Vice-President for youth soccer for the whole of Uganda - if he does a good a job as he has done with his own project it won't be long before we are seeing Uganda in the African Cup of Nations!  While there we took part of the session and donated some kits which had been supplied by one of our UK partners, Kits4Causes.

After that we then visited another slum area where we worked with Wilbur Simpejja, a dedicated young coach who is working with very limited resources.  Highlight of the day was donating a kit to his team.  Previously they had been playing in white vests as it was the only matching shirts they had.  Seeing the pride on the kids faces as they pulled on a proper football kit for the first time was amazing.  We then held a tournament between three kids teams and saw how they could play.  The level of talent on display was pretty incredible - there were at least a couple of players on each team who could genuinely walk into any top flight youth team.  One young guy in particular called Paddy (yep, you read it correctly) is a real prospect - we will be watching his career with interest!

We are over half-way through our trip now and I think it's fair to say that tiredness is starting to set in slightly, apart from Jamie who seems to be super-charged!  Prayer for the following would be appreciated:
- a restful day tomorrow
- good health for the team

Tuesday, 25 September 2012
Competition Time....
Today, on our final coaching day of the tour, we held a football competition on one of the playing fields where we had been working this week.  Seven teams took part, competing for the prestigious Onside Trophy, and I think it would be fair to say that competition was pretty fierce with a few tasty tackles flying in and some histrionics on the sidelines from the local coaches.  The silverware was eventually lifted by the 'Manchester United' team, much to the delight of Churchill and Jamie, defeating 'Arsenal' in a penalty shoot-out.  During the tournament we shared a devotional looking at choices and the kids seemed to enjoy hearing what we had to say.  We were also able to give some equipment to Moses Kalanzi for the Abato Foundation in northern Uganda, which included football equipment from the UK and educational supplies donated from the Dr John Joseph Foundation in India.  One interesting element of the tour has been seeing how the kids respond to losing (not very well, to put it mildly) and we have been working on talking about sportsmanship and losing graciously as well as coming back stronger next time.

I think as a team we have all reached the point where tiredness is really kicking in and will be glad to see home, much as we have enjoyed our time in Uganda.  This afternoon we are packing up to come home and having a bit of a rest in preparation for our early start in the morning.  We would appreciate your prayers for:
- a restful and relaxing evening
- a safe and easy journey home

Friday, 28 September 2012
After a hectic 10 days in Uganda and a pretty exhausting journey the group all made it safely home - Dan, Jamie and Paul to London and Churchill to Chennai.  We all thoroughly enjoyed our time in Kampala and we all have had our highlights - meeting and working with the fantastic kids from the Lilly Orphanage, visiting projects in Luteete and Kazo, working with the Uganda Youth Soccer Academy, meeting national team coach Bobby Williamson....  The list goes on and on.  During our visit we held coaching sessions every day and averaged around 50 - 80 kids participating in both football and basketball training.  We gave out over 100 footballs kits to local teams, as well as supplying equipment to a number of local coaches who are making a difference in very difficult circumstances.  We handed out hundreds of Christian tracts and Bibles and were able to share the Gospel at every training session.  The kids we spoke to responded well and some of them have already been speaking to their teachers to find out more about becoming Christians.  Our presence in Kampala and our coaching in the slums also attracted the curiosity of a number of other people whom we met and we were also able to give out footballs and Bibles to them, including some of the staff from our accommodation.

Our long term plan for Uganda is to work with the coaches we have met and help them in their ministry.  For some of the kids we met the football pitch is their church and we need to help equip their coaches to be able to minister to them effectively.  We are now looking at developing training opportunities and exploring other ways to help them as much as possible.  We are also looking at taking future tours to Kampala to build on the work that we have started there.

Thank you for following us on our adventures through the blog.  We hope you enjoyed reading it and getting an insight into what we do.  If you would like to join us on one of our trips we would love to have you come along.  Please keep checking back for further updates on our work in Kampala and hopefully we will see you join us next time!

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