￼What a tour! More schools, a new committee set up, new local volunteers and a hugely fun tour for everyone!
We visited two districts and each town was different, so here’s a breakdown.
Week 1 – Mbale
Thanks to the NDT Mbale Committee we invited 6 new schools on to this year’s programme! This is sensational progress in just 3 years for us when we started in 2010 with 2 schools. We now have 14 schools on our programme in Mbale. We are very proud of everyone involved who has helped us reach this remarkable achievement.
The new schools enrolled this year were: Doko, Fairway, Grace, Musoto, Nabuyonga, Bujoloto, and they did extremely well. Grace Primary School, in particular, who had no netball experience and so took a little longer to grasp the rules, had a great tournament day even though they fielded the shortest team. Pupils from classes P3, P4 and P5 (aged 8-13 years) had an average height of just 140cm (4.5 feet)!
The new schools looked incredibly smart in their new kit, donated by UK schools and clubs. The existing schools also did us proud by coming back with their banners and kit, proving how much they’ve learnt in a year.
On paper we coached 390 kids (30 from each school) but it’s probably more like 450 as several extras sneaked in each day desperate to be coached!
Mid week, our UK volunteers Patricia Balcombe, Emma White and Rachel King visited Impact Orphanage run by our new friend Henry. They spent a couple of hours with the children having fun and donating much needed pencils, toys and books. The smiles were so touching and moments Patricia, Emma and Rachel will keep forever.
Friday saw the culmination of 14 schools competing on Tournament Day! We had a new venue for the tournament this year, the Mbale Municipal stadium, and we treated ourselves to a sound system with DJ. This was a fantastic decision as the music blared out, and the kadodi dancing (a local cultural traditional dance) was inspiring!!! The venue had good spectator facilities and gave a real tournament atmosphere. With MC Gathbert on the mic, the day was extremely entertaining!
After a long day, in the glorious blazing sun, the final results were:
Cup winners – Busamaga Primary School Cup runners up – Musoto Primary School Shield winners – Police Primary School Shield runners up – Wambwa Primary School
All the children were rewarded with wristbands, gifts and the winners received medals and trophies. We also recognised the schools with the best attitude, positivity, punctuality and attendance. Throughout the day umpires had selected a “best boy and girl”, who received special recognition for their outstanding quality of skill, play and teamwork.
Best Girl – Dinah Namata (GA) from Yoweri Primary School
During the presentation we were even interrupted by a HUGE cow wanting to make an appearance and do his own speech! He was politely asked to leave. Unfortunately this was not captured on camera but Monica’s stunned face when she turned around was a picture moment!!
Our Mbale experience is never complete without us working and training with the Mbale Tiger netball squad. They were back to build on the coaching skills they’d learnt last year. A big thank you to Amidah, Isma, Pullie and Sylivia, for their support. They will continue coaching and developing the children with a long term objective of setting up after school clubs.
Week 2 – Jinja
The week started with a teachers’ meeting on the Saturday morning while our UK volunteers were drowning, sorry white water rafting, in the Nile. It was fantastic to see representation from all 10 schools we would be coaching this week. It was evident they had prepared for our forthcoming coaching week and tournament, as so many things were already in place ready to start on Monday morning.
Again there were supposed to be 400 children, 50 from each of the 4 morning schools and 34 from each of the 6 afternoon schools… but we know we had 60-65 from some morning schools and 45-50 from some afternoon schools on some days! So we coached around 500ish (on and off!)
￼￼After just one year in operation in Jinja, we had 2 new schools enrolled on to the programme this year – Lake Site and Police. Lake Site made it to the Cup semi-finals so they should be incredibly proud of themselves having learnt the game in just 4 days (8 hours)!
A slight negative note in Jinja was the initial time-keeping, but by day 3, and a large emphasis on “mzungu time,” the children were beating us there!
It was wonderful for us to see the different cultures in the two Jinja areas we worked in; the rural schools compared to the town schools. The language barrier caused us initial difficulties with the rural schools as the children only really spoke the local language, Lusoga, which even our local in-country volunteers, struggled to understand at times but with the teachers’ help and an emphasis on demonstration, we made it!
In fact, the rural schools showed their worth by taking 3 of the 4 prizes up for grabs.
