History

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

UGANDA LITTLE LEAGUE BASEBALL HISTORY

The story of Uganda Little League Baseball starts in August of 2002 and is a story of overcoming obstacles and doing things that people said could not be done. 

Beginning

Richard Stanley was a volunteer sent to Uganda by ACDI/VOCA to assist the Uganda Vegetable Oil Development Project in late July 2002.  While there, Mr. Christopher Gashirabake asked him if he would help start baseball in Uganda.  He agreed if the government would help in building fields and not hold up the delivery of baseball equipment with taxes and duties.  On his return to the U.S., he found that Little League International was willing to donate a starter kit, as was Major League Baseball, but he had to pay for the shipping from the U.S. to Uganda.  With the help of the Transform Foundation, this was arranged, with the equipment leaving the U.S. in early January 2003.

Ms. Priscilla Sarah Nakibuuka, had expressed an interest in baseball to Mr. Stanley in July 2002, and now volunteered to assist in working to get Uganda Little League Baseball started.  Little League International appointed her as the Country Director in the fall of 2002, and she then proceeded to convince 4 international schools in Kampala and the Sir Apollo Kaggwa school to agree to become leagues and play when the equipment arrived. 

With the help of the ACDI/VOCA office in Kampala, the container with the two kits arrived in Kampala late in March 2003.  The government valued the equipment at $40,000 and wanted to collect $16,000 in taxes and duties.  With the help of many government officials, especially Mr. Francis Wafula at the Ugandan Mission to the UN in New York and the people he introduced us to and who we met in Kampala, Dr. Jotham Musinguzi, Mr. Moses Kaggwa, Peter Malenga, and many others, the equipment was finally freed of customs in late June 2003 and distributed to the schools.  It was too late to start the schools playing for the tournaments of 2003, but they promised to start play when the schools returned later in the year. 

Little League International agreed to supply two more starter kits in the fall of 2003, and Major league baseball agreed to match what they had given us in the prior year after some discussion.  This time, with the help of U.S. Ambassador James Kolker and his assistant, Jack Lopinski, the container of equipment was shipped to the U.S. Embassy and arrived without trouble.  Future shipments of donated baseball equipment from Little League International and Major League Baseball also were shipped through the U.S. Embassy until Ambassador Kolker and Mr. Lopinski were rotated out of Uganda in the late summer of 2005 to other posts as their normal three year assignments were finished.

Tournaments

The schools began to play baseball for children 12 and under in the latter part of 2003.  At the International School of Uganda, which has a full size, all grass soccer field, Mr. Evan Bringham, the games master and an American, built the first backstop in Uganda at one corner of the soccer field.  The two people who are most responsible for Little League Baseball succeeding in Uganda are Ms. Nakibuuka and Mr. Bringham.  Ms. Nakibuuka for convincing the International School of Uganda to start baseball and Mr. Bringham for building the backstop and giving the Uganda Little League a place to hold its National tournaments which for the first time was held in June 2004.

Four leagues participated in the semifinals held at 9:30AM on opposite corners of the soccer field.  The championship game followed, and the Heritage School defeated the International School of Uganda for the title.  The Kabila School defeated the Sir Apollo Kaggwa School in the consolation game.  The Heritage School now had the right to play for the European/Middle East/Africa Little League Regional title which is held in Kutno, Poland each July.  The problem was that they had to pay their way there and for $30,000 in travel cost, that did not happen.

The success of the Little League program in 2004, and the arrival of new equipment in 2004, allowed the program to expand to 11 leagues for the 2005 tournament.  More equipment arriving in 2005, allowed us to expand to 15 leagues for the 2006 season, and for the first time, we held a tournament for 13-14 year olds, in addition to the third 12 and under tournament.  The lack of money to pay for the travel to play in the European/Middle East/Africa tournaments continues to keep the championship teams at home.  The schedule for the 2007 season has eight tournaments scheduled for June 2007.  We will hold tournaments for 12 and under, 13-14, 15-16 and 17-18 in baseball and also in softball.  The first half will be played at the International School of Uganda during June 16 and June 17.  The latter four tournaments for the older children will be played in Jinja during June 23 and 24th

Elimination tournaments will be played during the early weeks of June to get each tournament to the 4 semifinalists that will be playing on the above dates.  Uganda Little League Baseball has now expanded to 25 leagues covering baseball and softball from ages 6 to 18.  While our goal is to expand to 100 leagues over the next several years, the major thing holding us back is the lack of equipment and money to obtain it, ship it and to distribute it.  While the equipment is meant to start leagues, almost all of our leagues need funds to obtain new equipment to maintain their programs. Baseball equipment is difficult to find and very expensive to buy in Uganda. 

Recent Developments

With the departure of our helpful contacts in the U.S. Embassy, Uganda Little League Baseball has been very fortunate to be getting great assistance from several people in the Ugandan Ministry of Sports, the National Council of Sports, and other Ministries.  We first met Mr. Apitta Omara in 2005.  Mr. Okello Oryem and Mr. Jasper Aligawesa about the same time.  It is a result of their efforts and encouragement that we were able to receive the latest and largest shipment of donated equipment to ever be shipped to Uganda Little League without encountering problems with duties and taxes.  They have also been most helpful in allowing Little League Baseball to expand to large schools in Lira, Luwero and Mbarara this past spring.


2006 - 2007

In August 2006, Major League Baseball gave Uganda Little League Baseball $15,000 to help level fields and install backstops.  With that money, we have leveled five fields and will be installing several backstops.  We hope Major League Baseball will grant additional funds to continue to make playing fields available. 

In October 2006, due to a generous donor, Uganda Little League Baseball purchased 40 acres of land near Kampala to build a central complex of at least 6 fields to host National and International Tournaments.  We are now in the process of seeking additional funding to actually build the fields, and then eventually dormitories to house the visiting teams so that week long tournaments can be held with as many as 12 to 16 teams playing everyday.  We expect to finish the fields by the end of 2007.  The cost for building the fields is approximately $350,000.  The dormitories needed will cost an additional $300,000.

At the Little League International Congress held in Houston, Texas in mid April 2007, Uganda Little League Baseball, joining with South Africa, Ghana and Burkina Faso, formed a committee to coordinate the development of Little League Baseball in Africa.  Some of the five year goals are to expand into 30 countries and to host All African Tournaments at all age levels in baseball and softball with the winners coming to the U.S. every August to play for the World Championships.  We will need large quantities of equipment, corporate sponsorships, many trained coaches and umpires and many volunteers to make this happen.  Uganda Little League Baseball has over come many obstacles in its short 5 year history, this is just a few more. 


2008

For the first time in the more than 75 year history of Little League Baseball, an African team will travel to Europe to play in a Little League Regional Tournament.  The winners of these regional tournaments travel to the U.S. to play for the World Championships every August.  That will be the dream of the 12 players, age 12 and under, and the 5 adults making up the traveling squad that will step off the plane in Warsaw, Poland on July 21.  They will then travel by bus to the Europe/Middle East/Africa Regional Headquarters in Kutno, Poland where the tournament will be held.

 

For the Uganda team, there will be a lot of firsts.  They are scheduled to land at Brussels at 6 AM after their almost 9 hour overnight flight from Entebbe Airport. There they will step on European soil for the first time prior to boarding their plane for Warsaw a little after 9AM.  For all but the country director, this will conclude their first flights in a jet plane.  When they get to Kutno, they will see a real baseball field with grass for the first time, and be able to practice on it before the actual tournament games commence on July 24th

 

Ms. Priscilla Sarah Nakibuuka, the Uganda Country Director will be leading the adult contingent of Washington Mugzrawa, the Head Master and President of the Reverend John Foundation Primary School Little League,  Owarra Deusdedit and George Mukhobe, coaches of the team, and Paul Kataregga, Uganda Little League Vice President.  Aside from getting the players to Poland, they are also seeing for the first time a real baseball field in person, and this is very important for them as they are all involved with building a complex in Uganda similar to the one in Kutno with the hope that Uganda will be able to host this tournament next July.

 

Getting to Poland for an African team involves overcoming many obstacles.  In Uganda’s case, the airfare of $25,000US, plus the need for a visa for each traveler of $100US which had to be obtained in Kenya, since Poland does not have an embassy in Uganda, prevents all African Little League programs from traveling to Europe.  Little League hosts regional tournaments for boys and girls from age 12 and under thru age 18, or eight tournaments every July, with the winners going to the U.S.  The U.S. trips are paid for by Little League International, but the local leagues must pay their way to the regional tournaments.  If Uganda would send eight teams to Europe, the cost would be well over $200,000 per year just in travel expenses.  Where the average family monthly income for a school teacher is less than $200 per month, it is obvious why no African team has traveled to Europe in past years. 

 

It is the hope of Uganda Little League Baseball to build its complex in time to host all the eight regional tournaments starting in 2009 so that more African Countries can play in them without having the expense of having to travel to Europe.  Kutno was built for a little less than $2 million and Uganda Little League Baseball is trying to raise that money now so that many African teams of boys and girls, from all over the continent, can have the chance to make their dream a reality of playing for the World Championships in the U.S. every August.

 


March 2009

We have been notified by Little League International that our proposal to host the Middle East/Africa Regional Tournament was not successful.  Our proposal can be viewed at www.baseballforgood.org  This year, as in last year, the Middle East/Africa Regional Tournament will be held in Kutno, Poland, the last week in July.  As this is written, the tournament will have only the three Middle East teams it had last year.  Uganda will not go this year, and instead will put the $35,000 travel costs into building the dorms at the Uganda Little League Baseball complex.  At this moment, no African teams will be participating in Kutno because of cost and visa problems, instead, Little League International has suggested that Uganda host an All African Tournament.  We have agreed to host it the first week in August. 

The only problem at this moment is that the winner of the All African Tournament will have to return home, instead of going to Williamsport for the Little League World Series.  Without the World Series Trip as the reward for winning, I am not sure how many, if any African teams will participate in the All Africa Tournament.  Little League International assures us that they will send out the invitation, and hopefully, we do get participation of African Countries.  We will be able host up to 16 teams in our newly built dorms.  The Ugandan Government has indicated that they would make this into a National Event if it is held the first week in August.  What we proposed in our bid to host the Middle East/Africa Tournament will be what we will do in hosting the All Africa Tournament.

As a result of the annual meeting of Uganda Little League Baseball that took place in January in Kampala, the schedule for the National Tournaments in baseball and softball has been set.  Each tournament will take place at the new Little League Complex in Mipigi District during the weeks indicated on the home page.  The length of each tournament will depend upon how many teams come to the complex.  By early May, two dormitories will be finished.  Each dorm will have 8 team rooms for 14 participants and also adjoining rooms to house 3 coaches.  Up to 14 players and 3 coaches for each team will be housed and fed during the tournaments.  Bunk beds with mattresses will be supplied.  Each team member and coach will be expected to bring their own sheets and pillow cases and blankets.  The tournaments length will depend upon how many teams will come for each tournament.  We expect that each team will play at least one game every day of the tournament.  The tournaments are expected to all end on the Sunday.  Each tournament will be at least 4 days long, or could run as long as 7 days.  We expect each league to let us know no later than April 15, 2009 of their intention to come to the complex to participate.  Each team will then be issued a formal invitation to attend the tournaments they are qualified to attend and the date each tournament will start.  All the teams are expected to arrive before 5PM on the day before their first scheduled game.

This year, for the first time, we are asking that each league supply us with the names of all players playing baseball or softball at each age.  These rosters can always be added to as the year progresses, but we want to make sure that every player who comes to the tournament is on the league's roster of possible players and has played for that league.  Any player not on the roster submitted during the playing season by April 30, will not be allowed to play in the tournaments.  Remember, it is the responsibility of each team that if they win and go on to Regional Tournament play, each player of that team must have proof of their age before they will be allowed to play in the Regional Tournament.   For boys, it is the age they are on April 30, 2009.  For girls it is the age they are on December 31, 2008.

May 2009

This month marks several significant events. We will be hosting 8 tournaments starting in May and ending mid June. For the very first time, we will have teams of boys and girls in the 17-18 age group playing in tournaments, along with the 15-16s, the 13-14s and the 12 and under group. They will be playing on the fields that we have been working on for the past several months. Field one and two are the ones with grass. We brought over and planted Blue Grass seed on both infields to see how it makes out in Uganda in January. The outfields of these two fields have grass plugs planted, which is the normal way of planting grass in Uganda. Both fields are for Little League 12 and under baseball and girls softball. Both these fields are 250 feet down the lines, and currently, since we have no fencing around them, about 330 feet to centerfield. We had applied for money to fence our fields from the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, but were informed, as of the first week in May, that we were not approved to receive a grant. For the time being, we will play without fencing.

Fields 3, 4, and 5 will be used to host the older boys baseball tournaments. Field 3 and 4 have dimensions of 330 feet down the lines and 400 feet to centerfield, but with no grass and no fences. Any ball that rolls past the outfielders will drop off the playing surface and be declared a ground rule double, until we can get fences up. If the umpires see the ball disappear without a bounce, it will be a home run. We will have some fun. Field five, has foul lines of 300 feet and centerfield about 400 feet, but also has no fences at the moment, or grass. We still have lots of work to do.

At this time, we expect 5 teams of boys and 4 teams of girls playing in the 17-18 tournaments. We expect 8 boys and 4 girl teams playing in the 15-16 age group, but 6 boys and only 2 girl teams in the 13-14 age group. We expect 8 boys and 5 girl teams playing in the 12 and under tournaments.

It appears we will be hosting an All African Tournament for boys 12 and under during the first week in August. We have been told that teams will be coming to Uganda from Ghana, Sudan, Tanzania, and Kenya, and possibly from Cameroon. Others may also come.

Arriving in Uganda on May 26 and staying for 4 weeks will be two gentlemen who will be doing some filming to be used in making a 5 or 10 minute short that might be used to get funding for a full length documentary film that will cover what we are doing in Uganda regarding baseball. If they get the funding, they will cover our January clinic with the MLB Envoy program. the every three year International Little League world meeting in Lexington, Ky. next March, our National Tournaments next May and June, hopefully the Middle East/Africa Tournament, if it is played in Uganda next year, and the Little League World Series that we hope a Uganda team might be able to play in.

July 2009

Uganda Little League held the annual National Little League Championship Tournaments from May 28 thru June 14, 2009.  We started with the 13-14 year olds, went to the 17-18 year olds, then the 15-16 year olds and finally the 11-12 year olds.  Each tournament was four days of playing games, and required the teams to play 4 games in the first three days and then the consolation games and championship games were played on the fourth day.  We had teams come from the west, Mbarara, the north, Lira and Luwero, and the east, Jinja, besides Kampala.  The games were being filmed by a team from New York looking to produce a 5 or 10 minute video that will be used to raise money for a full length documentary film which will be shot over the next 14 months.  The expectation is that they will follow a player through the coaches training program that Major League Baseball will conduct at the complex in January 2010, the National Tournament to be held next June, the Middle East/Africa Little League Regional Tournament next July, and hopefully on to the Little League World Series next August.  We will let you know when it is done and when it might be appearing in a theater near you. 

For the first time, we held a tournament for 17 and 18 year olds this year.  Our biggest disappointment during our tournaments was the lack of girl softball teams that came.  While a team of 17-18 year olds wanted to come, we could not get a team for them to play against.  Therefore, we asked them not to come this year.  The same thing was true for the 11-12 year olds and the 13-14 year old girls.  The only girl tournament held this year was for the 15-16 year olds.  The girl tournaments were to be held at the same time as the boys tournaments of the same age group.  We will now work on getting more girl teams playing in time for next year and the future.

During the first week of August, we will be hosting an All Africa Tournament for 11 and 12 year old boys.  We will be hosting teams from Tanzania, South Sudan, and Kenya.  Teams from Cameroon and Ghana have indicated their desire to participate, but were uncertain about their funding.  Hopefully they will come.  The championship game for this tournament will be held on August 8, 2010.

Now that the complex has several fields to play on, local children have come to the fields and have asked if they could learn to play.  We are now working with the local population to form the Mpigi Little League, which will be open to girls and boys of all ages.  We will keep you informed about our progress with this league.

