Pride eyes: Jinja, Uganda
Did you miss our first blog from Kenya? Read it here. And here’s our update from Uganda…
Pride eyes: Jinja, Uganda
- Words: Ski Bailey
- Images: Matea Ilieva
- Edited by: Michael Hendricks
After the exhilarating, challenging and successful culmination of the Pride’s time in Nairobi, the entire team’s excitement was building towards the schools we’d be coaching in Jinja, Uganda: the hometown of our legendary driver, Damian.
While we sadly had to say good-bye to Jo Cremin after Nairobi, the Pride had grown with the addition on Kenyan Linet Wahome from the Shamas Rugby Foundation. With everyone in place, we set out on the 600km journey in ‘Nala’, our affectionally-named BPF minibus.
Through the rolling hills of the Great Rift Valley, we traveled until we arrived at our home for the next two days: St. Andrews School, Turi. The beautiful school grounds allowed us time to bond as a team through an intense water polo match and a friendly game of touch rugby against the school’s staff.
The Pride had the honour of coaching an afternoon at a local school which operates in conjunction with St Andrews. The excitement and the smiles of the children were a welcome sight after the long bus journey.
Just before midday on Wednesday, Nala pulled onto the bustling streets of Jinja. Pride members rubbed the sleep from their eyes and were welcomed by the sunshine and all the excitement to be found in our new city. After a quick visit to the local market, we were off to our new home at Nile River Explorers: a tented campsite overlooking the Nile where we shared our camp space with a large family of vervet monkeys.
Before long, we were at the schools of Jinja to meet the children we’d work with during our time there. Five schools welcomed the Pride onto their pitches, each as special and inspiring as the next. We all relished the opportunity to apply the coaching skills we had learned in Nairobi and appreciate the talent of the children.
“Rugby? I love it because you make sure you love everybody. It builds teamwork. So it will help them to cooperate with everyone in their environment.”
Barbara Nyaku, buddy coach at Spire Road
JINJA COACHING PROGRAM IN NUMBERS
- Number of participating schools/communities: 4 (Spire Road, Namizi, Kiira, Victoria Nile, Naranbhai primary schools)
- Number of children coached: 306
- Boys / girl ratio: 54 / 46
- Percentage of children participating in 3 or more sessions: 59%
- Number of participating local coaches: 6
- Number of participating local coaches awarded a BPF coach certificate: 5
Our coaching wasn’t limited to just the children of Jinja, as the Pride were guests at a practice session for local club Walukuba.
An afternoon of tackle technique, backline plays and thoughts on creating continuity allowed players and coaches from both sides to learn from each other.
On the Friday, after we’d put the finishing touches on our teams for the following day’s tournament, the Pride was invited to tour the gardens and facilities of partner organisation, The SPEC Foundation and the school that their children attend, Namizi Progressive. We saw the breathtaking expanse of their gardens where they harvest a range of crops, many donated by our partners at G4S, including pineapples, jackfruit, tomatoes, avocados and potatoes.
After the garden walk, we had the opportunity to meet the staff of The SPEC Foundation and learn more about the amazing work they do in Jinja. The whole event culminated in the entire Pride sitting down in a classroom to create some art alongside students from the school.
During the week, Paddy and Olivia worked with G4S Uganda to deliver our BPF Leadership workshop:
Early Saturday morning, the Pride woke before sunrise to arrive at Dam Waters, alongside our partners, G4S Uganda. A beautiful day greeted us as 280 children competed across six pitches and wowed everyone in attendance with the skill, with which they played the game, as well as the Pride values they exhibited all day long.
A fun day was highlighted by a partisan crowd, waving banners and blowing horns, followed by an emotive closing ceremony, featuring speeches from G4S Uganda’s HR Manager Edith Kigonya and Managing Director Schalk Uys.
“It’s important for G4S Uganda to partner with Bhubesi Pride Foundation because we’re investing in the children and, for us, to invest in the children is investing in the future.
Children should play. This is giving them an opportunity to learn to play together, to play as a team and to learn a new sport.”
Still buzzing from the thrilling day, the Pride was able to enjoy the calm cool evening air on the Nile as we set aboard for a sunset cruise to celebrate an amazing week in Jinja.
“I showed them how an African woman can still play rugby, coach rugby, and still be a woman, and not change.”
Linet Wahome, Shamas Rugby Foundation
And… before the Pride started work in the schools, we conquered the Nile. The Class 5 rapids may have prevented some from rowing and overturned its fair share of rafts, but the Pride made it through to the other side all the stronger as a team.