By Rien Zabor
At the end of 2013, it’s hard to believe that it’s been over a year since I documented my experience traveling to Uganda with the non-profit organization Fields of Growth. I spent two and a half weeks in Kampala coaching and training with the Uganda National Lacrosse team while also visiting various orphanages, schools and juvenile centers. The objective of my trip was two-fold in that we were all there to teach the budding National team about the game of lacrosse while also volunteering our time and effort towards the building of the HOPEFUL School in Masaka, Uganda. Every day since I have been back in the United States, I carry the experiences and lessons I learned in those two and a half weeks with me.
There has been a great amount of progress in terms of the growth of Uganda National lacrosse team as well as at the HOPEFUL School. When the founder of Fields of Growth, Kevin Dugan, first started his work in Africa, one of his goals was to build up the Uganda lacrosse organization into anFIL-qualifying team with the dream to compete in the 2014 World Cup. Through the partnership of Fields of Growth and the Uganda Lacrosse Union (ULU), a campaign titled Dream 2014 is working towards that very goal.
Because the lacrosse team has not yet been recognized as a national sport, their ability to travel and compete in the World Cup is dependent on generous donations from around the world. Thesedonations not only help fund travel, training and lodging for the first-ever team from the continent of Africa, but a quarter of the donations will go back to the HOPEFUL School in Masaka to help complete the permanent structures for classrooms, offices and dorms for the students and teachers.
Even in the national team’s campaign to compete, the Fields of Growth concept of 360 degrees of positive social impact is still very much alive, as it’s not just about playing the game of lacrosse but improving the lives of those in need. Maurice Sserunkuma, the Secretary General of the Uganda Lacrosse Union, commented on this very ideal: “The youth of our country have a lot of needs, but no need is greater than the freedom to dream, and to act upon your dreams through conscious endeavor and hard work. I am excited to see Team Uganda’s dreams realized through this campaign” (Fields of Growth International).
In recent events, the coaching staff for the 2014 Uganda team has been announced and includes some big names in the lacrosse community! The team will be led by Andrew Boston, a former player at the University of Delaware and currently a member of the Peace Corps. Andrew has worked in northeastern Uganda for the past two years, so his knowledge of the game plus undying passion to serve makes him the perfect fit. He will be accompanied by Tom Schreiber (Princeton, Tewaaraton Trophy Finalist), Tanner Scales (UVA), and Casey Lavallee. Tanner Scales, the latest coach to become acclimated with the country and program, will be heading up the training this winter while also venturing out on a 100-mile walk through rural Uganda to the Kkindu village in Masaka where the HOPEFUL School is located. All of these gentlemen have spent time in Uganda in an array of different capacities but they have all made a very strong connection and impact with the team.
The Uganda National Lacrosse team has come a long way since I first stepped on the field with them in the summer of 2012, never once forgetting about their end goal and a trip to Denver, Colorado. Numerous organizations including the US National Lacrosse team have so far put together events, games and clinics all in order to help make Dream 2014 a reality. Please take a second to watch the video below to really understand the impact that the sport of lacrosse has made on the country of Uganda and how you can help continue the movement and make their dream come true!