August 2009

During the first week of August, Uganda hosted the first All Africa Little League Tournament for boys ages 11-12.  South Sudan, Kenya and Tanzania sent teams.  All three of the visiting squads were fairly new to Little League Baseball, but all came to play and learn.  They arrived at the complex during the morning of August 1, 2009.  After a coaches meeting on the afternoon of the first day, the coaches all agreed that the first games would be played on Sunday August 2, and everyone would play each other twice during the week.  Games were thus scheduled for everyday at 10AM and 2PM.  At 4PM on Friday, the best team would play a team composed of the best three players from each of the other three teams.  The Championship game would be played on Saturday at 10AM, August 8th.

After suitable opening ceremonies, the games began.  After the 2PM game on Friday, Uganda was 6 and 0, South Sudan was 4 and 2, Kenya was 2 and 4 and Tanzania was 0 and 6.  Uganda then went on to defeat the All Stars on Friday afternoon and also defeated South Sudan in Saturdays Championship game.  Uganda winds up "Undefeated, Untied and Uninvited", just like a famous football team of 70 some years ago. 

Tanzania came with 6 adults besides its coaches.  Every day, except Friday, at 4PM, a softball game broke out including the coaches, umpires and other adults, including several women, and some of the players.  Sides varied from 10 to 15 players and the games went on until 6PM.  Everyone had a grand time and the coaches of the visiting countries found out about how softball is played, so that they could go home to teach softball to the girls of their respective countries. 

We expect that next year, Rwanda will be join us in this tournament along with Burundi, as they have both contacted Uganda to help them get started with baseball and softball.  Uganda's goal is to make this tournament into the Regional Little League Middle East/Africa tournament with the winner going to the Little League World Series at the end of August. 

November 2009

 

South Africa has informed us that they intend to come to Uganda to play in the Middle East/Africa Regional Little League Tournament for boys ages 11 and 12 during late July or early August 2010 if it is played in Uganda instead of Europe.  They will join Cameroon, Kenya, South Sudan and Tanzania who have also indicated that they will send teams only if it is played in Uganda.  This is great news for what we are doing in Uganda.  We also know that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Dubai will attend if it is played in Uganda or Europe.  Rwanda and Burundi have also indicated that they would like to field a team, and we also expect several other African countries to join us if it is played in Uganda.  This puts a lot of pressure on Little League International to award the tournament to Uganda, but it also puts pressure upon Uganda to make sure the facility if built and operational to current western standards.  We need to not only finish the second dorm and make sure the guest house operates as a luxury hotel, but we also have to make sure we can feed and maintain up to 250 players and 50 coaches for about 8 days of the tournament.  We will be needing money and people to do the many jobs, including transport to the complex and maintenance of the facility.

 

As we already mentioned, Uganda will be hosting two training sessions in January.  Each one will be lasting 8 days and the second session will be a repeat of the first one.  The purpose of the sessions is to train coaches on how to coach baseball and softball.  We expect to host around 50 people from Eastern Africa during each session.  There is no charge for the sessions or room and board, all they have to do is show up on time.  The first session starts on January 15th and the second on January 24th.  The training will be done by two envoys sent and paid for by Major League Baseball.  All the trainees are expect to arrive the afternoon before each session begins.  Little League International will be using these two trainers from MLB to evaluate our facility to determine if it is suitable to host the Middle East/Africa Regional Tournament scheduled for late July or early August in 2010.  That means we will know if Uganda will host the tournament sometime around the early part of February 2010.

 

In March, we expect to be attending the Little League World Congress that is held every three years.  This one will be in Lexington, Ky during the middle of March.  We expect the Little League Africa Committee will be meeting face to face during the congress for the first time since it was formed 3 years ago at the last congress in Houston, Texas.  At the meeting we will be working on getting several of the Little League European/Middle East/Africa tournaments for the older players, 17-18 year olds and 15-16 year olds in baseball and girls softball to be played in Uganda in 2010 or future years.  We are working very hard on breaking Africa away from Europe and we can do it.  The biggest problem facing us is once again money.  Little League International pays for the regional winners to come to the World Championships every year, and in our estimate, it would cost them to send the eight teams from Africa to the U.S. every year about $1 million.  Little League International needs money to do this, as does the African Little League programs for equipment and travel to the regional tournaments.  If anyone knows how we can get this assistance, kindly let Little League International, the African Committee of Little League, or this web site how they can help.
 

December 2009

 

During December, the U.S. Coordinator traveled to Dubai for meetings with Dubai Little League, and then to Indianapolis, Indiana for the Annual Winter Baseball meetings.  In Dubai, it was suggested that if Uganda hosts the Middle East/Regional Tournament, moving it to mid June would attract several other countries, namely Egypt, Pakistan and others.  Mr. Anthony Collins of Dubai will be following up with these countries and keep us informed about the possibilities.  We had a very nice reception in Dubai.  Meanwhile, we continue to make great progress with Major League Baseball.  At the Winter Meetings, Mr. Dave Dombrowski, President and General Manager of the Detroit Tigers, Mr. Roland Hemond, Special Assistant to the President of the Arizona Diamond Backs and Mr. Joseph Reaves, Director, International Operations for the Los Angeles Dodgers are now joining with Uganda Little League Baseball to get on going support for the project from Major League owners, Administrators and even players.  They are telling our story and encouraging support from the people they deal with on a regular basis.  They will assist us in funding, equipment support and in training players and coaches.  The January program that is discussed below, is just the beginning.

 


 

February 2010

 

The first month of the new year has seen some very significant progress made in Uganda baseball.  Starting on Saturday, January 16, 33 want to be coaches of baseball and softball arrived at the complex.  Pat Doyle and Tom Gillespie, the two Major League Baseball instructors had already arrived late on Friday night.  After everyone settled down in the dorms, with Pat and Tom at the guest house, the classes began promptly at 8:30 every morning for the next 7 days.  Lunch was from 12:30 to 2PM, and diner from 6 to 7:30.  Each day ended with a short session from 7:30PM to about 8:15, followed by a hollywood comedy.  By the end of the program, would be coaches had been shown all aspects of fielding, throwing, hitting, running and playing the game in a classroom setting, watching the game played on the field and actually playing a softball game every afternoon from 4:30 to 6PM.  They had a wild celebration on the Friday night when certificates were handed out and went home Saturday afternoon knowing all aspects of the game. 

 

On Saturday, January 23, the second group of 30 arrived.  The same procedures were followed for them as the first group.  The only difference was that from Sunday, January 17 thru Monday, January 25, a game was played every day by players age 16-19, while from Thursday, January 21 thru Saturday, January 30, a game was also played by children age 10 thru 12.  Anytime a future coach wanted to see baseball being played by someone, all they had to do was look out the window and go to the field.  The one sad event happened just after Pat and Tom had instructed the players on calling each other off on fly balls to the short outfield.  The game that followed had a terrible collision between the center fielder and the shortstop, both going after the same short fly ball.  The shortstop was back playing the next day, despite the concussion and stitches in his lip from where his teeth broke thru the skin.  At the time it was ugly, but everything worked out fine.  The clinics had men and women representatives from Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Congo, South Sudan and representatives from all over Uganda.  With the players and coaches, we were housing and feeding at one time about 100 people for a period of 5 days. Everyone had a wonderful time.

 

On Monday, January 25, contracts were signed by Clive Russell of the MLB London office and NTV to broadcast Major League Baseball games on a delayed basis starting on Saturday morning, Feb. 6.  Major League Baseball will now be seen throughout Uganda on NTV every Saturday morning from 9-11AM and every Sunday from 11-noon.  The best game of the prior week will be shown every Saturday once the regular season begins in April, in the meantime, we will be showing the playoff games and World Series games of 2009.  Boys and girls, men and women will now be able to see and learn about the game of baseball on free television wherever electricity is available.  In addition, the nightly sports news will begin to cover Major League Baseball and Ugandan baseball and softball as part of their routine news coverage.

 

In late 2009, three Ugandan baseball clubs started to play every weekend.  It is expected that this will expand to 4, and eventually 6 and then 8 clubs in the near future.  It is from this program that an eventual National Team will be selected to represent Uganda in International competition.  Uganda Little League wishes to see this program continue to develop and will certainly supply a home for the entire program if they desire.  The Kenyan representative at our coaches clinic wants to start competition in several month at the complex.  We may wind up hosting best of 7 International Tournaments between Uganda, Kenya, South Africa and other African nations as early as later this year. 

 

The next big question is what happens to the Middle East/Africa Little League Regional Tournament for boys age 11-12?  We expect to hear about this in the near future.  We look forward to hosting the tournament this year, but that is not yet certain.  We should know in a couple of weeks.  We spent time with people from the American Embassy who came out to visit us in January.  They were very impressed by our complex and expressed a desire to bring embassy people to come to the complex for a picnic and a day of softball.  We are also working with them to make sure the team that wins the hoped for tournament in July has no problem getting visas for the travel to the Little League World Series within a  day of their victory. 

 

March 2010

 

Uganda needs $35,000 US to play in the Middle East/Africa tournament this July.  ARAMCO oil, alias Saudi Arabia Little League has Little League International tell African teams that if you want to play in the Middle East/Africa Regional tournament for boys age 11-12, they will have to come up with about $35,000US.

 

The every three year Little League Congress has just concluded in Lexington, Kentucky.  Uganda, representing the wishes of Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan who all had the hope of playing in the Middle East/Africa Regional Tournament with the winner going to the World Series this August have had their dreams shattered.  For three years, Uganda has been fighting to have this tournament played in Uganda.  In 2007, we were told the tournament had to be played in Poland because there was no place that could house it in Africa.  In early 2009, we were told that the tournament would still be played in Poland because in Little League's opinion, our facility would not be ready, instead you could host an All Africa Tournament expecting that it would never happen.  Much to Little League's surprise, Uganda did host the tournament for a full week and Tanzania, Kenya and South Sudan came and played.  Knowing the the Uganda facility was going to be totally finished early in 2010, Kenya, Tanzania, and South Sudan chartered with Little League with the dream of playing in the Middle East/Africa tournament, expecting it to be held at the brand new complex in Uganda.  Now, in order to live that dream, Little League International has once again told African teams it will cost you $35,000 to partake in the tournament because it will once again be held in Poland.  That is the cost to bring 14 players and 3 coaches to Poland, pay for the visas that the EU will do its best not give, and for food and other items.  Basically, an entry fee. 

 

Why is this tournament still in Poland?  No delegate at the recently concluded Little League Congress can figure out how Little League can put a Middle East/Africa tournament in Europe when Europe has nothing to do with the tournament.  It is the equivalent of having the Canadian Regional Championship played in the Caribbean Region.  What did come out at the Congress was the fact that ARAMCO Little League, alias Saudi Arabia refuses to play in Africa because they claim it is too dangerous.  When a Little League Official at the meeting that Uganda thought would determine where the tournament would be held was asked, "If the 9 chartered African countries voted to play in Uganda and the three Middle East chartered countries voted not to, where would the tournament be held?"  The answer was quick.  "In Poland."  While the African countries still thought the decision regarding location had not been made, it comes out that it was decided back in December and this entire show was a charade.

 

At the meeting, the Kuwait representative expressed a desire to visit Uganda.  He believes that he will also come with the Dubai representative, who did not attend the congress but in earlier conversations had indicated his desire to also come and play in Uganda.  Since it is so hot in the Middle East in July, they are thinking of bringing their tournament teams to Uganda to play and practice in a better environment.  We have agreed to work this out, probably the second week in July.  Uganda will once again, on its own, host our All Africa Tournament and now Kuwait and Dubai might join that tournament early in July.

 

Ms. Nakibuuka, our country director was very disturbed when she heard the Regional tournament would once again be back in Poland.  She firmly believes that we are forced to go in order to demonstrate that we will advance the baseball program in Uganda beyond the national tournaments and into the International Lime Light.  It will help with the government and the media.  Therefore, we now must find the $35,000US to get the team to Poland and once again fight the battle with the Polish embassy in Kenya over giving our children the visas they need to get there.  The problem now is where do we get the $35,000.  That amount of money could buy more than 16,000 baseballs or over 1,000 gloves, which is more gloves than currently exist in Uganda.  We could greatly expand the number of children playing baseball in East Africa.  Where does this leave Kenya, Tanzania and South Sudan.  The real question is how does ARAMCO exert such power over Little League International, that no matter what they want or do, is perfectly fine with Little League International, even though it will hinder children of East Africa from getting the chance to play the game due to lack of equipment.  Every reason that the delegates at the conference could come up with to explain this decision, all had a strange odor about them.  It would be unfortunate if any of them were true.  I just hope it is because they are afraid that a Ugandan team will beat them if they played.  That is another reason we must go to Poland.  We will prove that no matter what kind of entry fee you put before us, you cannot run away and hide.  We will come and get you.  We could use everyone's help in funding this trip.  Donations should be made to 303 Development Corp., which is a 501 c 3 not for profit in the U.S. where every cent goes to assist the Uganda Little League Baseball program.

 

May 2010

 

Uganda is preparing to send its 11-12 year old country champion to the" Middle East/Africa" Regional Little League Tournament in Kutno, Poland starting July 21.  We have to be in Kutno by the morning of July 20.  Due to capacity restrictions and cost factors, the Ugandan team will be leaving from Entebbe Airport late on July 16 with the expectation of arriving in Warsaw, Poland early in the afternoon of July17.  We will then have to make our way the 50 miles or so west to Kutno, where the tournament will be held.  This will be an interesting adventure.  At the time this is written, we are being told that Kutno will only house the players from July 18 on.  If that is true, we will have to now find a hotel in Warsaw to stay the night of July 17.  More cost.  It is now estimated that the total cost for this trip will be about $40,000 which includes travel, visa fees, meals, insurance etc.  We have to tell the other seven Ugandan Championship teams of boys and girls ages 11-12, 13-14, 15-16 and 17-18 that they cannot participate in their regional tournaments because to do so would cost an additional $280,000.  All this is because Saudi Arabia (almost all Americans) refuse to play baseball or softball anywhere in Africa and Little League International sacrifices Africa to benefit them.  Little League has made the $40,000 the cost to enter the European/Middle East/African regional tournaments for each African Little League team, and then wonders why no African teams come to play.

 

It is everyone's goal at Ugandan Little League to win this tournament and represent Uganda and the rest of Africa at the Little League World Series.  We are not sure if that will happen, but we will do our best.  The boys and girls age 11-12 tournaments are scheduled to run from June 10 thru 13.  They will be the last of the 8 National Championship tournaments this year.  Once they have concluded, we will immediately begin the visa process.  The EU visas will have to be obtained from the Polish Embassy in Kenya.  We have been told that it will more difficult to obtain these visas than in 2008 when it took us 3 weeks and many road blocks to finally get the visas at the very last minute.  Should we be delayed in getting these visas, we will lose the $30,000 in plane fare we have already paid on non refundable tickets and not get to Poland.

 

The Trenton Thunder, as they have done since 2004 have once again supplied us with uniform shirts and hats for the championship team.  The shirts are better than the ones that the team wore for the first African team to play in a European Regional tournament in 2008.  This time they all are numbered.  In 2008, they would not let us play unless all the players were numbered.  We accomplished that by using tape to make numbers that only had straight lines by using the numerals 1,2,4,and 7 and various combinations of them.  In addition to the numbers, every shirt has  "Uganda" printed on the sleeve.  Everyone in attendance will know where this team comes from.  In addition, there is a special shirt made up for the country director, Ms Priscilla Sarah Nakabuuka so everyone will know who is in charge of this operation. 

$35,000 Needed to send Ugandan team to Poland this July


$35,000 is needed so that the Uganda boys age 11-12 can go to Poland to play in the Middle East/Africa Regional Tournament.  Donations can be sent to 303 Development Corp at 366 Ardsley Street, Staten Island, N.Y. 10306.  All funds raised will go to support the travel costs of the Uganda Little League team.  They will leave Uganda on or about July 18 and return from Poland about July 27, 2010. 
Please note this ad is placed here for it's historical value, we did raise the $35,000.00 and we did go to Poland in July of 2010.