Cup winners – Catholic Primary School (rural) Cup runners-up – Budondo Primary School (rural) Shield winners – Main Street Primary School (town) Shield runners up – Al Swidiiq Primary School (rural)
Other exciting developments
There were three other great developments for us in Jinja this year:-
1. NDT Jinja Committee created
There were so many teachers wanting to join that nominations and elections had to take place. This is very promising for NDT and we are excited to see what they can do. Ziyadi Tamuzadde of Walakuba West P.S has been elected as the Chairperson and, with his committee members, has taken on the task of setting up more netball matches in the schools, term tournaments and ultimately we hope at least one after school club for those girls and boys who want to develop further.
2. Working with deaf children in Walakuba Primary School
Last year we tested our programme by inviting deaf children to take part. This year Julie was eager to learn and work with them and with Mpoza Denis (Uncle Denis!) worked with around 8 deaf children, integrated with the hearing children. We learnt Uganda sign language (completely different to British), were given deaf names and learnt that disability means nothing in sport. On tournament day 2 of the 10 selected to represent their school were deaf. It was a privilege to work with the children.
3. Running a HIV-netball pilot – passing on important HIV messages via netball.
A pilot HIV programme was tested during this tour in Jinja by Mpoza Denis and Monica. We wanted to develop our programme and after coming across Tackle Africa (a football charity) and other organisations it was becoming more apparent that we could use netball to teach children important life and health skills. Tackle Africa generously adapted some of their football drills to netball and we delivered these through their 5-step delivery method. It was a success as the children, after 2 drills, were already telling us what HIV is, the treatment and preventative measures available.
After the past struggles of camping and a derelict shell of a “house”, we decided to change to hostel accommodation for 2013. That certainly made a difference and was well received by the volunteers – a bed, communal lounge areas and an occasionally tepid shower – amazing! We work so hard all day, on our feet, that it’s worth the extra spend to have a comfortable “home” to go back to.
The fun stuff
Uganda is an extremely green and lush country. It has powerful rainfalls that can last for just a few minutes followed by glorious sunshine that can dry the wet within minutes. In Week 1 we took the volunteers to the beautiful Sipi Falls where we got slightly wet (soaked) standing under parts of the 3 falls. We enjoyed the trek with the local tour guides – boys from the villages who know the hills, plant-life and routes like the back of their hands.
The second weekend in Jinja the volunteers got the opportunity to go white water rafting down the Nile, which for some was an experience of a lifetime.
The last weekend was spent in Kampala, the capital city. We visited Treasure Life Youth Centre (TLC) a project run voluntarily by our local coach Mpoza Denis and his team. They give orphans and children with HIV aged between 12-25 years the chance to play, learn, get treatment and have fun. The centre has a music studio, internet café, boda boda shed, canteen and sports equipment for football, netball, roll ball, volleyball and basketball. Sadly TLC’s medical centre is currently closed due to the lack of funding. However we are keen to assist in the development of the centre in the years to come!
For the remainder of the last weekend we visited the craft market, the old downtown part of Kampala and spent time visiting a special needs home (Kiroka Disabled Home) with Tag Rugby Trust employee Stesh. We also got the opportunity to see a national league match for whom three of our local volunteers Flavia, Cissy, Ashia are regular players! It was interesting to say the least to watch the game being played on a marked out court on a car park in the Nelson Mandela Stadium! This perhaps shows the importance of netball in the country, yet it doesn’t stop the girls from playing out of their skins.
Local support – We could not run our tours without some wonderful locals who keep us going and do a lot of hidden work behind the scenes. We mentioned above the teachers and the local netball coaches, who we certainly couldn’t cope without, and who continue our work when we leave, but there are others. Freddie in Mbale and Trishila in Jinja who are our lifeblood. If we need advice, or contacts we know we can count on these guys. “Thank you” isn’t enough, and we just hope they know how grateful we are to them.
We must also thank Mpoza Denis for his support and promises to advise and help the two committees in their future development. He sits on the Ugandan Netball Federation national committee and has experience and wisdom to share. He is now our NDT Rep in Uganda and we will be regularly talking to him and receiving updates from each town. He now has a camera on a new phone so we will be waiting with excitement for photographic evidence of the committees in action, and for more children to be introduced to our fabulous sport.
And finally a huge thank you – to our UK, Kenyan and Ugandan volunteers. Without you none of the 800+ children would have learnt netball in a week, and NDT would not have progressed as much as it has in just one year. You were all so keen to help, do your bit and offer your support, and it made this tour so enjoyable for everyone. Thank you. You’re amazing. You made a difference through netball.
The 2013 Uganda tour party
Monica, Julie and the 2013 Ugandan Tour Team.