I feel a bit like Captain Willard in the opening sequence of Apocalypse Now. My sprained ankle has confined me to my small, shaded hotel room, fan throbbing on the ceiling disturbing the air so that the tucked-up mosquito net sways like a parachute coming into land. The wall mirror, though, is in such an awkward place that there is not enough room to deliver a Willard-like Karate punch to smash it to smithereens.
Why might I contemplate doing that? The frustration of my team setting out without me to stage the Kamuli Junior Cricket Festival.
And what a resounding success it was! The day began with the 320 participants singing the Ugandan National Anthem together. The repertoire then moved onto School Songs, harmonious and melodious chansons reverberating over the Ugandan countryside.
Such a sumptuous serenade demanded a response from the team. On to the stage steps Team Leader Sally with a rousing rendition of “It’s a great day and the sun is shining” to a great reception and a well-deserved ovation. Sally’s effervescence, energy an determination to learn all there is to learn here is an example to us all.
In the morning session two teams represented each school with a total of twenty teams. The host school, Kamuli Township, won this first competition and the improvement of these players was very noticeable – particularly in running between the wickets which we had concentrated on the day before.
In the afternoon session Bulawali took the honours with a very impressive display of cricket skills in their white and maroon uniforms. Those not actually playing supported their teams with great enthusiasm and loud applause and cheering. It was an exciting and awe-inspiring day showing, over the four days in Kamuli, what can be achieved at grass-roots cricket in a country without the advantages that we take for granted. And, through the 35 teacher coaches now recruited, the possibility of using cricket as a tool to spread the HIV/AIDS prevention message.
Local radio turned up to capture the wonderful atmosphere and broadcast it to the wider community.
I was glad to hear that the team remained faithful to the little cafe nearby for our usual lunch of rice and beans washed down with Mountain Dew and even persuaded the manager to come an watch the cricket in the afternoon.
A great day; a great event; and as Tutor Steve commented: “cricket competitions don’t come more committed, more colourful, more pure uninhibited fun than this”.
So am I going to emulate Captain Willard and make my way all the way up river to discover its dark secret? I don’t need to: we are already at the Source of the Nile.