 

July 2010

Starting in late May and continuing thru June 13, 2010, Uganda hosted its eight Little League National Championship Tournaments at the complex.  Each tournament took place over a four day period.  Every team played at least 4 games during their stay.  Teams came from as far west as Bushenyi and as far east as Torero.  Lira could not send a team to compete in any of our tournaments because of travel costs.  This continues to be a problem in getting more teams to play in the National Tournaments.  We will be working on getting sponsorships to pay for travel costs of some teams in the future.

Every National Champion has the opportunity to play in the Little League Regional Tournaments, but unfortunately, all those tournaments continue to be held in Europe, which means each team we send would have to come up with the $40,000 entry fee, (travel costs) that Little League continues to impose upon African teams by refusing to allow any of these tournaments to be held in Africa.  At this moment, Uganda has built the facility at our Little League complex to host these tournaments, but as of yet, none of them will be played in Uganda this year.

Starting on July 4, 2010 Uganda will host an African tournament for boys 11-12.  We know teams from Tanzania, Kenya and South Sudan will once again travel to the complex to play a full 7 days of baseball, just as they did last August.  These three teams thought they might be playing in the Middle East/Africa tournament this July, but unfortunately, they will not be able to travel to Poland because they do not have the $40,000 entry fee Little League International is charging them and no matter who wins this tournament, only Uganda will be traveling to Poland.

On the evening of July 16, the Uganda 11-12 boys team will board a SN Brussels Air Plane to begin their trip to Kutno, Poland.  They will fly to Brussels and land there about 6AM on July 17.  They will then fly to Warsaw and arrive there at 3:10PM on July 17 and board a bus for the two hour ride to Kutno.   SN Brussels Airline has been most helpful in working with us on getting us the best fare and allowing us to wait until our tournament was over before submitting the names of the passengers for the tickets.  Not every airline would do this.

The tournament will begin play on July 20.  We believe at this time that South Africa, Kuwait, Dubai and Saudi Arabia will join Uganda in this tournament.  The winner will be going to play in the Little League World Series in mid August.  In order to prepare for the possible trip to the U.S., the traveling party had to apply for their U.S. visas in mid June, even though we may never need them.  Should we win in Poland, Mr. John Hoover at the U.S. Embassy, who has been a big help to us, has arranged for the entire traveling party to go to the Embassy for the visa interview as a group shortly after they return to Uganda on July 27.

As you may be aware of, Opposite Field Productions has been filming in Uganda the Little League program since last June.  They will be following the team to Poland and have informed us that they expect to film each game Uganda plays in with three cameras.  They have also attempted to work out an arrangement where they will edit the game film of each day and try and send it back to NTV and UBS, two television stations in Uganda, in time so that they can show the film on their evening news programs.   Both stations have covered our tournament play and featured the results on the evening broadcast, including the news programs that they also broadcast in the native language. 

NTV has been broadcasting a Major League Baseball game every Sunday from 8AM to 11AM.  During the two Sundays that our tournaments were being played on, we had as many as 50 players watching the game on the television set in the Guest House.  NTV is very happy with the ratings, which have gone up since the baseball programming started back in February with games from last fall.  MLB's London office selects a game played during the week, puts it on a disc and sends it to Uganda to be shown on the Sunday.  People are learning about baseball as a result.  They know it is an American game, but it has never received any coverage in any media until now, other than cable television, which is expensive in Uganda and only shows the live ESPN games that start at 3AM in the morning Uganda time.

During the tournaments, we once again ran the Pitch, Hit and Run program sponsored by Major League Baseball and Aquafina.  We had winners in the 13-14 and 11-12 age group.  Unfortunately, our winners only get the ribbons and do not get a chance to compete at their local Major League Ball Park, nor the Major League All Star Game.  But they do have a good time cheering for their teammates, as each team at each tournament selects three players in each event to represent their team.  The winners pictures will be posted on the web site shortly.

 

 

Middle East/Africa Regional Tournament, July 2010
Failure of Little League Officials in Poland and Williamsport to understand And Communicate Tie Breaker Rule costs Uganda trip to Little League World Series

 

All the people involved in baseball in Kutno Poland recognized that Uganda was the best baseball team they had seen in years and had the best chance of competing, and possibly winning the Little League World Series this August. Unfortunately, they will be home instead of being in Williamsport. The story of how this happens is as follows.

 

The Uganda Little League Team left Entebbe Airport on the evening of Friday, July 16, 2010. It arrived in Warsaw at 3:30PM on July 17 and proceeded to Kutno, arriving at about 6:30PM. The team practices on Sunday and Monday and submits the passports and birth certificates to the Kutno Administration upon its arrival. On Monday morning, it is discovered that two of the 12 players are considered 10 year olds and will not be allowed to play. This is an error on Uganda's part as based upon our 2008 experience when 6 of the 12 players that came to Poland that year were considered 10 year olds. At that time, Uganda thought players had to be 12 or under. They were allowed to play in 2008, but not in this year. Unfortunately, when the passports for the players were obtained in late June, the players were 11 years old, but on April 30, they were 10. Uganda's mistake. Since they were already in Kutno, Uganda was told that they could not play. Uganda was down to 10 players and all the teams in Kutno knew what happened. To keep the players with the team, the two 10 year olds were used as third base coaches during the games. This will come into play shortly.

 

The tournament begins with a coaches, umpires and league administrators meeting on Tuesday evening. Schedule, times, rules and administration procedures are discussed in some detail. Uganda asks that the tie breaker rule be reviewed. The Chief Umpire and Regional Administrator say it is clearly covered in the rule book on page T28. This will also come into play shortly.
Uganda plays its first game against South Africa on Wednesday. They give up a bottom of the first inning home run to fall behind 1-0 and then win the game 12-4, hitting 5 home runs from 5 different players. Everyone is surprised at the fielding and throwing ability of the team as all teams are scouting everyone else. The second game is against Dubai and Uganda wins by a score of 13-3 on Wednesday morning. That evening, they play the second game of the day at 6:30PM.

 

This is necessary as the schedule calls for everyone to play 4 games in 3 days. This game is against Saudi Arabia, a team that is arrogant and nasty to everyone and a team that hasn't lost in Poland in over 25 years. Uganda wins by a score of 9-3 and ends the game with a pitcher to home to first to third triple play, after they had walked the bases loaded and forced in a run. This shocks everyone in the skill in which it was done. Everyone is cheering the victory. People drive out from town upon hearing the results. Hotel people are happy, and everyone is congratulating the Uganda kids. The nasty part of this game is that the Saudi Team, in the 6th inning, protests the game because we had a 10 year old coaching third base. In their opinion, he had so much skill he influenced the outcome of the came. Because it is Saudi Arabia, Little League entertains the protest even though its own rules on page T11, say that the protest must be made to the umpire in chief at once. Saudi Arabia knew, as did everyone playing in the games, that the 10 year olds had been coaching 3rd base from our first game on. Therefore, the protest should have been made as soon as the 10 year old showed up in the coaching box, at the start of the bottom of the first inning. The result is the 10 year olds are not allowed anywhere on the field or in the dugout, and one of our two coaches is suspended for our next and final game, and cannot even watch the game from the stands.

 

On Friday, Uganda plays the very last game of pool play against our last opponent, Kuwait, who had lost to Saudi Arabia on Thursday morning after holding the lead throughout the game until very poor play handed the game to Saudi Arabia. They have saved their best player and pitcher, a young lady, to pitch against us. She is very good. The 3PM game starts in very cool, about 57 degrees, damp and windy conditions. Our team does not play well and we are using our number 9 pitcher as most of our normal pitchers are not able to pitch this game due to the strict pitching rules of Little League. A pitcher can only pitch in one game per day, and if they throw from 21 to 35 pitches, they cannot pitch the next day, 36-50, they cannot pitch for 2 days, 51-65 they cannot pitch for 3 days, and no pitcher can pitch more than 85 pitches on any day. Uganda has used several pitches for 21-35 pitches because they do not want any pitcher to pitch every day, and thus, have no pitcher available for this game other than our 9th pitcher.

 

Uganda is the home team and falls behind in the 3rd inning by 8-0 due to a grand slam home run after an error and 3 walks. Lightening halts the game for 30 minutes. The team is very flat, swinging at bad pitches and letting good pitches go for called 3rd strikes. We have struck out more times in three innings than in the prior three games. In the middle of the 4th inning, the game is held up for another 35 minutes due to a thunder storm. We are now losing 9-0. In the 5th inning, we hit a home run and shortly thereafter, Kuwait's pitcher reaches the 85 pitch maximum and needs to be replaced.

 

Several people ask the head umpire and Administrator about the tie breaker rule. They are told it is total runs allowed divided by innings played. The two lowest numbers will go to the championship game. When the game started, Uganda had allowed 10 runs, Kuwait 14 runs, and Saudi Arabia 17 runs in 4 games. As the 6th inning is being played, Uganda has now given up 9 more runs, or is up to 19 in 4 games, higher than Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. If it wants to make it to the championship game, it needs to score at least 4 more runs because Kuwait will have only played 22 innings and Uganda will have played 23 innings due to having been involved in mercy rule games. With 2 out in the bottom of the 6th inning, Uganda scores 5 runs. Loses the game by 9-6, but is told they will be playing in the championship game on Saturday. Kuwait is unhappy, but still congratulates Uganda because Uganda has an excellent chance of winning as they are the best team and Kuwait has no one to pitch in the championship game on Saturday.

 

A barbeque and singing and dancing contests are held after the game and everyone comes and has a good time except Saudi Arabia, as they consider this party as beneath them. Everyone else is anticipating the championship game to be played between Uganda and Saudi Arabia on Saturday and are wishing Uganda their best, including the umpires and regional administrators.

 

At about 9 PM, as the party is winding down, Uganda is told they have to come to a special meeting. The Regional Administrator and the Head Umpire notify Uganda and Kuwait that Williamsport has corrected a mistake that Poland has made. Poland sends Williamsport the results of every game and also notified them about Uganda playing Saudi Arabia for the championship on Saturday. Williamsport says that the tie breaker was misunderstood in Poland and that because Uganda scored 2 or more runs with two out in the last inning, they eliminated themselves from the championship game. They say the runs per inning played number only applies to the first team into the championship game. The second team will be determined by head to head play. As a result of the Uganda Kuwait game, Saudi Arabia has the lowest run per inning ratio and Kuwait beat Uganda. If Uganda had scored no runs in the last inning, they would be playing Kuwait for the championship, but by scoring two or more runs, Kuwait will play Saudi Arabia for the championship, and the team that everyone thought was the best team, will be going home.

 

In summary, in doing what they were told to do to get into the championship game (score runs) by the Kutno Little League Officials, Uganda eliminated themselves from the championship, and a team that never should have been in the championship game will represent the Middle East/Africa region in Williamsport. You cannot make this stuff up.

 


 

October 2010 - Modern Breast Cancer Imaging Clinic to be built at Baseball complex.

Uganda Little League has formally partnered with the Uganda Cancer Research Foundation and the Technicsan Medical group to build the most modern western breast imaging clinic in the world.  This clinic will set the standard for detecting the early onset of breast cancer world wide.  It will also be part of the future research on combating the development of breast cancer.  The anticipated start up is scheduled for late June 2011 depending upon the availability of the scanning instruments from Techniscan.

The formal proposal states that UCRF(USA), UCRF(Uganda), Techniscan Medical, and Uganda Little League Baseball join together to plan, build and operate a Medical Clinic for the main purpose of Breast cancer screening and diagnosis.  The Clinic will guarantee the best treatment for women diagnosed with breast cancer by leading breast cancer surgeons and medical oncologist in Uganda at a leading hospital.  The guarantee will be established through a memorandum of understanding with the clinicians and the hospital.  The Clinic will be built on Uganda Little League land about 20 kilometers west of Kampala.

Uganda Little League has some land that it will not be using.  The medical clinic will also have a first aid function for the local village and for participants in Little League baseball and softball tournaments.  A doctor and nurse will always be available right on the baseball complex property during every event that is held at the complex and the eventual school, when the school is built.

UCRF obtains the most modern means of detecting early stage breast cancer and will be participants in finding the cure and prevention of breast cancer based upon the new technology that Techniscan Medical brings to the complex.  Uganda doctors will be trained upon reading images that will show cancer developments much sooner than any other method available to most women in the world in a continent where it has been determined that breast cancer tends to develop about 10 years before it does in the rest of the world.  By using the Techniscan instruments, doctors will be able to follow the effects different treatments have on these growths in the breast.  By using modern computer networks, doctors anywhere in the world could have access to these studies and scans that will be done at the clinic.  Uganda Little League is proud to be a part of this project that will do so much for combating and possibly eliminating death and disfigurement by cancer to women in Uganda.


January 2011:

2010 Uganda team to PolandIn January, Uganda Little League will once again be working with Major League Baseball in running a two week program starting the middle of January 2011 at the baseball complex. 

This will be a unique program.  We expect to invite about 60 of the best baseball playing boys ages 14-15, with some of the best 13 year olds and also some 16 year olds to the complex starting about January 14. 

We will also invite baseball coaches who currently are coaching programs in East Africa to also attend since this program is for their benefit also.

During the first 6 days, the players will be broken up into 4 teams each day and they will play a game each afternoon.  During the morning, they will be going through different drills.  On the evening of the 6th day, a draft will be held to formally divide the players into 4 teams that will participate in a tournament during the second week.  The people doing the draft will be the people from Major League Baseball.  After the draft is over, explanations will be held on the reasons why certain players were taken first, second etc.  What talents were they looking for that they deemed most important and which were deemed less important.

During the second week, the teams will practice under the direction of the MLB managers who will also bring some of the East Africa Coaches into their program.  Here the coaches will learn what kind of drills are to be preformed to develop the talent.  A game will be played each day and here the coaches will learn how to set a lineup, handle a pitching staff and manage a game with the idea of winning a tournament title.  At the end of the week, semifinal games and a championship game will be held.  We hope this will be a great learning experience on managing a baseball team to win in a tournament setting and also give the players a chance to demonstrate their talent so that word can spread to the baseball world that there is great baseball talent coming up in Uganda.  We would hope to continue doing this kind of a program every January.  

 

February 2011:

January saw many things happening in Uganda.  During the first half, construction on fields 3,4 and 5 was taking place.  A front end loader, bull dozer and three trucks were being used to cut deeper into our hillside to expand the size of fields 3 and 4 to bring them up to 330 feet down each line and 400 feet to center field.  We managed to complete the work in time for the two week clinic that the MLB Envoys would help us run from January 14 thru January 28.  While fields 3 & 4 were expanded and were playable for the clinic, field 5 still needs more work done to get it playable.  That will be done in the near future.  Field 3 & 4, while expanded, also had new mounds put in place and, and while relatively level and playable, they still need top soil placed down and grass planted, which will happen over the next two months or so.  Construction was also started in late December on a kitchen, storeroom and eating area to feed and house over 150 diners at a time protected from the sun and weather.  While it was used to cook and feed over 110 people for 15 straight days, it still needs a tile floor installed for easy cleaning and the storeroom needs shelves and a locked door installed over the next couple of weeks.  While incomplete at the moment, it was a huge upgrade over prior events at the complex and was well liked by everyone in attendance. 

The clinic was a very interesting event.  It featured over 70 players aged 13 thru 16, and over 50 other coaches and officials from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and the U.S.  The guest house was home for 5 American visitors and two high level Kenya government officials.  The food they ate was different from what was being served in the eating area that was feeding over 110 clinic participants.  The guest house hostess added some western flavor to a variety of Uganda items, and some wine and beer was available at each diner.  In addition to the two MLB Envoys who arrived the evening of January 13, Paul Post, who had written several articles for national and local newspapers, came with an assistant to see first hand what was happening in Uganda.  They arrived on January 15 and returned to the U.S. on January 22.  The guest house never housed as many foreign visitors as it did this January.

The players arrived on January 14 and play began the next day.  Our goal was to have the best 14-15 year olds present, with a few of the best 13 year olds and to eventually break them up into 4 teams and have them play an 8 day tournament over the last week of the clinic.  The coaches would learn how to handle a tournament team with the idea of winning and how to handle a pitching staff where a game had to be played every day, and you needed to win as many games possible without overworking the pitchers.  While 45 players participated in this tournament on field 3 and 4, the other 25 or so less advanced, went through their own drills and played their own games on field one and two under the supervision of one of the Envoys. 

