|COWING EN ROUTE TO THE BALLFIELD IN UGANDA
|THEY MAY LACK SHOES AND SOCKS, BUT THESE UGANDAN BOYS SURE CAN PLAY
Baseball was introduced to Uganda in 1989
by American Tom Roy of Unlimited Potential Inc. in Warsaw, Indiana, an evangelistic Christian organization whose motto is
"Serving Christ Through Baseball." Baseball started in three Uganda primary schools. And it started with less than
a dozen balls, six bats and no gloves.
"Most of the kids were scared (to catch balls without a glove); only
the brave ones stood their ground," recalled Barnabas Mwesiga, who has headed Uganda's baseball program. "I think
our athletes here feel they are talented in an artistic way such as their natural talent and a bit of show."
|SUNSET BALL ON A CRICKET FIELD ABOVE KAMPALA
|UGANDAN BOYS HAVE EXCELLENT HAND-EYE COORDINATION DESPITE A PREDOMINANTLY SOCCER HISTORY
Today, Uganda has 215 players under the age of 12 playing baseball, and 100 ages 12-14 playing. Many were
only introduced to the game in the last five years, but the game has spread from the capitol city of Kampala to towns like
Lugazi and Jinja, and even to Arra in the North.
MLB is curious. It sent five Ugandans to its first European academy.
Only some 10 years after baseball was introduced, in 1999, Uganda qualified to play at the All-Africa Games in South Africa,
the tournament that decided who would participate in the Africa-Oceania Olympic Qualifier for a chance to go to the Olympics.
Uganda did not qualify to advance, but gained the most notice for its talented athletes.
Ugandans athletic history
is not noteworthy, mired in as much disappointment as its political history. This East African country, which became independent
of British rule in 1962, is known to most of the western world as one dangerous place, bordering other roughhouses like the
Congo and Rwanda. The reason for its bad rap is multiple: the nearly decade long regime of mass murderer Idi Amin in the 1970s
who killed some 300,000 opponents. Later, guerrilla war and human rights abuses under Milton Obote claimed at least another
Although today Uganda is one of Africa's fastest growing economies, it still has a terrible perception
in most of the world. Despite the fact most of the country is safe, Northern Uganda remains dangerous, further damaging the
country's reputation. The NBC television program, Dateline, exposed the ongoing battle between the Uganda government
and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), which occupies the north and seeks to overthrow the Ugandan government. With virtually
no popular support, the LRA abducts nearly 30,000 children to fight for their cause and forces them to kill their own family
members, or risk being killed themselves.
But despite the bad press, Uganda is on the up and up. During the 1990s,
the economy turned in a solid performance. In the last several years, 15 universities have opened as Uganda's population is
young. It's also growing. Within 10 years, the country's population is expected to hit 50 million.
a population of 27 million, only one Ugandan has ever medaled in the Olympics. Its soccer team, Africa's most popular sport,
has only advanced to the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations once. On a smaller scale, could baseball do for Uganda what it's
done in the Dominican Republic?
|JOE STRIKES A POSE WITH HIS UGANDANS FRIENDS
|THE UGANDANS BOAST THE MOST POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH ON THE AFRICAN CONTINENT