November 2019 we planned a trip to meet all the Ugandan coaches and monitor our Ugandan activities. We scheduled coach interviews and coach meetings, meetings to get acquainted with the Uganda Hockey association and meetings with Dutch alliances and a national service organisation in Kampala. With a full agenda, we set off to Kampala. Taking with us an enormous amount of air freight, amongst it 2 goalie bags comprising 60 sticks and 84 balls and almost 10 kilograms of Dutch treats serving as courtesy gifts for our coaches and everyone else we would meet during this trip.

The arrival

On November 18th, just before midnight, we landed in Entebbe, which is almost an hour drive from Kampala. As we miscommunicated our estimated time of arrival with our cabdriver, we had to organise another cab to get to our hostel. Surprised of how well organised transport at Entebbe airport is, we left half an hour later for Kampala.

The next morning we started very early, excited as we were to meet the Ugandan coaches. Our first appointment was at the home of two coaches in Bunga, a suburb of Kampala. On our way we noticed a tremendous lot of activity in open air, alongside the road. Benches stripped and refurbished, beds made and sold, boutiques, carwashes, butchers and little stalls preparing foods. Arriving at the Bunga market, our meeting point was supposed to be at the chicken seller. Oops, coming out of the cab, this part of Bunga market appeared to be the chicken market… Luckily a “mzungu” (person from Europe) is still a rare species in Africa, our coaches spotted us within seconds. 

A heartwarming welcome

Straight from the market, a heartwarming welcome awaited us at Baba and Lawrence’s place. We talked about hockey, hockey and more hockey, they showed us the trophies they won overtime, we had lunch and forgot all about time. The four of us suddenly had to rush to Lugogo stadium for the meeting with the coaches. Caught in a tropical rain shower, that caused the traffic to get even more chaotic. This is Africa, so we arrived a little late which wasn’t a problem at all. The HDF coaches were painting empty yoghurt plastics in order to have more cones at the next hockey camp. Lugogo complex has great facilities for all kind of sports: cricket, netball, tennis, basketball, martial arts, and ofcourse field hockey. Next to the pitch you find a little shelter near a storage container, this is where we had our team meeting. After a short formal introduction, we asked each other questions you had always wanted to ask, but never dared.. the atmosphere changed and got more informal. Coaches started joking amongst each other, it was very lively and fun. We got more acquainted and wrapped up with a “tie the knot” team building exercise.

Meet the Ugandan coaches

To give you an idea, these are our Ugandan coaches: 

Conssy

Conssy is our Team Coordinator. Her dreams of becoming a lawyer and is looking for ways how to transfer her dreams into plans.

Lawrence

Lawrence is a true centipede. He knows how to multitask and started his own safari company, pearl budget safaris. Currently he is in his final year at the East African Tourism Institute.  

Teddy

This is Aciro Teddy Lucy, a determined young person who loves sports. Teddy, as we call her, is captain of her team. A role she loves and she will do everything to continue to develop her skills in hockey as well in life. She studies Marketing at Makarere University Business School. 

Baba

Baba is the best friend a kid can get. Baba knows all the children and he is crazy about hockey. We can’t imagine him without sticks and balls. 

Doreen

Doreen (photo: second left) works together with her sisters in her mother’s restaurant at Nakawa market. She will start her bachelor at Makerere University in Tourism and Hospitality management, September 2020. 

William

William is Team Coordinator together with Conssy. William is known in all schools that HDF coaches are active, he is a silent force within the team. Williams passion is cooking and baking. In his spare time he makes birthday cakes. Fulfilling his dream, he is now a student in Hotel & Institutional Catering. 

Martin

Martin is our Equipment Manager. Eager to play hockey you can find him almost everyday with a stick and a ball. At the moment Martin is a skilled flip flop maker. working on his own future plans, Martin is studying to become a software engineer. In his working life he would love to have the opportunity to combine sports and technology, for instance streamlining the online activities for hockey in Uganda.

Raskara

Raskara is our Financial Manager, a position that fits him well studying accounting and finance at MUBS, Makarere University Business School. Raskara dreams of becoming a job creator instead of being a  job seeker. His goal is setting up and expanding small businesses. 

This is what HDF is about: hockey for development. We support coaches in their personal development, they perform community services through the means of coaching hockey to kids. Next to coaching, our coaches organise hockey camps. A full day of hockey drills, drinks, food and hockey games. Every camp has a theme and during the camp kids are educated on issues that relate to the theme of the camp. For instance on a girl empowerment theme, girls will be educated on subjects concerning Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights by professionals.

Dreams and future plans

Over the next days we interviewed all of the coaches and got to learn that we have a group of individuals, hockey lovers that need and want to get more involved in the Hockey Dreams Family. Most interesting to us, is that these coaches all have dreams they want to turn around into plans. Some dream fairly big, where others are modest. We were very happy to introduce the Hockey Dreams Academy in Uganda, which gives coaches the opportunity to start working on their Personal Development Plans. Let’s continue this the coming years and build a bigger and sustainable HDF team in Uganda! 