Every day started with the players, on their own, out at dawn at 6:30AM, running on their own.  Breakfast was at 7:30.  A meeting was held at 9AM to discuss the plans and to view videos on the training topic of the day.  By 10AM, everyone was on the field going thru practice of playing actual games with no inning starting after 12:15, because lunch was served at 12:30.  Play and drills resumed by 2PM until about 5PM.  At 5PM, a spirited softball game was played by the coaches on field one until 6PM.  The first two games for the coaches, which featured 13 to 14 fielders at times and a few more batters, were "T" ball games.  The subsequent games were slow pitch games with two swings the limit.  We went from 6 inning games in the hour to 12 to 14 inning games by the second week.  A great way for the coaches to learn first hand how to play the game.  We had 6 women coaches who played every game, as they will be coaching girls softball in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.  Everyone had a wonderful time and the players, not being used to playing every day, much less for 8 hours every day, were getting worn down by the end of the second week.  Non the less, that did not stop them from coming to the guest house at 8PM to watch more DVD's on baseball followed by movies.

Based upon our conversations with the two Envoys, we will be working on installing two batting tunnels in the courtyard of dorm 2 over the next few months.  We also intend to extend the reach of our coaching abilities into the north, and the east of Uganda to concentrate on under 12 and the 13-14 year old group.  We expect to have at least 6 strong leagues covering this area where we will have 60 or more excellently coached boys in each age group playing a game every week of the year.  Each league will bring their best 14 players in May and August, when school is not in session, to play against the other leagues at the complex in a 2 week tournament, with a game every day.  In addition, the Uganda Commissioner of Sports is in the process of starting sports schools where a secondary school will concentrate on one sport.  He has asked each federation to supply coaching to teach the teachers in the school how to coach the sport that the school will specialize in.  The government will supply the teachers to be trained and will build the sport infrastructure.  They are asking the federations, and baseball and softball, to supply the coaching and training for teaching the game and maintaining the facility.  We have volunteered to train all the schools.  They want to start with 20 and go to 150 in about 3 or 4 years.  How many will be baseball oriented, we have yet to hear.  If this happens and we are given several of these schools, our pool of players will expand exponentially, which is what we need to happen to find the truly talented players in the country.


U.S. Embassy and Peace Corps joins Uganda Commissioner of Sports in Expanding Baseball and Softball

April 2011

During March, several significant developments took place that may prove to be major advances in giving thousands of Ugandan children the opportunity to play baseball and softball.  Back in January, Uganda Little League was asked to attend the roll out of the new schools sports program of the Commissioner of Sports.  The main purpose was to get the teachers to learn how to be excellent coaches for a specific sport so that they could teach the children the proper way to play that particular sport in their school.  In his plan, a secondary school in each of the over 130 districts would be set up to concentrate on a particular sport.  The government would provide the funding for the facilities needed and also designate the teachers to be trained to coach that sport.  Annual tournaments of the schools designated for a particular sport would be held to determine National Champions.  This program would start with 20 secondary schools and when proven successful, would be expanded to each district.  The January meeting was aimed to get the support of the various federations to do the training of the teachers to become coaches for their sports.  Baseball and softball volunteered to train the teachers in every school that the Commissioner would assign to us for baseball and softball.  Of the 20 federations at the meeting, only two other federations offered to assist without asking for government money.  If the Commissioner gives us 10% of the schools, baseball would expand by 25,000 players or more.

We would be able to train the teachers by using our existing coaches in conjunction with the MLB Envoy program we run every January.  On March 22, we met with the Peace Corps Associate Director - Education and the Programming and Training Officer.  We explained to them about the Sports Commissioner's ideas.  We also suggested that Peace Corp volunteers would be perfect trainers of these teachers in the various sports the Commissioner would like the teachers trained in.  We found out, that one of the missions of the Peace Corps in Uganda is to develop sports programs in the schools.  They admitted that they have not had too much success in this mission over the last two years in motivating the schools to do this.  But now comes the Sports Commissioner's program that address the very problem the Peace Corps was having a hard time solving.  We have now put them together and we have also offered to assist in the training via our own programs. 

Enter the Embassy.  During the middle of March, a softball tournament was held amongst several teams, of which one was from the U.S. Embassy.  The Deputy Chief of Mission threw out the first pitch.  I had an opportunity, as did several other people, to talk to her about baseball in Uganda.  A subsequent newspaper article with her picture on it indicated that she was very happy to see baseball and softball expanding in Uganda.  The Peace Corps supposedly meets with the embassy every week.  The Peace Corps people were going to bring up the topic of them possibly joining with the Commissioner of Sports to expand sports into the areas of Uganda where the Peace Corps operates.  We would also hope that the Embassy might aid the Peace Corps in this program by possibly supplying baseball equipment  where needed.  If all goes well, Uganda Little League has the facilities to house and host National tournaments of all ages in baseball and softball.  We can have hundreds of truly trained coaches supported by the government, the Peace Corps, Major League Baseball and possibly the U.S. Embassy coaching many thousands of children in how to play and getting them the chance to play this great game of baseball and softball on a National Level.  If all goes as planned, the Dominican Republic may no longer be the prime supplier of baseball talent to the Major Leagues in about 5 to 10 years.  The big advantage Uganda has is all the players speak English.
 


July 29, 2011 - No Little League World Series for Ugandan Team - NY Times

Published: July 29, 2011 

By LYNN ZINSER

For nearly two weeks, the players of the Rev. John Foundation Little League team from Kampala, Uganda, believed they were headed to Williamsport, Pa., for the Little League World Series. The team of 11 to 13 year olds, which plays with donated equipment, was the first African team to advance that far.  But their fairy tale story ran smack into United States immigration red tape. The players and their coaches learned this week that at least some of the team’s visa applications were denied by the State Department. The Little League World Series, which begins Aug. 19, will proceed without them.  “It is unfortunate, as we were very much looking forward to welcoming the first African team to the Little League Baseball World Series,” Stephen Keener, president of Little League Baseball and Softball, said in a statement.

The Ugandans were tripped up by their country’s inconsistent infrastructure and the United States’ strict requirements for travel visas. The State Department did not give specific reasons for the denial, but it told Little League officials that there were discrepancies in the players’ documentation. In Uganda, birth certificates are far from the norm, and establishing someone’s age and identity is complicated because parents and guardians are often illiterate.  “It is a difficult situation, I won’t deny that,” the State Department spokesman Mark C. Toner said Friday at a news briefing. “But you know, these cases are adjudicated by consular officials who look very closely at all the appropriate data, and they make their decisions based on that.”  

The Ugandan children play baseball because an American — Richard Stanley, a part owner of the Trenton Thunder, the Yankees’ Class AA affiliate — introduced the sport to the country eight years ago.  “This would have been huge for kids all over Africa,” Stanley said Friday. “This is a great opportunity to expand the sport. All these kids want is an opportunity to go out and play. They have the talent. They don’t have the facilities.”

Jay Shapiro, who has been following the team for two and a half years while filming a documentary, “Opposite Field,” said in a telephone interview from Kampala that the players were crushed when they heard the news and that the embassy employee who told them on Wednesday was so upset “she had tears in her eyes.”  The team had come agonizingly close to qualifying a year ago, beating Saudi Arabia in a qualifying tournament in Kutno, Poland, but Shapiro said they lost the next day to Kuwait because of a tiebreaker rule. This year, it beat Saudi Arabia on July 16 and returned to Kampala full of hope about a trip to the United States. 

Shapiro said the State Department was right to question the players’ documentation, which he called incomplete. Documenting birth is not a simple process in Uganda, Shapiro said. Birth certificates are scarce, especially in the countryside. Many children are not born in hospitals. Some of their parents are illiterate, and in many cases the people raising the children are not their birth parents. A year ago, Little League officials asked Shapiro to gather the necessary documentation and oversee the process when the team qualified for the tournament in Poland.  This summer, Shapiro was not in Uganda. He had wrapped up the film after last season, but he and his crew flew back to Kampala after the team qualified for the World Series to add to the film. He said after the visas were denied, he looked at the players’ documentation and found it incomplete.  “Last year’s team, I’m 100 percent convinced of the legitimacy of that team,” Shapiro said. “This one, I couldn’t say I was 100 percent convinced. The paperwork was sloppy. In reality, they shouldn’t have even been allowed to go to Poland in the first place. This should have been caught earlier.”

Before granting a visa to travel to the United States, the American Embassy requires interviews with each child and his parents. If any of their answers differ from what is on the paperwork, it is considered a discrepancy.  “I don’t think any of them were deliberately trying to give false information,” Shapiro said. “They were just mistakes. But the result is the same. And I don’t disagree with their decision.”  Toner, the State Department spokesman, said he did not know how many of the players were denied visas.  “It’s unclear to me whether it was a preponderance of the kids, so that the team was no longer viable, if you will, or whether every individual on the team was denied,” he said.  Stanley said he hoped Little League officials would appeal to the State Department, but Pat Wilson, the vice president for operations for the Little League, said that would not happen.  “We are going to respect their decision,” he said. “We don’t think it would be appropriate for us to call into question their determination.”  Wilson said there was no precedent for a team’s qualifying for the Little League World Series but failing to gain entry into the United States.  He said a few teams have had last-minute hitches in the process, but all were worked out. 

Stanley said he considered it a major setback to his efforts in Uganda. He became involved eight years ago after visiting the country for a United Nations economic development program and said he had spent more than $1.5 million building facilities and setting up a program. He said he paid for the team to travel to Poland for the qualifying tournament in 2008, in 2010 and again this year. He said each trip cost about $35,000.  He said his goal was to build sports schools that emphasize academics and athletics.  “When I talked to the minister of sports, he asked me, ‘Can we win at this sport?’ ” Stanley said. “That’s what they care about, because they can’t win at anything. They have great talent there, but I told them: ‘You have to teach the kids. And those kids will play all day long if you give them the opportunity.’ ”

Shapiro said Little League should require teams attempting to qualify for the World Series to go through a preliminary visa approval process so that there are no last-minute disappointments.  “It’s a shame,” Shapiro said. “Their country isn’t ready for this. The schools aren’t ready. The parents aren’t ready. The only thing that’s ready are the kids and their talent. They will make it one day, and if there is anything positive out of this, it’s for people to realize what wonderful things are happening with these kids. They’ve got their own little world growing here.”

 


 

July 7, 2011    Uganda team gets Polish visas


On July 1, we were told by Little League International that visas might be obtained from the Polish Embassy in Nairobi if only the coaches who were to travel to Poland would show up at the Polish Embassy at 9AM on Tuesday July 5 with the money, the proof of medical insurance, the notarized parents consent forms, the photos, the letter from the baseball federation, the letter from the Sports Commissioner, proof that the airline tickets were already paid for, and the visa applications for the team and coaches.  This was done, and with the help of the U.S. State Department people, what normally takes 15 days to process was done in two.  As of Thursday morning, July 7, the coaches were handed the visas that now allows the team to fly to Poland, leaving Uganda at 2AM on July 10. 


The two coaches will now make the 12 to 16 hour bus trip back to the baseball complex after spending Monday thru Thursday in Kenya.  They should arrive on Friday morning and have about 36 hours to gather the team together, collect their equipment for the trip to Poland and get to the airport late Saturday night.

 


Help send Uganda baseball teams to Poland

Let them show how good they are
 

Uganda will have two excellent baseball teams ready to play in the Europe/Middle East/Africa Little League Regional Tournaments in July.  The 11-12 year old team is supposed to be even better than the team the went to Poland last year, and this time should become the first African team to make it to the Little League World Series.  The 13-14 year old team should have many of the players that were the best 11-12 team that played in Poland last July. 

The major problem will once again be money.  To send each team to Poland requires about $35,000.  $25,000 is in airfare and the rest is in visas, transport from Warsaw to Kutno and meals and other expenses for the 15 travelers.  By keeping these tournaments in Europe, Little League makes it almost impossible for African teams to participate due to these very high travel costs.  Please help Uganda to show that their children can produce superior players and coaches to anything Europe and the Middle East can.  They just need a fair chance to get to the Little League World Series. 


UGANDA'S STRUGGLE TO OVERCOME THE OBSTACLES TO PLAY IN THE MIDDLE EAST/AFRICA REGIONAL TOURNAMENT

**  Why African Countries don't participate in Little League Tournaments  **

June 2011

Little League Middle East/Africa Regional Tournament for boys  ages 11-12 will once again be held in Kutno, Poland from July 13-17, 2011.  Why Africa is even mentioned in the title escapes most people, since it will never be held in Africa and virtually no African teams participate because of the obstacles Uganda will attempt to overcome for the third time.

Does Little League officialdom hinder African participation?  You be the judge as Uganda faces obstacle after obstacle.

The primary problem for African teams is cost to get to the tournament in Poland.  Uganda's cost is estimated at $35,000US.  No other participant in any Little League Tournament in the world faces such a high entry cost.

The problem that will stop Uganda's participation is getting the visa that would allow them to travel to Poland.  Since the tournament is held in Poland, that will require Uganda to apply for the visas at the Polish Embassy.  Since Uganda has no Polish Embassy, it requires travel to Kenya, the nearest Polish Embassy.  This same problem will face most African countries since most countries in Africa do not have a Polish Embassy.  We are told the normal visa procedure takes two weeks time.  That means at least two trips to Kenya or you stay two weeks in Kenya. 

Paper work required by the embassy:  First of all you need to provide proof that you have paid for the airline ticket as the visa will only be good for the date you leave until the day you return and this information can only be provided by the airline that will not give it to you until you have paid for the tickets in full.  If you do not get the visas, most airlines will return most of the money you paid for the tickets over a period of time.  All the airlines have this policy knowing how hard it is for Africans to get visas to the EU or to the U.S.  A letter of Invitation from Little League in Poland is required.  The Polish embassy now requires a letter from the Uganda Baseball and Softball Federation allowing the Little League Team to travel.  They also require a similar letter from the Ugandan Commissioner of Sports.  Then we must get letters from the parents of each player allowing him or her to travel.  This letter has to be notarized, which in Uganda can only be done by a lawyer at a cost of about $50US per player.

In order to get a visa, each traveler needs a passport.  To get the passports for each child requires the payment of about $150US per player and to get it rapidly, 3-5 days, we were told we needed a letter of invitation from Poland inviting the team.  Little League in Poland says they will not send this letter until we give the names of all the players and their passport numbers.   We can't get passport numbers rapidly without the letter.  Thus we lose two weeks of time waiting for the passports in order to get the letter of invitation.

Now comes the question of birth certificates.  This is going to always be a problem since most births have not been registered in Uganda, as in most African countries.  This problem has been brought to Little League Baseball's attention since at least 2004 and little has been done to address the problem.  We have suggested going to the school where the player first registered for Primary one, or first grade and use that date for the date of birth.  This year Little League asked for us to go back to the school the child attends to get the school, with official stamp on school letter head to state the child's birth.  This is all verbal, but nothing on paper.  We have done this.

As we write this, we have been informed by the Polish Embassy in Kenya that in order to get a visa, a new requirement is that each child and coach seeking a visa must apply in person and wait the two weeks to get the visa.  This will require each child to travel to Kenya at a cost of $150US each, stay at a hotel for two weeks, miss school which is in session from late May until early August, to get a visa to play in the Little League Regional Tournament.  As it stands now, Uganda will not be going to Poland to play because they are being denied the visa that would allow them to get on the plane leaving July 10.  We have already spent many thousands of dollars which have all gone to waste.

Holding this and other tournaments in Africa eliminates all the visa problems.  In Uganda, the visitor obtains his visa when he arrives at the airport.  All that needs to be done is to pay the $50 as you go through immigration control upon arrival.  Will Little League International ever hold the tournament in Africa?  The answer we keep getting is "No!"  Thus Uganda will forever be prohibited from participating in the Middle East/Africa Tournament for 11&12 year olds and 13-14 year olds since they will always be held in Poland.


Can Uganda Little League get VISAs to play in the Little League Word Series?

 

October 2011
 

In early September, a meeting was held at the U.S. Embassy with Uganda Little League and the U.S. Ambassador, his first assistant, the head of the visa section and the Embassy PR man.  We informed the ambassador that we do not intend to stop the program to develop baseball in Uganda.  He was very happy to hear that.  Thus the purpose of the meeting was to see how we can bring next year's World Series Eligible teams to play in the Little League World Series.  We have assured him that Uganda will continue to produce superior teams that should each year be playing in the Regional Championship games in our region every year and at every level that we can afford to send them to play.

