Wow, well that was Uganda – the first time in the country for myself and the rest of the team. And having been back home in the UK, I can now take a moment to reflect on what an amazing trip we all experienced. I guess you may have heard of the expression “African Time” well it really is the case, our trip started off having to wait a couple of hours for our pick up in Entebbe, before spending our first week in Kampala the capital, trying our best to push on through rush hour in the morning. We had no chance of getting round the endless buses, bikes and noisy car horns of an early morning in the capital, only the Marabou Stalks seem to be able to beat the rush.

It started off with a visit to the Lugogo stadium on the Sunday evening of our arrival, we were greeted by the ever so friendly team from Cricket Uganda, lead by the charming John Trust, who gave all us a chance to start some coaching before the sun had set, this along with a TV interview to be shown on the local news. All conducted around our first barbecue, as from a personal invite by some of the junior Ugandan players, coaches, and the cricket board. An amazing start to such an unforgettable experience.

From our first day coaching in Ndejje we were constantly taken aback by how much these young kids wanted to play ball! Their eyes lit up with the chance of a catch from a hit, even if there were another 40 children with their eyes on the small round object flying back to earth; it was an endless game of smiles, joy and happiness.  Having the chance to visit the Reachout orphanage on our way up to the relaxed and chilled atmosphere of Jinja was humbling; 25 children beavering away with their studies in a room no bigger than my bedroom.

Jinja. The source of the Worlds longest river; the Nile.  This was our time to unwind a little after each day’s coaching. It had all started with a raging bull delaying the first coaching session, but after that we had another 500 children attend across the three days. Even the smaller boys and girls can hit a ball a mile, and their throwing arms could send a ball into orbit. This was also where media-man Dave pulled out all the stops, setting up no less than four radio interviews across our visit, as well as a meeting with one of the local MPs in the district. It was also the town were the young and old of our team partied separately for a night; several of us ended up dancing Ugandan style, bopping away to cheesy dance tunes till the early hours.

We worked our way down to our final stop Masaka, via a trip to see a disastrous batting collapse from Uganda in the Pepsi ICC event in Kampala (although they did win the game). We settled into our Hotel Brovad, where we would finish our trip, having another 800 or so excitable, hungry and keen-as-mustard school children, pulling balls into gardens and cracking shots over the sharp drop that contained mud huts, waiting to gobble up another ball or two. It was here we met our sports coordinator Hakeem and his trusty assistant Albert, who had been working tirelessly to bring us another batch of schools for the week. They have plans to set up a cricket club soon, but require the assistance of local coaches and funding to make this happen; this is where we hope the cricketing legacy will begin to show. The last morning of our trip was to bring home the reality of what we were all here for, a trip to the main hospital, with it’s own HIV/AIDS clinic. We were given a guided tour of where the patients are tested and where they come for treatment, and ended with a chance to visit around 25 young children, all with HIV, who come every Friday in the hope to be able to manage their condition. After a few funny glances, they warmed to who we were and started to smile, play catch and accept the Muzungus who had popped in that day.

And so we left and after saying our goodbyes in Entebbe to our driver Ken, and our truly amazing and generous young coaches, Juma and Ephraim, who had been with us throughout the trip, we left for home. I can only hope that the children continue to take on board the HIV/Aids messages, that the coaches we trained can drive on and press home the skills they have learned, and that Uganda becomes a force within a sport we all love dearly, and that we can all look back and say we contributed in a small way to try and bowl Aids out of Uganda.


Finally, a massive thanks you to my team who worked their socks off throughout; Graham (Silver Fox) Dave, Grant, Nick, Paul, Sam and young gun Freddie – the next Sunday Times journalist. I look forward to sharing a beer again sometime this summer, more than likely whilst watching a game of cricket. Thanks for making this trip so enjoyable and eye opening.


Until the next time, au revoir!!