Giving back to the community – coaching at schools

Sarah and I also visited coaches while they were coaching at schools. Two schools we like to mention. One of the schools we visited was Kibuli Demonstration school. At the Kibuli Demonstration School we were greeted with great courtesy and a special welcome. Over 300 kids wanted to join the training, however only 80 could participate while there were only 20 sticks and 3 balls available. This was a mind blowing experience. Imagine this would be the situation here in the Netherlands… 

The other school is East Kololo Primary School, a public school. Hockey training starts after school and many kids stay around to be able to play hockey and have fun. Three passionate HDF coaches practice drills, play games and have fun with these schoolchildren who are all coming from the Naguru community up hill. We were struck by lightning when one of their school teachers told us that amongst these kids were several that hadn’t eaten or drunk all day. Reason for this is a lack of money. Every child will get subsidised food and water at school if they pay UGX 250 daily (€ 0,05) Unfortunately this isn’t feasible for all. Life just isn’t fair to all.

Giving back to the community – camps

End of the week, our HDF coach team planned and organised a two-day girls only camp. This was the first time that they divided tasks amongst them: Camp manager, Finance manager, Equipment manager and the Food & Beverage manager. Theme of the camp was girl empowerment with a highlight on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR),  a very relevant theme for Ugandan girls. In anticipation of the girls camp, the days before the camp coaches were exciting.

At 08.00 sharp we arrived at the hockey pitch, seeing kids being registered, coaches and kids dancing and singing, challenging each other. A camp day in start up mode, food and water arrived for the afternoon lunch. When all kids that they expected had arrived, the coaches started the warming up. On the music of “follow the leader” all kids and coaches were clapping, dancing and moving around. A perfect and joyful start of the camp. 

Meanwhile a well thought through training was given to all the girls, coaches made sure that the training was interesting, entertaining, with room enough for jokes and fun. We were impressed by the energy that HDF coaches displayed and the joy and laughter we saw on the faces of the kids. 

After a morning full of hockey, all sat down next to the pitch in the shade of some trees. Some of the coaches prepared lunch while the rest of the coaches educated  the girls on the subject of SRHR. In an Ugandan way this was serious at times but very playful in order to keep good spirits. We were so impressed by the lifeskills the HDF coaches displayed. 

Next to SRHR, another focus point of our camps is nutrition. A healthy meal is especially important to growing kids.  Our coaches made sure there was bread, bananas, watermelon, cooked eggs and more than enough water. After lunch two ladies came to highlight the subjects of SRHR: Mrs. Margaret Mukobe, Director Education Services at Aga Khan University, and Mrs. Lydia Dhamzungu, the Chairperson of the Uganda Hockey Association. All the girls loved the lively speeches from these two professionals. After a thank you speech by the girls themselves, all the girls were set to go home. Coaches wrapped up and evaluated day one, came up with things that went well and things that may be improved. How energizing this is!  

Girls Empowerment

On Saturday, the coaches organised a second camp day within the same theme girl empowerment. Different location, the grass field of East Kololo school, same coaches and again many girls. Some also were there the day before, others were new. All came in with great enthusiasm from the community Naguru. They started off, sort of the same drill, singing, dancing. When everyone was there, warming up started and training drills could be practiced. Different drills from the day before and a lot of laughter and playfulness. This is how a camp should be. Big thumbs up for the HDF coaches. 

Before lunch they planned a professional speaker in the field of girls empowerment, the Ugandan coach of the ladies soccer team. She arrived late due to traffic jams, not an uncommon issue in Kampala. Then the unexpected happened.  The camp leader went over to other coaches and discussed some alterations in the programme. Out of the blue they came up with a little tournament, to pass away time. Everything was organised very fluently. These were two of the things that came up during evaluation on Friday: time management and a little tournament. Both Sarah and I were astounded and delighted: what a learning curve! Never seen this before!

A young girl teaches the group of other kids at the hockey camp about HIV
This young girl explains her fellow camp kids about what happens if you hang around with ‘bad people’.

After another good and healthy lunch Faridah Bulega empowered all the girls present including the HDF coaches. It was amazing. The camp was wrapped up by the girls thanking Mrs. Bulega. The coaches gathered all the equipment, cleaned the place and we subsequently left for Lugogo to watch some regular games from Ugandan hockey competition. Both camp days exceeded our expectations, we are convinced that Uganda has great coaches that can take Hockey Dreams Foundation to the next level.

The Coach Academy binder

The next day we planned a team meeting and pizza party. In our team meeting we recapped our experiences, shared new ideas and came up with a formal division of tasks within the HDF coach team. And last but not least, we all handed them the HDF Academy binder, this enables the coaches to keep track of life skills, their personal development plans etc. next to their education/studies. As everything comes to an end, it was time for us to say goodbye, let’s hope we’ll meet again. 

Until we meet again

Heading for the airport it was time for us to contemplate on everything that passed by. We enjoyed the time we spent with mrs. Dhamuzungu, met sports officials and laid grounds for formal and proper introductions at the Uganda Hockey Association and the National Council of Sports. This will definitely make lives of our coaches easier. Let’s hope we may build upon a strong alliance in the years to come. 

On behalf of our coaches, it needs to be said that we are so impressed. These coaches displayed promising capabilities, solid life skills and strong learning curves: a beautiful future lies ahead of HDF in Uganda. Let’s make HDF stronger together and help more young people to fullfill their dreams. Paka lwe tu nadamu okusisinkana (until we’ll meet again).

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