 

The result of the meeting was that the problem was not age, contrary what an ill informed State Department Spokesperson in Washington said at a Friday press briefing in early August.  There were two problems.  One that can be easily fixed, and one that may create problems for certain children if we try and fix it easily. 

 

Problem one was how authentic were the birth certificates.  One has to remember that birth certificates are not routinely given out in Uganda and most people know what month and year they were born, but many do not know the day they were born.  In order to play in the Little League Regional Tournaments, the players need a birth certificate and a passport to get them to another country. To get a visa to Poland takes about 15 business days.  To get a passport takes about two weeks under normal conditions.  In order to save time, I supplied the money and the coaches got the birth certificates and the passports.  That was mistake number one.   There is only one office in Uganda that according to the U.S. embassy can issue official birth certificates, and since the parents are asked the date of birth on the birth certificates when they visit the embassy, and then who got the birth certificates, the coaches could be in danger of "Child Trafficking", a major crime.  To fix this in the future, the parents of the guardians of each player will now have to have their parents obtain the birth certificate at the proper ministry.  Easy to fix, but takes time and money, which means now the team has to be selected in early May in order to get their birth certificates, passports, visas and tickets to the Regional Tournaments.

 

Now the problem that can be fixed easily which will exclude many players, or may not be fixable under current State Department Rules.  According to the embassy, when the U.S. visa is applied for, the parents named on the birth certificate need to be present at the embassy to prove they are the parents or guardians and that they can grant permission for the child to travel.  This does not apply if the person is age 18 or above, only if the person is a minor, and that is all the embassy is concerned with, not the actual age.  If the two people named on the birth certificate do not come to the embassy, then the person who does come needs to have a "Court Order" that states they are the person responsible for the welfare of the child.  If a parent is dead, they must present a "Death Certificate" which almost no one in Uganda obtains.  Many of the children that play baseball in Uganda are taken care of by one parent, an aunt, grandmother, sister of a relative or other person.  None have "Court Orders".  Should the Uganda team apply for visas to come to the U.S. next July, we have only about 2 weeks to apply for and get the visas at a cost of $140.00 each.  Who is going to get a lawyer and apply for, pay for, and obtain a Court Order in those two weeks.  We could restrict our players to only those that have both parents on the birth certificate alive.  If that is the case, we will be telling most of the children in Uganda that you are not allowed to play for the dream of making it to the Little League World Series, but we will have no problem getting the visas.  I would rather abandon Little League if we had to do that.

 

We hope that Little League and the U.S. State Department might take into account the type of program the Little League World Series has been and will continue to be.  If this cannot be worked out, I am sad to say that Little League Baseball and Softball in Africa will only be for the wealthy.

 


Special Christmas for Uganda Little League

Santa Claus came in many forms to visit Uganda Little League this December.  Major League  Baseball came for the ninth consecutive year bearing gloves and baseballs.  This time, something very special was added.  The DVD package of discs of the 2011 World Series was added.  This valuable present will enable us to really show the coaches at the January clinic how to really play the game of baseball.  There were so many things that took place in this World Series that anyone paying the slightest attention can learn so much in coaching the game.  We will be able to use this year after year as the Ugandan players and coaches become more skilled in playing the game and thus more competitive in International Competition.

A second Santa Claus was Ms. Susan Birnbaum of the New York City Police Foundation.  Her daughter at her high school in Westchester County started a drive to collect slightly used baseball and softball equipment.  On December 17, they became the first individual donors to collect and deliver baseball equipment to Pitch In For Baseball for the children of Uganda.  We have offers from several other people who wish to do this, but they were the first.  We hope several others will join them in the near future.

Santa Claus number three has to be Wilson Sporting Goods.  At the December Winter Meetings, we managed to speak to the leadership of Wilson and expressed our need to obtain many gloves and baseballs for our program in Uganda.  They said they could help, and did they ever.  We hope to be part of their annual program in the future, as we were this December.  We were able to purchase hundreds of gloves and baseballs at amazingly low prices.  This will now allow us to really expand the baseball program in Uganda while working with the Ugandan Commissioner of Sports and the Peace Corps.

The one problem we now have is at our biggest Santa Claus of all, Pitch in For Baseball.  Without Pitch in for Baseball, Uganda Little League would have all kinds of headaches.  This Santa Clause packages all the gifts other people give to us.  The Wilson package being as large as it is, is now squeezing them for room.  As the Ugandan presents keep growing, it enables us to expand baseball into Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan and Rwanda, but Pitch in for Baseball is being choked for space to handle all this.  David Rhodes, Executive Director of Pitch in for Baseball and I will work on a solution.  I am sure we will find one shortly. 

November 2011:

Many good things are beginning to happen in January 2012.  The major item that has made the International Media is the Canadian Little League Team that the Uganda Little League Team was supposed to play in the opening round of the Little League World Series this past August is planning to come to Uganda on January 14 for a one week stay.  Under the guidance of Ms. Ruth Hoffman, money is being raised to send the team, coaches and parents, and a couple of celebrities, to Uganda.  There is an expectation that the game or games may actually be televised live back to North America.  We do know that this event is expected to be the concluding chapter in the documentary film that has been made that followed the 2010 Ugandan team to Poland.  Hopefully, sometime early in 2012, the film will be released and available for public viewing.

January 2012 will mark the beginning of our annual two week program of training coaches and players at the complex.  This year, there will be significant improvements from last January.  Dorm 1 will finally be looking like a completed building.  We will have the kitchen and eating area available when it was still under construction last year.  We have finished putting grass down on field 3 and will now have the first full size baseball field to play on in Uganda. 

Participants for the two week program:

50 to 60 boys ages 11-12 making up four teams for the first 6 days.  They will practice and play at least one game every day.

50 to 60 boys ages 13-15 making up four teams for the last 6 days.  They will practice and play at least one game every day.

Several players from Kenya may contribute to the teams at each age level.

Active coaches in Uganda and Kenya are invited to attend and will be participating in a detailed coaching clinic during the 2 weeks while actually coaching the teams playing each day.

Teachers from a school in Soroti and a girls school in Lira who will be trained to become baseball and softball coaches at their respective schools.

Peace Corp Volunteers who will assist in administering the programs in the Soroti and Lira Schools, and others who will help develop programs elsewhere in Uganda.

Several visitors from the U.S. who will be working on helping in raising money for equipment and building the school who want to help the kids in Uganda learn the great game of baseball and softball.

A major future event in Uganda is the starting of a baseball program at a Secondary School in Soroti and a softball program at a Secondary School in Lira.  It is expected that each school will start four teams playing a game every week at their respective schools when the new school year starts around Feb. 1, 2012.  These first 4 teams will be composed of Secondary 1 & 2 students.  They will be trained and coached by the teachers who will be coming to the January coaches clinic.  The Peace Corps has recruited volunteers that will oversee and administer the respective programs to make sure the new coaches are coaching properly and the leagues are being run properly.  If we have enough interest, the programs will be extended to 4 teams composed of Secondary 3 and 4 students, and possibly for 4 more teams of Secondary 5 and 6 students.  Uganda Little League will equip the schools, the government will supplement the teacher/coaches pay and aid in providing the playing fields.  These two programs will serve as a prototype for what the Ugandan Sports Commission hopes to accomplish starting in the school year 2013 and beyond.  As part of that program, the Sports Commissioner anticipates approximately 30 to 35 Secondary Schools playing only baseball and softball throughout the country.  Every May, National Championships will be held at the Little League Complex.   We will attempt to bring these schools into the Little League program where the National Winner will then be able to proceed onto the Little League Regional Tournaments every July.  These teams would compete in the 13-14 age group, the 15-16 and 17-18.  We expect in a couple of years to dominate these tournaments and to be frequent participants at the respective Little League World Series for boys and girls.  Once these schools are started, the program will expand down into the primary schools.

As part of the above program, getting baseball equipment into Uganda is now being worked on.  At the request of the Sports Commissioner, we will set up a shop that will sell baseball equipment.  At the current time, there is no place where a person can purchase baseball or softball equipment in Uganda, and possibly anywhere in East Africa.  We hope to have this shop stocked with merchandise by the middle of 2012.  At the Trade Show at the December  annual Winter Meetings in Dallas, Texas, we will be in touch with all the equipment manufacturers and vendors to make arrangements for getting the equipment into Uganda early in 2012.  We will keep you informed about when this shop is stocked and open for business.

One very good piece of news is that on October 22, 2011, the Uganda Baseball and Softball Federation officially came back in existence.  The new Chairman of the Federation is one of our own, Mr. George Makhobe.  Congratulations and we expect to have a very supportive program producing Ugandan teams to compete at future International World Cups and the Baseball Classic.

 


 

January 2012:


History is Made with Canadian Visit

January 2012 was a very significant month. The one thing that the world heard and read about was the visit of the Canadian Little League team from Vancouver, BC to Uganda. They arrived on the evening of January 14 and left Uganda on the evening of January 21. The New York Times, the Washington Times, the Toronto Newspapers and broadcasters covered this story, as did ESPN and Aljazira, amongst others. They came to play the game that was supposed to take place last August at the Little League World Series. The game was played on January 17 at the Uganda Little League complex with several hundred spectators. Certainly the largest crowd to ever watch a baseball game in Uganda in anyone's memory. Uganda won two to one, but that was in my mind incidental to the event. In my mind, the biggest significant event was that about 50 visitors came from Canada and not one was eaten by a lion when they go off the plane at Entebbe Airport. Why is this important? Because the Americans that make up the Saudi Arabian team, according to Little League International, claim that they will never play a game in Africa because it is too dangerous and that is why the Middle East/Africa Regional Tournament must always be played in Poland. The Canadians have destroyed that argument. How Little League International now justifies playing this tournament in Poland will be interesting to hear.
 

During the two weeks starting on January 7 and going thru January 20, the Little League complex hosted about 90 coaches, teachers who will become baseball or softball coaches, two teams of 11-12 year olds for the first week and two teams of 13-15 year olds the second week and a contingent of an additional 40 visitors from Kenya during the second week, in addition to about 25 girl coaches learning to pitch windmill as taught by three Peace Corps Volunteers. All the coaches were being taught the fine points of how to play the game with topics being covered such as the role of the first base and third base coaches, making line ups, evaluating players and positions, game strategy and when to hit and run or sacrifice. At the same time, all coaches were instructed on umpiring mechanics and techniques. The purpose of the teams playing the games was to give the coaches an opportunity to practice what they were being taught, including umpiring the games. Each day, classes were held from 9 to 10AM. Two hours of actually demonstration followed. At 2PM, games were played every day with the games being coached and umpired by the trainees. At 5PM, every coach was required to play in our daily softball games, with a number of the later games using the newly trained windmill pitchers. At 8PM, the 2011 World Series games were shown to point out the method of really playing the game and the mistakes that are made by umpires who were not asked to get help, and the problems of using all your players when the games go into extra innings. This World Series, with the comments made by the television commentators was a great training tool and we have to thank Major League Baseball for supplying us with the DVDs.
 

On January 11, the Uganda Sports Commissioner launched the governments Sports School program. While the program will establish 32 secondary schools as sport schools starting the 2013 school year, with the remaining 100 or so starting in future years, two schools will start this school year with softball in an all girls school and baseball in a boys school. Both schools involved sent teachers who will become coaches to our two week training program. We in turn equipped them with gloves, bats, helmets, catcher's equipment and balls to start a 4 team league of S1 and S2 students playing a game a week. Each school will have a Peace Corps volunteer assigned to supervise the league operation. We and the Uganda Sports Commissioner will use these two schools as prototypes which will help in getting Parliament to fully fund the program in future years with the goal that the program will produce student/athletes that will provide Uganda with competitive International teams in many sports. For baseball and softball, it will spread the game rapidly throughout the country and give thousands of ball players the opportunity to develop their skills in a highly competitive environment. In the words of Jimmy Rollins and Derek Lee, who visited during the Canadian teams visit, the ball players of Uganda have the natural fluid motions and the talent to be major league players.

 

February 27, 2012:

 

Significant Donation - Pocket Radar Company
Pocket Radar Company donates two pocket radar guns to Uganda Little League. This will greatly help the program to monitor the talent of our young players statistically that may open some eyes in the near future. The talent is here, but we need to give it the opportunity to let it flourish, and also be able to measure it. The Pocket Radar Company had donated a very valuable tool that will enable us to do this.


April 2012:

Great progress has been made in Uganda over the past month at all levels of baseball and softball. We will be hosting our annual Uganda Little League National tournaments this May. We will have 5 or 6 11-12 year old teams coming to play for the right to travel to Poland to play in the Middle East/Africa tournament which will be held during the middle of July. That will be followed by the 13-14 tournament. Both these will be preceded by the girls 11-12 program which we hope will have a competitive team traveling to their tournament in Italy. Getting visas to Italy will be a lot easier than getting the visas for Poland as the Italian Embassy is located in Kampala while the Polish Embassy is located in Kenya. For the first time, the boys program will have a team from Gulu and a chief umpire from Canada. Chuck has informed us that after his visit in January, he would like to return in May. He will now be a chief tournament umpire.

We really made history late in March. After our meeting with the Uganda Commissioner of Sports on one day followed by a meeting with the Uganda Country Director of the Peace Corps, a three way meeting was set for a Tuesday afternoon at the Commissioner's office. This is where I believe history was made. The mission of the Peace Corps in Uganda is to spread sport programs in the schools, which is exactly what the Commissioner's Sports School program intends to do, and a number of those schools will feature baseball and softball. What was agreed to at the meeting is that when the first 32 schools start in 2013, There will be six of those schools playing baseball and 4 playing softball. Each with at least a 4 team league playing a full schedule of games at the S1 and S2 level and slowly advancing to the S3 and S4 level and then to the S5 and S6 level over time. Starting in the April-May 2013 time period, each of these schools will come to the complex at government expense to play for the National Secondary School Championships. The Peace Corps will assign newly in country volunteers with a background in Physical Education training to these baseball/softball schools to teach the teachers to become coaches and oversee the programs at each school. The schools may also have as many as two Peace Corps volunteers to also assist in track, soccer, and basketball. The government will be supplying funds for these programs in terms of pay, equipment and facilities. The Peace Corps Volunteers will do their in country training at the Little League Complex in November.

In January, the schools will be sending the future baseball and softball teacher/coaches to the complex along with their designated Peace Corp Volunteers to be trained on playing, coaching and umpiring the game of baseball and softball. Between some of the other programs that want to join the Uganda Little League program, we expect that we will be housing about 100 future coaches for our two week January program. The Sports Commissioner's Secondary School program officially launches right after our two week training program, but working with him, we already have a softball school and a baseball school operating this year. When 2013 comes, those 32 schools will represent only 25% of the final number of Sport Schools. Thus, this will be a joint program of Little League Baseball, The Peace Corps and the Uganda Sports Commissioner to expand baseball and softball all over Uganda over the next couple of years.

Two other significant events happened in March. A College Baseball player from California came to Uganda in early March He is staying until late May in the Jinja area helping to train Little League Baseball and softball players in Jinja and Lugazi. In addition, a gentleman from Taiwan arrived about 2 weeks ago with the intention of staying for several years and using that time to develop baseball players. Working with the Commissioner, he will be working at one of the Sport Schools monitoring and training coaches and players on how to play baseball. Both of these travelers have come on their own at their own expense. We will do our best to make their time in Uganda a most rewarding experience. They will both be at the complex during our tournaments.


June 2012:

Last month, Uganda Little League held three tournaments. We hosted the girls 11-12 year old program early in May with seven teams participating. This was an unexpected tournament as our long term plan was to bring the 7 and 8 year olds we started playing with tennis balls last year into softball this year working on wind mill pitching. Our coaches indicated that they wanted to hold the 11-12 year old tournament because they have been training those girls also. Thus the tournament was held. We had hoped to send a team to play in the regional tournament that is scheduled for Italy from June 11-14, but once we found out that we had to pay for hotel rooms for the team and hire a bus to take us from the hotel to the fields every day, plus pay for our meals each day, we were reluctant to get involved. When it was determined that there was a conflict with the boys tournament scheduled for July 13-17, and some other complications came about in Uganda, it was decided not to send a team this year.

