Our latest blog post is written by Sarah, who volunteered in Uganda with us last summer. She shares her thoughts with us about what an impact sport can have for good in the world:
Sport isn’t particularly a great love of mine. As a child, in my family the newspaper Sport section covered the table when it was painting time, unknown to me global superstars were splattered with paint. However, in my little, and slightly embarrassing lack of sporting knowledge, I have adopted Manchester United as my team. Yet, only when I’m in Uganda, football is a language there. It is a greeting, “hello how are you, what football team do you support?” Depending on who you say you support you are either welcomed with grins and respect or a roar of laughter and questioned until you end up changing your team ( if you are like me and can’t defend your support due to a genuine lack of understanding).
Yet, I have come to learn that this ball sport means so much more. Working with Kids Club Kampala (KCK) last summer the Ugandan Director, Sam, explained to me why football really was so important for young boys, teenagers and men alike.
Its 5pm, finished for the day, we drive away from Kantaga, an informal settlement in the heart of the vibrant city of Kampala. Yet, what we walk away from is far from any textbook definition of a “slum”. Katanga is in a valley; surrounding the entire circumference of the settlement are garages. Men in oily overalls tinkering away at cars all day until 5pm. Its like a pilgrimage, every day at the same time the men from the garages assemble… to play football. Its great, real raw community. In fact, a football pitch lines the settlement and this is where KCK began. A few simple ball games to now an ever growing NGO providing basic need , love and care to the most vulnerable. I guess it’s fair to say it started with football.
Drive a little further away from Katanga, there is another football pitch. Each evening again packed, men in vibrant yellow, red and black football shirts line the field. As we drive past, I joke about how everyone really loves football here, Sam laughs, pauses and explains. Football for these young men is an escape, a dream, an ambition, an opportunity to showcase the talent of their country, to represent their nation.
Reading today an article published by Bond, an international development network, questioning whether sport really can change the world I couldn’t help but reminisce. Before I would have been sceptical, but now I would say yes.
It is the hope, the ambitious and most importantly the community spirit it fosters which is so very powerful.