The boys 11-12 year old tournament was won by the Lugazi Little League. We have now made sure all the birth certificates are from the proper agency and the school records verify the birth dates. We are now in the process of obtaining the boys passports, which we should have in a couple of weeks, which at that time we will be able to apply for the Polish visas. We hope to obtain the latter without the complications we had last year. Little League International has been very helpful in assisting us on obtaining the U.S. visas should the team win in Poland. One problem that may present itself is that the Lugazi team is made up of entirely 11 year olds. They will work very hard to bring home a victory to Uganda. We do not anticipate any of the problems of false documents like last year as the problem has been cleansed from the system.
The 13-14 year old team that we had hoped to send to Atlanta Georgia did not happen. We were notified mid May that the airlines would not grant the free passage that was needed to get the team to Atlanta.

We have made significant progress with the Uganda Sports Commissioner in assisting him with his Sports Schools program. We will have at least 7 secondary schools playing games internally at the S1-S2 level this coming school year. The same will apply for at least 4 girls schools playing softball. Next May, they will be playing for a Government Sponsored National Title at the Little League Complex. In reality, these teams will really be 13-14 year olds and if we can work this out, maybe the Ugandan Government might sponsor their trips to the Little League Regional Tournaments for the respective age groups. The following year, they will expand to the S3-S4 level, etc. Each one of these schools will have a Peace Corps sports major volunteer to act as a supervisor, commissioner to make sure the programs are running properly. In conjunction with this program we have purchased over 900 gloves and 100 dozen baseballs that arrived in Uganda in March. Under the Commissioner's control, any government registered school will be allowed to purchase this equipment at cost. We expect to expand this equipment store significantly in future years.

RIGHT TO PLAY REFUSES TO SUPPORT UGANDA LITTLE LEAGUE PROGRAMS
In January of this year, the Canadian team that was supposed to play the Ugandan team at the Little League World Series came to Uganda to play that game. It generated much publicity and Right to Play used it to raise significant amounts of money, well over $130,000US. Some of that money was supposed to aid some of the travel costs teams encounter to get to tournaments. The estimate we were told was about $35,000. When our tournaments were held, the various leagues made a request for some form of support for their travel costs. We were told that not one penny would go to support any Uganda Little League Team. It had all gone to the adult teams in Uganda, nothing to the children in the Little League program. It is the Uganda Little League's opinion that all those generous people that supported this program last November and December were deceived into thinking it was going to somehow aid Uganda Little League. Right to Play has made it clear, nothing will go to support Uganda Little League in any way.

July 2012:

Uganda went to Kutno, Poland with a team of 11 year olds from the Mehta Little League in Lugazi to play in the Middle East/Africa Little League Regional Tournament.  After losing the first game to Saudi Arabia by a score of 2-1 on a two run home run in the top of the 6th inning, the team came back the next day to start their journey to the championship.  They beat Dubai by a score of 6-0, followed the next day, when they had to play two games, by beating Qatar by a score of 13-1 and Kuwait by a score of 8-0.  This brought them to the Championship game on July 16 against Kuwait who they beat 5-2 to qualify them for the Little League World Series.  The Mehta team scored 33 runs in five games while giving up only 5.  Very unusual for a team with a 4-1 won lost record. 

The team traveled back to Uganda after the tournament to get ready for their planned trip to the World Series.  They will be appearing at the U.S. Embassy on Tuesday morning, July 24, when they will be interviewed for their visas.  Their next game will be in Williamsport at the World Series against Panama.  That game is scheduled for 6PM on August 17.  It is our understanding that the game will be televised live around the world on ESPN.  Our only problem with that is that the game will be starting at 1AM in Uganda.

July is the month for Little League Regional Tournaments.  This year, Uganda will once again be sending a team to Kutno, Poland to play in the Middle East/Africa tournament that starts on July 13.  Each year, it gets more and more difficult to send teams to Europe, and this year was no different from that aspect, but it was different because we thought we might also be able to send a girls team to the 11-12 softball regional tournament.

As this is being composed on the afternoon of July 10 in New York, the Ugandan boys team is checking in at Entebbe Airport for their trip to Brussels and then on to Warsaw.  Their plane leaves Entebbe just before 11PM Uganda time and lands in Brussels at 6AM Brussels time.  Then, after sitting in the Brussels airport for 8 hours, they will take off for Warsaw and land there at a little after 5PM Warsaw time.  The only food that they will be able to have from the time they get off the plane in Brussels until they are on the bus that will take them to Kutno, will be bread that they will carry with them on the plane.

This team almost did not make it.  While our tournament was held in mid May, by the time passports are obtained and parent consent forms motorized, the visas that allowed them to get to Poland were only delivered to them 4 hours before they were to board the plane at Entebbe Airport.  Paul finally was given the visas by the Polish Embassy in Kenya at 3PM and then had to catch a plane to get him back to Uganda and the Entebbe Airport in time to meet the team who were hoping he would not be delayed.  Otherwise, no one was going.  To obtain the visas at this late time required the assistance of Beata, the Regional Little League Director.  Getting these visas and what went on before could fill a book.  All we can say is if the Regional Tournament was held in Uganda, no one would have to go through what we have to go through every year to get to Poland.

That brings us to the girls program.  Early in May, we put together a girls All Star team to represent Uganda in the Europe/Middle East/Africa Regional Tournament for girls 11-12.  We were getting set to send the team to Europe until we found out what was involved.  It seems that several years ago, and every year since, we have been asking why Uganda cannot host a Regional Tournament.  We were told that we do not have the facilities to house and feed the visiting teams.  Certainly Poland does, and does a wonderful job.  The Middle East is too hot in July and South Africa is to cold.  Uganda has perfect weather all year round.  So we built dormitories and eating areas.  We now have 16 team rooms and 16 coaches rooms and a place to cook and feed everyone, but we still do not get a Regional Tournament. 

The girls tournament is to be held in northern Italy.  I am sure a very nice location.  When we went to apply, the notice said that we would be able to stay in a hotel that we would have to pay for by the day.  We would also need to have a bus take us from our hotel to the fields and back every time we wanted to practice or play.  In addition, we would need to take care of our food requirements at our cost.  WOW.  We cannot host a tournament that we would be willing to house, feed and pick up and return teams to the Entebbe Airport where you pay your $50 and you get a visa upon checking in at border control once you get off the plane.  The teams would not be charged for housing or feeding during their entire stay.  What is wrong with Uganda?

There is no way that under the current circumstances that Uganda can ever send a team to Europe under the terms of what was required by the girls tournament.  We have informed Little League International that if that tournament was held in Poland under same conditions that the boys tournament is run, we would have sent a girls team.  We cannot support a program that basically supplies a ball field to play on only, and then have to come up with $35,000 to participate.

September 2012:

The Little League team from Uganda, representing the Mehta Little League team from Lugazi made history in August.  They became the first team from Africa to ever make it to the Little League World Series in its now 66 year history.  It was quite an event and a memorable trip for the 11 boys and the two African coaches and myself.  Due to travel problems, the team arrived at Newark Airport on Friday afternoon, August 10.  They were met by a reporter for BBC radio who interviewed several of the travelers at Newark Airport.  Everyone then boarded the bus for the 4 hour trip to Williamsport.  Arrival was after dark, but they were greeted by a large number of people and immediately taken to their dorm.  After dropping their luggage, they went to see the lighted stadiums where they would be playing one week later and were immediately set upon by people filming for ESPN. We were the first team to arrive at Williamsport with several others arriving the next afternoon and evening.  By August 14, all 16 teams had arrived.

The Williamsport fields are beautiful and smooth as carpets. We started preparing for the tournament the next day at 6:30AM at the batting cages.  Each team is assigned two uncles. The two assigned to us were wonderful.  They met us everyday we were there at 6AM to assist in carrying balls and anything else down to the batting cages.  No one else was ever up at that time, and with the help of our early arriving uncles each morning, we would schedule our 1.5 hour practice sessions before anyone else and thus each day, we would have two field sessions and two batting cage sessions for about 6 hours of practice daily.  While we could only schedule one batting cage session each day, the 6:30AM session never counted since no one was expected to be using that time slot.

Food became a problem.  In Ugandan culture, if food is available, you eat a lot because you do not know how much will be at your next meal.  In Williamsport, food is always available.  All kinds of food and as much as you want.  The Ugandans like to eat bread, potatoes and rice.  The team was eating lots of it at breakfast, lunch and diner including other items that they were learning about, such as fried eggs, bacon, sausage, french toast, pancakes and fruit for each breakfast.  My concern was that they were eating so much starch, by the time one week would go by, I would need a crane to get them from home to first base.  But how can you stop kids from eating.  Eventually, they did slow down on the bread and potatoes and began to eat salads, soups and lots of ice cream.  The cooks fell in love with them and did many wonderful things for them.

Other than our 6:30AM practices, the team could not walk anywhere near the stadiums without being constantly stopped with requests to sign baseballs, shirts, jackets, paper and to let them have their pictures taken with other adults and children, or just the teammates together.  This went on from Sunday, August 12 thru the Championship game on August 26.  If we were scheduled to practice on a field, we would have to take a round about route to avoid the people, but still we would be constantly stopped.  It was not fun when we would have to tell the adults and kids that we could not sign now because we had to get to a certain place by a certain time, be it to a game, an award ceremony or for television.  The souvenir hats and shirts, supposedly 3,000 each, were sold out in one day.  The only team to sell out over the entire week plus.

On Wednesday, August 15, there was a parade through the main streets of Williamsport.  Two teams were assigned to a flat bed trailer truck for a total of eight trucks.  The parade must have covered a mile and the line of march must have been close to one mile long.  Even though it rained at the start of the parade, the streets were lined with thousands of people as we passed.  They were throwing all kinds of candy onto the truck.  The front page of the local newspaper had a full length color picture of the Uganda team with the head line "They finally made it."  On Sunday, August 19, they were treated to a low level minor league baseball game and given royal treatment.  Here they saw the level of play they would need to obtain if they were ever to dream of playing professionally.  One day the following week, a group of restaurants treated them to a special diner at a very fancy Williamsport restaurant. 

On Saturday, August 26, the spent the day at an amusement park, riding roller coasters, log flumes, visiting haunted houses and other amusements courtesy of a local Pennsylvania group working on building a school in Uganda where they want us to teach the students to play baseball and softball.  After the tournament, on August 27, they went to Trenton, N.J. to play the West Windsor Little League team, but it got rained out, but both teams went to see the Trenton Thunder game that evening with a tour of the inner workings of the stadium.  This was followed the next day with a Little League game just north of Philadelphia with about 1500 spectators watching, followed with a trip to see the Philadelphia-New York Met game that evening.  They were allowed on the field, taken through the locker rooms, the weight room, the trainers room, the players meal room and given shirts, hats and other things.  The 45,000 fans in the stands periodically cheering "Uganda, Uganda" during the game and when they appeared on the field with the Phillie Fanatic between innings.  Once again, lots of food and requests for autographs and pictures.  This was followed by a trip to New York and Yankee Stadium for a repeat of what happened in Philadelphia.  Thursday saw a visit to Major League Baseball offices for more autographs and more shirts and other items.  The Uganda UN mission then took everyone onto the floor of the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly, after which they had to get to the airport.

The media coverage was something else.  From BBC radio at their Newark arrival to BBC television doing a piece on the team, CNN devoting a full half hour of their Africa program to the team, to Alajazeera doing several programs covering the preparations to the first game, covering Africa's first hit, run scored, and home run on another program, and their trip to Yankee Stadium and the UN.  Every newspaper in New York, Philadelphia, and NPR radio network did extensive coverage of their travels.  Obviously, ESPN broadcast all around the world three of their games from Williamsport, including their receiving the Sportsmanship Award for the World Series.

What is next?  We will be meeting with various groups that want to expand baseball in Africa. We expect to have meetings with Major League Baseball and Little League Baseball regarding the future of baseball in Uganda and beyond.  This will start the week of September 10.  Uganda will be sending it's new UN Ambassador to New York shortly and we have been invited to meet with him along with one or two other people to let him know where we are with the Uganda Sports Commissioner's program of sports school playing baseball and softball.  Many people have approached us about donating equipment to the program through Pitch in for Baseball which we hope comes true.  We will also be talking about building the school to start at the S1 level for 50 students when the 2013 school year begins.  We already have a commitment to build the primary school at the complex from the group in Pennsylvania.  We really do expect to produce some outstanding competitive baseball and softball teams in Uganda over the next couple of years.  A number of major league players have expressed their desire to come to Uganda to help train coaches, players and umpires on playing the game of baseball during the January period.

Lots of things will be happening over the next couple of months.  We will once again try and keep you updated periodically.

October 2012:  MORE EXCITING THINGS IN UGANDA

The last two weeks have seen some great developments continue to take place in regard to Little League Baseball and Softball.  During June, the former Ugandan Commissioner of Sports reached the retirement age and had to give up his position.  On October 12, he came to the Little League complex to sit down and talk about the Sport School program in the secondary schools.  He informed us that he is now committed to make sure the two secondary schools in Mbarara scheduled to start this coming school year would start up and become a success story for baseball and softball.  He lives in that area, and even though he is technically retired, he is going to make sure they run right.  In addition, he expects to get several primary schools started with Little League so that they will feed into the secondary school programs.  This is now his mission.  The main purpose of his visit was to get information on dimensions of the Little League/softball fields for the primary schools and the full size field for the secondary school.  He will make a great addition to our program in the western area of Uganda. 

The acting Uganda Commissioner of Sports, Mr. Omara Apitta Lamex, has been a very good friend of Uganda Little League for many years now.  He comes from Lira, the north of Uganda, and has been instrumental in starting Little League baseball in several primary schools in Lira a few years ago.  We sat down with him as a follow up with the sport school program and the 10 schools that will start with baseball and softball in the new school year.  He assures us that at least 4 teachers from each school will be coming to our two week January training program for new and experienced coaches.  We reviewed the price lists and the procedures that the schools will be able to obtain baseball equipment and went over with him the meeting we had with the leadership of the Peace Corps regarding how the volunteers will be working with the schools to monitor and assist the baseball and softball programs.  It appears everything is in place with the Peace Corps and the Sports Commissioner's office to make sure baseball is being played in at least 6 secondary schools and softball in 4 others with proper supervision after the two week teacher/coaches training program takes place in early January.

 One other item we discussed with Mr. Omara concerned the results of our meeting with the Japanese Embassy.  It seems that Japan wants to donate an excellent Little League/softball field to Uganda.  They came to Little League for helpful advice and who they should be dealing with, since they wanted to make sure it was used by the public and maintained properly once Japan built it.  Maintaining a facility is a real problem in Uganda, but if a school is involved, it can be done.  With the sport school program supposedly containing money to maintain sport facilities, the best person to work with the Japanese Embassy on this project is the Ugandan Sport Commissioner.  Mr. Omara will be talking to the Embassy and the Embassy is eagerly awaiting to hear from him with the help to solve their dilemma.

 THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL AT THE LITTLE LEAGUE COMPLEX

The real big accomplishment over the past two weeks has been the actual start up of the International School for Math and Science for the Athletically Talented.  The athletic talent is very prevalent in Uganda.  Getting programs that will fully develop these talents is very difficult.  For several years, it has been the plan to start our own school that would concentrate on developing these talents, especially in the area of baseball/softball, while also training the students in soccer, basketball and track.  We have officially started on our way.  The school will recruit the best math students with athletic talent.  It will be an International School because then we do not have to teach religion, or a number of other subjects.  We can concentrate on English, History/Geography, Math thru calculus, and every science subject taught in the U.S. with the idea that every student will be able to be accepted into any university in the U.S. and the world.  Our hope is to get them good enough for academic scholarships and athletic scholarships.  We will start the first S1 class of 25 boys and 25 girls this coming school year.  There will be no charges for tuition or room and board.  We have now hired the Head Teacher, the Math Teacher and Science Teacher, the school nurse, 4 men coaches and at least 2 girl coaches.  We are looking for a good young English teacher as this is written.  The students will start classes at 7:30 each morning and finish by lunch time.  At 2PM, they will be drilling and playing competitive games.  This first class will have the boys broken into two teams to compete against each other, as will the girls.  There will be incentives to motivate the teams to win as many games as they can over the course of the year.  In 2014, we will add another class, as we will each year until the school reaches its proper student level.

Starting now, we are getting the word out about this school.  We will host regional tryouts around Uganda in mid December.  We are looking for top students, especially in math, and then we will conduct physical testing to determine athletic talent.  We have many people who want to assist us in these determinations.  We expect to measure running speed, agility, throwing strength and ability to flied and catch.  We expect to have hundreds of applicants, but we want to select the best so that they become the best academically and athletically. 

The last thing we need to mention is the work that the Mehta group is doing in Lugazi.  Good to the company's word, the Little League field has been laid out and they are now waiting for the grass to grow.  It was suggested to them that they should go to the greens keeper at the company golf course to oversee the growing of the infield and outfield grass, and then have him oversee the maintenance of the grass.  We were told that the company is trying to locate a place for the full size field that they intend to construct.  In the meantime, teams are now playing on all grass fields that are shared with other sports.  Supposedly, only baseball players will be allowed on the Little League/softball field and the full size baseball field.  A new little league field has been installed in Gulu and the field that will be a gift from Japan will mean at least 3 new proper Little League fields will be built since the Uganda Little League tournament this past May. 

December 2012:

The winter meetings of professional baseball have ended this week in Nashville. Uganda Little League programs are well known and are being closely followed by several Major League Teams and by the MLB office. The Little League team that won the US title at the 2012 World Series is planning to come to Uganda late in December. They come from Nashville and I had the opportunity to meet with them for several hours. They held a fund raiser to help pay for their trip. Mr. Tommy Lasorda of the LA Dodgers was kind enough to donate $5,000 last Saturday. He has become an ambassador for their program. I had the opportunity to meet him at the Dodger reception to thank him for his efforts. It was a big event, and I am now going to be reporting our statistics of the school athletes every few months as they grow and progress to the LA Dodger's head of scouting. This is the first step in spreading the word that Uganda can and will produce talented baseball and softball players. The Detroit Tigers are also interested in our school program and the abilities of our athletes, as are several other Major League Teams. But our most important school goal is getting our students academic and baseball athletic scholarships to the Black US Universities in the next 5 years or so. Should they become professional baseball players, that would be nice, but more important is getting them an engineering or scientific degree that will support them well into the future.

In regard to the school, we now have in place our full faculty and staff for the start of the 2013 school year. They will all be reporting to the Little League Complex at the start of January. Starting early in December, we will begin our journey around Uganda holding athletic tryouts and checking on the math abilities of the students that have been recommended to us by their primary schools. The only thing these students will need to bring to the school will be a pair of shoes. Everything else will be provided for them at no charge to them. The prize at the end of the rainbow is the full four year scholarship to attend a university in the U.S. To get there, they need to work hard at developing their academic and athletic skills. We want everyone we take into the program to obtain the full scholarship, but that can only be done by continuous hard work. We already have contacts with the Black Colleges in the U.S. and they are eagerly waiting for our results.

This school project has resulted in several visitors coming to Uganda. A Senior Vice President of Major League Baseball is expected to visit Uganda in March 2013. A group of other visitors are also coming in March. This group is looking to help fund the school, possibly enlarge it, and brings representation of several Black Universities to Uganda. They very much want to meet several of the people involved in operating the school. That is the primary reason for their visit.
Starting January 5, 2013, we expect to possibly have as many as 100 teachers and coaches who are coming to the complex to learn to coach baseball and softball teams in their school programs. We expect at least four from each of the 10 secondary schools that will be starting leagues at their schools for S1 and S2 students. This is in conjunction with the Uganda Commissioner of Sports "Sport Schools" program. We also will have many teachers coming from a number of primary schools from the north, the west and east, besides Kampala. The program will run for two weeks. We will only allow those who have registered with Paul by mid December to attend. The first week will concentrate on players 11-12. The second week will be on the full size baseball field for older players. We expect four Little League umpires from the U.S. and Canada to also be coming to help out, besides several other Americans and known Ugandan coaches.

Pitch in for Baseball

On or about December 1, a 20 foot container left the U.S. on its way to Uganda. The boat will take about six weeks to get to East Africa and then another week or two to get to the Little League Complex. It is like a Christmas Present to Uganda Little League Baseball from our many friends we have made in the U.S. Our very good friends at Pitch in for Baseball spent many hours on assembling all the equipment that has been donated from Little Leagues around the country and from Wilson Sporting goods, Dick's Sport Stores, Major League Baseball and many others. All this is coming to expand and develop the baseball program thru Uganda Little League. We thank everyone who donated anything to Uganda Little League. But we have to extend a very big thank you to Pitch in for Baseball. They have spent months collecting everything, sorting it, evaluating, packing and dealing with the shipping company. When the container was delivered to their dock on November 26, it stood one foot above their loading dock and thus, the gaylords that everything was packed into and stacked double high could not get into the container. It was decided to get a standard truck to the dock, move the container to a transloading facility with the gaylords and have the container stuffed there, and then taken to the boat. The container was finally moved on Thursday morning, November 29, but the truck did not arrive at Pitch in for Baseball until 7PM that evening. The filled container finally made it to the dock by Friday afternoon, just in time to make the boat. Thank you Pitch in for Baseball for all the time and effort put into getting this donated equipment on its way.

February 2013 

 The new year has started with very significant events in January.  The two week clinic for 100 coaches and teachers who want to be coaches of baseball and softball was held starting on January 5.  The schedule for this Mays National Championship Little League Tournaments were announced.  The secondary school's first day of classes was January 28th for 50 students.  The Peace Corps people came out to the complex to talk about the future and we had a very nice meeting with  the U.S. Ambassador, Mr. Scott Delisi.  We are now preparing for March when even more significant things are expected.

Two week Clinic: 

On Saturday evening, January 5, the influx of coaches and teachers who want to be coaches began to arrive at the complex.  We held the number down to 100 and 24 boys who would be playing a Little League baseball game each afternoon for the next six days.  The following week would see these players replaced by 24 others who would play a game every day for the last six days of the clinic.  Because of the large number of trainees, they were broken up into four teams for the entire two weeks.  The program started everyday from 9 to 10 with class room demonstrations and lectures.  At 10AM, the four teams followed their instructors for on field demonstrations and participation.  On several days, these demonstrations led to inter team contests and competitions on what they had learned.  The teams were very competitive.  Lunch was from 12:15 to 2PM, after which everyone went to observe the games being played by the Little Leaguers.  After the first day, each team had to supply a trainee to umpire the games.  Two umpires did the first 3 innings and two more did the second 3 innings.  Meanwhile their team mates were observing the umpire mechanics and the coaching mechanics as they were watching the games with their instructors.  The umpires had their instructors right next to them as they were umpiring the game to point out their good moves and their moves that were not so good.  At 4:45 every day, a game was played on each of the two fields using tennis balls, slow pitch and no gloves.  Again, each team had to supply umpires for these games for three innings.  The games were 9 innings long, thus each team needed three umpires per game.  Team 4 was undefeated during the first week of games and team 3 won the second week title.  On the last day, team 4 won the championship game by one run with a question about how fair was the umpiring when a controversial close call was made at 3rd base in the last inning that benefited team 4.  After diner, game videos were shown from 7:30 till the end of the games.  We started with the three games Uganda played at the Little League World Series and then went to the 7 game World Series of 2011 between the Cardinals and Rangers.  This World Series had everything in it.  From key errors, big stolen bases, pick offs, an umpire missing a tag on a runner going to first base, and great shots of 3rd base coaches doing what they were supposed to do to send runners or hold them up at key times.

The clinic was successful because of the help from Little League umpires who came from North America.  Ed from Vancouver on his second trip to Uganda, Chris from Pennsylvania and Daniel from New York.  Chuck, from Ontario, who had been to Uganda twice already was prevented from coming by his employer.  Harry, from New Jersey. also joined us for his second visit to Uganda as did Jennifer and her boy friend who came to see what the Uganda Little League Complex was about.  All stayed in the guest house.  On the last Thursday evening, a big party was held with the food being topped by goat meat and dancing to a disco DJ until midnight. 

The annual meeting of the Uganda Little League Directors established the tournament dates for this May.  The boys 11-12 year old tournament will have its first game played the morning of May 10.  The girls 11-12s will have their first game played the morning of May 15, and the boys 13-15 will have their first game played the morning of May 20.  We expect at least 4 volunteer Little League umpires to be joining us on or about May 7 to umpire the three tournaments.  They are all members of the Little League World Series Umpire Alumni Group.  Anyone interested in taking part in these tournaments must have their team rosters, the teams schedule of at least 12 games with the dates, location and time of these games to Paul for the boys and to Allen for the girls no later than February 20 in order to be chartered as Little League teams.

School: 

On Friday, January 25, the students began to report to the school to begin the new school year.  The Teachers, Head Master, Coaches and Directors were all there to great the 25 boys and 25 girls and their parents or guardians.  These are some of the best math students and athletes in the country.  No tuition or room and board is to be charged.  Uniforms are supplied and we expect these students to become the best educated and produce the best teams in baseball, softball, football (soccer), basketball and running amongst the secondary schools of Uganda.  Classes began on Monday, January 28.  The school is specializing in Math and Science with a very strong emphasis on English and History/Geography.  This is only a first year class in Secondary School as we want every student to be ready for Algebra starting next year and Calculus during the sixth year if we do not get them scholarships to U.S. Universities after 5 years.  Our goal is get every student a 4 year scholarship to a U.S. University to major in Engineering or Science.  We expect to do this with a half scholarship for academic achievement and a half for athletic achievement.

U.S.  Ambassador Scott Delisi was kind enough to allow us to pay him a visit at the U.S. Embassy.  After our discussion of what we were doing at the complex, he wanted to know if Uganda was going to be going back to the Little League World Series.  We told him we will be doing our best.  He promised to come and visit the complex in March when we expect the team from Nashville Tenn. to visit us and possibly a visitor from Major League Baseball and a group from Indianapolis, Indiana.  The middle two weeks in March is expected to be a very busy time for us and possibly a very important time, as it is possible the we may also get a visitor from Little League International joining us. 

April 2013

Progress is being made at the school and in developing baseball in Uganda.  The Allen VR Stanley Secondary School of Math and Science for the Athletically Talented has now finished its' ninth week of operation.  The 25 boys and 25 girls are developing academically and athletically.  Classes are running longer than the anticipated schedule as they now start at 7AM and end at 12:30PM Monday thru Friday.  So far, the boys have played about 50 baseball games and 35 soccer games.  The girls have played the same number of soccer games and about 50 softball games.  The time playing games is less than the time they spend on practice and drills for both sports.

On March 30, the school was invited to participate in a race in Kampala.  The race was for 14 years of age and under.  We intended to enter 5 boys and 5 girls, but only 3 girls wished to run.  A bus brought the entire school to Kampala to support the runners.  Our runners finished First, Second and Third.  Our goal is to be the best and this shows that we are getting there. 

Three weeks ago, we played a school in soccer, in Uganda it is called football.  We only won by 1-0.  We played the same school two weeks later and dominated the game, but only won 3-0.  If we play them again, our goal is to win 6-0.  Remember, none of these boys were soccer players before they came to this school.

Academically, we are working on getting each student a tablet where every book they need over the next six years in science, math, history and literature can be stored on the tablet and read at any time.  Our problem is getting tablets into Africa.  Because of the technology, Amazon and Apple will not talk to us because we want to ship a tablet for each student to Africa.  The way they make money here in the U.S. evidently does not work in Africa and thus are not interested in us purchasing 50 tablets each year.  We will solve this problem, and already have the books we need available to us through the CK12 Foundation.

Starting May 10, the Little League National Tournament will be held for boys 11-12 years of age.  We believe that we have an excellent chance of winning as the team now has three pitchers that throw at 70  miles per hour and three others that throw in the mid 60s.  We are using 4 pitchers every game we play and thus, since we play 6 games per week, three on weekends, we use 12 pitchers every weekend.  Unfortunately, the championship will be decided by one game to be played the morning of May 14.  Following the boys, the girls 11-12 will be playing their tournament starting the morning of May 15.  We have 8 girl teams coming to play for the title.  Their championship will be played on the 19th, followed by the boys 13-14 year old boys.  Our girl teams are just learning the game and we are looking to develop at least 3 or more windmill pitchers that can throw strikes.  Once again, none of the girls played the game before coming to the complex.  While we will send the boys team to Kutno, Poland in July, we do not have the money for the girls to travel to Italy.  If Little League moves the girls tournament to Poland, we will definitely send a team next year.  The problem with Italy, we have to pay for our own hotel rooms, food and bus to take us to the field to play one game per day for four days.  There is no opportunity to practice at fielding or hitting, other than to just play one game per day and sit in the hotel rooms the rest of the days.  It is totally different in Poland.

In other baseball developments, we have clarified the situation with the government sports schools.  The government is evidently not going to supply money for the sport schools to purchase equipment.  Thus we have entered into an agreement with the Uganda Sports Commissioner that we will make every effort to equip 5 secondary schools with equipment to have each school get at least 4 teams at the S1 and S2 level playing, 4 more teams at the S3 and S4 level playing in a year or two, and 4 more teams at the S5 and S6 level playing,   They will become members of Little League and the complex will host annual championship tournaments every May for boys and girls.  The Sports Commissioner will send at least 4 coaches from each of the schools to the complex to be trained in baseball playing, coaching and umpiring.  The winners of the tournaments will be eligible to move on to the Little League Regional Tournaments currently being played in Europe.  The Commissioner believes he will be able to get corporate sponsors to cover the cost to get them to Europe.  All these schools will be fed by existing Little League programs where there are already trained coaches running the programs.  Each of these schools will also have Peace Corps Volunteers able to oversee their programs and assist in running them.  The goal is to produce many excellent baseball and softball players to export to the U.S. and other countries.

The Japanese have donated a significant amount of money to build a very nice full size baseball facility just north of Kampala.  It should be finished in less than a year.  This will make at least 4 baseball fields with grass around the country in addition to the five we currently have at the Little League complex.  Three of these four are Little League fields, all built in the last 12 months. 

While the visitors that we thought were coming in March did not come for various reasons, we now expect a significant number of visitors to be coming in May.  People from Indiana in regard to our school program are now planning on coming late in May.  They may number as many as 8 to 10 people.  Ms. Wendy Lewis, of Major League Baseball,  will now plan on coming in January of next year.  We have several other people coming over the summer who will be joining the baseball program in Lira and in other parts of Uganda.   It has been indicated to us several weeks ago that Dan Velte of Little League International may be traveling to Uganda to see our tournaments.  We do know that we expect at least 4 or more umpires from the Little League World Series Umpire Alumni Association to be joining us to umpire our three tournaments this May.  


June 2013:

Two tournaments were held at the Little League complex in May.  One was for boys 11-12 and one for girls 11-12.

The boys had 6 teams come to the complex on the afternoon of May 9.  Gulu and Soroti had the longest and most expensive trips to get to the complex.  Both require 10 hours in a bus at a cost of about $350 each way.  The other teams managed to come for a cost of about $50 each way.  All these costs were covered by Uganda Little League.  The tournament was a double loss and you were eliminated.  Three games were played on May 10 starting at 10AM, 1:30PM and 4PM.  Kyambogo at one time was considered to have the best baseball program in Uganda.  They were eliminated  by the second game they played on May 11, as was the Luwero team.  Soroti fell next and Gulu eliminated Lugazi on May 13.  The championship game was played on May 14 between Gulu, who only started play last April and the Allen VR Stanley school.  Gulu was most impressive as they hit and scored, something that no other team was able to do against the eventually champion. 

On the afternoon of May 14, after all the boys had left, nine girl teams arrived for their double loss elimination tournament that started with 5 games each day on May 15 and 16.  Three teams were eliminated by the end of the second day of play.  Eventually, it got down to 4 teams playing in the semifinals on May 18.   The Allen VR Stanley school lost to the Kitebi school team, and Soroti beat the Kisugu Primary School team in two close games.  The final was a classic game between Kitebi and Soroti.  It went down to the bottom of the last inning that started with Kitebi leading by three runs, 5-2.  Soroti scored 4 runs in the bottom of the 6th inning to win the game and became the champions of the girls tournament with all the jumping, hat throwing and sliding of a champion celebration.

Containers:

Late in January, the container from Pitch in for Baseball arrived in Kampala.  The process to get it cleared though many ministries began around mid-January.  After many meetings, people promises, and other things, the container finally arrived at the complex on May 20.  Needless to say, it involved a lot of money for 4 months of storage charges, taxes and other fees, but with all the things in the container, it was well worth the wait.  We immediately set up the two batting cages that were in the container and then began to find places to store the many bats, balls, catchers equipment, gloves and helmets so we could have access to the many other items in the container, such as uniforms, shoes, and bags.  Please do not forget that the container also contained many books and magazines for the school library which were immediately put to use.  There is no way that we can express our great thanks to all the people who donated equipment to the Uganda Little League.  We can now have many teams playing baseball and softball all over Uganda.  What we need to do now is to get the coaches and schools playing who are serious and want to produce competitive teams to compete in our national tournaments each year, all the way up to age 18.  We have plenty of schools and so call coaches who want the equipment but have no intention of using it.  We already know too many of those.

The second container contained a farm tractor with mowers, plows, hole driller, and bushwhacker.  That container arrived in Kampala on April 24.  Since it was farm equipment, there was not supposed to be any taxes or tariffs on this equipment and was supposed to clear customs easily and quickly.  It finally arrived on June 4.  Once again, many sign offs were required.  If 6 full weeks is quick, maybe it is compared to 5 months.  It is there now, and it will be used to cut and roll our fields and also to cut the bushes, plow the ground so we can plant various crops to feed the school.  It will also be used to teach modern farm methods to our students and also enable the movement of piles of soil from one place to another.

The School:

The first of our trimesters ended on April 22.  The second trimester started on May 22.  We managed to bring 54 Samsung tablets over to Uganda in my checked baggage early in May.  Each of our 51 students now has a Galaxy 7" tablet along with the English, Math and Science teachers. 

On each tablet is a book from CK-12 Foundation for English composition writing, all the Shakespearean plays and other writings, a 900 page Physical Science book and a pre-algebra text book. 

We also now have an extensive library that consists of over 120 National Geographic Magazines, many books from Time Life covering many countries and regions and many other advanced science and math text books besides many novels and short stores for the students to read.

We have begun to recruit students for next year's class of 50 top athletes with excellent Math and Science credentials.  We have recruiters in the northeast, north, east, west and central areas looking for the best athletes based upon running speed and agility.  We do not care what sport they currently play, but we need 25 boys and 25 girls.  Our biggest problem is filtering the best from all those that want to come to the school because we do not charge tuition or room or board.  We know we will be offered bribes to take certain students and we cannot do that.  We need to find the best athletes who are excellent math and science students who want to become the best in everything they do through hard work and maximum effort.  Our school classes start at 7:10AM and end at 12:30PM when we break for lunch.  Then from 2PM to 5:30PM, it is time for sports.  Baseball Soccer, running and Basketball.  The boys and girls have already played about 90 baseball and softball games and about 50 or more soccer games since the last week in January to the first week in June.  I believe that we have the best conditioned 12 year old students in East Africa, if not all of Africa.

July 2013

Little League International rescinds tournament invitation at last minute.  No Ugandan team will be playing in any Little League tournament this year, or maybe even next year unless something is changed.

On the afternoon of June 20, Uganda Little League was told that the Champion of the May National Tournament would not be allowed to attend the European/Africa Regional Tournament in Kutno, Poland that required the team to be in Poland on July 12. At the time, a Uganda Little League director and the two coaches expecting to accompany the team to Poland were in Nairobi, Kenya submitting the required documents to obtain the EU visas that would allow them to leave Uganda on the night of July 9 that would get them to Poland on the afternoon of July 10, giving them two days to get ready for the tournament to start. The invitation letter from Little League Poland was in each visa application, along with about 1100 dollars in euros in visa fees, 1200 dollars of medical insurance forms for the two week stay, notarized by a lawyer parent permission forms allowing the children to travel at $50 each, and the plane reservations since the visas are only good for the day you arrive and the day you leave. Obviously, each person going had to have a visa which under normal processing time takes 2 to 6 weeks to obtain. In addition, Little League requires us to obtain a letter from each primary school that the player entered first grade indicating their date of birth according to the schools records to make sure it agrees with the passport and birth certificate dates. This is one reason why we hold our National Tournaments in early to mid May.

What Happened? Starting on May 10, we held our National tournament, a double loss tournament with 6 leagues participating, with the championship game played on the morning of May 15. The Allen VR Stanley Secondary School of Math and Science won the tournament and the names of the players and coaches were sent to Poland and Williamsport that day so the process of obtaining the required documents could begin. Several players needed passports which require the parents and child to come to the Passport Office in Kampala to apply with a normal wait time of 2 to 6 weeks. We then began to look for airlines with good fares and connections to get the team to Warsaw Poland on the dates needed. Several days later, Little League International comes back to us and notices that several players on the Allen VR school team played for Lugazi last year. That may be a problem. Discussions took place regarding Little League rules and why this might be a problem. These went on for a couple of weeks. I was told that I would get an answer no later than the week ending on June 14. On June 16, I booked a non refundable trip on KLM to Warsaw where I would meet the team in Amsterdam and fly on the same plane as they would to Warsaw to make sure they encountered no "Child Trafficking" problems when they boarded the flight to Warsaw, which has happened in the past. Then came the cancellation of the invitation by the Little League International Tournament Committee on June 20.

The problem is that 5 kids played for Lugazi last year and went to Williamsport and are now playing for a different Little League. That may be fine for the U.S. and most of the rest of the world, but it is not fine for Uganda. If these 5 players had never gone to Williamsport last year, there would have been no problem and the team would be planning to travel to Poland today hoping to obtain their Polish visas in the next two weeks. In Uganda, all our Little Leagues are school based as that is where the players are, the teachers that usually wind up as coaches, and the fields are. There are government schools and private for profit schools where most are boarding schools. The Allen VR School is a new specializing school that require all students to stay at the school from the first day of each semester to the last day of each semester. Every school requires school fees for uniforms, books and lunches. If you do not have these fees, you sit home in government schools and private schools and you return when you or your guardians have the money. Everyone wants their children out of the government schools into private schools if they can come up with the required money. Most private schools charge about $1000 to as high as $2500 per year for tuition, room and board depending upon their reputation. If you are a worker for a foreign government or company where you do not have to come up with the money, those two or three schools charge $20,000 per year just for tuition.

All children finish primary school after the 7th grade and take national tests that are used by the private schools as one means of selecting their students. When the school year ends in December, these children are usually 11 and 12 years old and thus have the next year to continue in Little League baseball as 11-12 year olds. If they played Little League baseball at their primary school and want to attend the few secondary schools that offer them the chance to play organized baseball, they will try to be admitted to one of these schools. When they do this, under Little League International rules, they will not be allowed to play in Little League tournaments unless the school is where they went to primary school. If they want to play in Little League tournaments as a 12 year old, they cannot attend a private boarding school, or they can sit home and not go to school at all. Nice choice.

The sad irony is that children are constantly on the move all over Uganda going from school to school. There are no school districts in Uganda. It is one district and any student can go to any school they can afford. Afford is the key word. Children school fees are paid by mothers, if they are present and have the money, grandmothers, aunts, cousins, relatives in the UK or the US or in some cases people like me. They live and go to school wherever the paying person tells them, not necessarily with the mother. Fathers in Uganda feel little or no responsibility for paying for the children's school fees. That is the role of women. Our softball director is currently paying school fees for 6 students. Only one is a sister, the others are cousins or not related. She is in her 20s and when her mother died as a little girl, her grandmother paid her school fees and an aunt from the UK paid later years. Her education stopped when the UK money ended and no one picked up. Two of her students will enter universities this coming year and the others are in secondary school. None live with their mother. Why is she doing this, because she can and feels obligated by her culture. She has been doing this now for several years. I also have helped pay for about 6 different people at various times.

We have been playing Little League Baseball in Uganda since 2004. This movement of players has been and will continue to go on in Uganda. Little League International only brought this up because the names of 5 players in boarding schools came to Williamsport last year and are all attending boarding schools this year that prevents them from playing in Lugazi. What a shame that they made the decision to attend a better school, a boarding school, instead of playing for a team that might have had the chance to go to the World Series in 2013. Instead they prevented 6 other ball players from going that may have come from other Little League teams that the Little League International Tournament Committee did not know about, but would have allowed to play in tournaments. This is what is going to happen with girls 11-12 year olds.

Our girls tournament hosted 9 leagues in which we know that at least 5 are primary schools with no secondary school playing softball anywhere near them. If they transfer to a secondary school playing Little League baseball, will Little League International ban them from playing in tournaments when they are expected to apply next year? If so, then Little League International is eliminating African countries from developing baseball in the Little League program and forcing them to organize as one league which will be the only league in the country. Then no one moves from league to league and hardly anyone plays. But Little League will still be able to claim they have another African Country playing Little League Baseball.

August thru September 2013

The Little League World Series is going on without the participation by Uganda. Since children frequently change locations when going from Primary school to Secondary school and Uganda Little League is school based. Uganda has been prevented from participating in Little League Tournament play. All our Little Leagues are school based, and when they change schools, they change leagues. Evidently, this violates Little League rules unless Little League International grants each child permission to relocate. Ugandan children will continue to relocate without Little League permission and thus there is the possibility that Uganda may never play again in Little League Baseball.

Despite this problem, Uganda Little League will continue to develop the baseball and softball programs in Uganda. During the past few months, we have continued to make significant strides in developing the athletic talent that is so prevalent in Uganda. What is really significant is the programs and how they are being run, which is making Uganda the center for African Baseball and softball, and certainly the biggest Little League program in all of Africa. We would love to host an All Africa Little League Regional Tournament with the winner going to the Little League World Series, but Little League International continues to deny African Little League this opportunity.

In July and August, the city of Lira is hosting eight very experienced and talented baseball players. At least seven from the U.S. Three of them just finished the NCAA season this past May, with two from the University of San Francisco that lost in the Super Regionals of the NCAA Championships. Others were graduate students experienced in playing baseball and softball. Their mission is to develop the Little League program in Lira starting with the 5 and 6 year olds through the 12 year olds and have them compete in the Uganda National tournament which will be held in May of next year at the Little League complex. This is being coordinated an NGO based in Mbale and supported by Prof. Ron Severson of the University of Oregon. Prof. Severson will be in Lira thru early September.

The Lira program joins the Gulu and Soroti program already operating in the northern part of Uganda, which is supposed to be where all the height is. Also, under guidance of a Peace Corps Volunteer, a program for girls softball in Kitgum has been developing over the past 18 months. An All Star girls softball team representing the Kitgum Little League competed in the Uganda National Little League Softball Tournament this past May. The enthusiasm of the girls has now forced the league to start the baseball counterpart for the boys. This will bring us up to four well organized leagues in the north of Uganda playing regular games and giving hundreds of children the opportunity to develop their athletic talents via baseball and softball.

The future:

If the Lira program is successful, the NGO operating it has plans to expand it to it's base city of Mbale which is in the east of Uganda. There it would join the Lugazi program sponsored by the META corporation that has already built a Little League softball field, a batting cage, and is working on a full size baseball field for the older players. This in turn has started a competitive sugar company in the Jinja area to develop its own baseball and softball program to compete with the Lugazi operation. In a few years, we should have at least 3 or more highly competitive programs in the East of the country.

Meanwhile, the Little League Complex School team will continue to work very hard in developing the best student/athletes in East Africa. Hopefully, the existing programs in the Kampala area will learn that if they intend to remain viable, they need to really start training their kids in playing the game. We have several other American supported programs that want to start baseball and softball in Uganda now that they know the game is being played in the country, which they did not know about before. We are continuing to work with them in getting them operating as soon as practical.

January 2014 Program:

Once again, we will run our two week coaches training program this January. It is currently expected that coaches who want to improve their understanding of the game and also their coaching skills will be reporting to the Little League complex on Saturday, January 4, 2014. This will be our fifth annual two week clinic. The participants will be leaving for home on the afternoon of Friday, January 17. There is no charge for this clinic. We only want the people who are serious about training baseball and softball players and they only need to get to the Little League complex. It is also by invitation only. Last year we had about 80 trainees attend. They only need to bring their own pillows, blankets and personal affects. Everyone who attends is required to play in their own tournament games which are played every afternoon before diner with a championship game held on the last morning. In addition, there will be several high level teams playing Little League games in the early afternoons each day where the trainees will be able to observe the level of play and which they will be expected to umpire. In the evenings, we will show DVDs of Major League games. Classroom work will begin every day at 9AM, with on field drills every morning starting at 10AM. We already know that at least 4 or more coaches will be coming from each of our four northern leagues, with many more from our Kampala and Eastern Uganda Leagues. We may be forced to limit the attendance to about 80 trainees again this year.

November 2013:

With the coming of the new year, we will once again be running our two week coaches clinic for those people who want to become baseball or softball coaches and those coaches who want to become better coaches.  The program will start with the arrival of participants on the Saturday afternoon, January 4.  The actual training will start at 9AM on Sunday January 5 and run for 6 days before Saturday, January 11, which will be deemed a free day.  Instruction will resume at 9AM Sunday, January 12 and end after lunch on Friday, January 17.  Every morning from 9 to 10 will be classroom instruction.  10AM to noon will be on the field drills and practices.  After lunch at 2PM will be coaching, umpiring actual Little League type games on the 60 foot diamonds during the first week.  During the second week, it will be games played by the older players on the full size fields of 90 foot bases.  After dinner, at 7:30, it is video instruction time where actual Major League Baseball games will be viewed and commented on.  Every afternoon, from about 4:30 to about 6PM all the participants must play in actual games.  Since we expect between 50 to 60 coaches attending, they will be broken up into four groups for instruction and training purposes, but also for game playing in a tournament environment with the afternoon games.  Scores and standings will be kept with a first week winner playing the second week winner for the overall Championship on Friday morning, January 17.  List year, these games became quite competitive, including arguments over umpire calls in the Championship game.  Attendance at the clinic is by invitation only and it will be strictly enforced.

January 2014 may prove to be a momentous year.  Normally, we have had volunteers from the U.S. and Canada come over to help with the clinic instruction.  That will happen again this year.  What has never happened before though is the prospect of Uganda hosting a very significant visitor from Major League Baseball's Park Avenue Headquarters and also, for the first time in the 12 years that Uganda has been a part of Little League International, a visitor from Williamsport Pa.  We know that the US Ambassador to Uganda and the Uganda Commissioner of Sports are both looking forward to meeting them when they come.      

Allen V R Stanley Secondary School of Math and Science for the Athletically Talented.

The school is entering it's last month of its first year.  Many things have happened, both good and bad, but one thing is for sure, we have many boys and girls that really know how to play the games of baseball, softball and soccer, besides running.  In the new year, we will expand into basketball and volleyball.  To give some sense of accomplishment, the boys and girls have now played somewhere in the vicinity of 200 games of baseball or softball and about 150 games of soccer since January 2013.  They know how to play the games.  What we are planning on doing in 2014 is to take our 10 best boys and join them with our 5 baseball playing coaches and enter the team in the adult league.  The only way they will get better is to play against older and stronger competition.  Skill wise, they are probably better than most of the adults playing in Uganda currently.  Now it is time to prove it.  We also expect to do the same thing with the girls, if we can get an adult girls league organized.  We are certainly willing to host games and will be more than happy to travel to play games.  The one thing we are looking for, since travel can take a lot of time, we would always want to play at least two games every day that we play to give our players a greater benefit as a reward to the travel time and cost involved. 

In regard to being prevented from participating in last years Little League Regional Tournament in Europe, we have been advised that the problem may be cleared up.  At this time, it is still being worked on and we look forward to once again working our way through the Regional Tournaments in 2014 and making it to the World Series.  We expect to send a team of 13 year olds, and 11-12 year olds in the boys, and quite possibly in the girls, provided the girl's tournament is no longer held in Italy where we would have to stay in a hotel and travel by bus to and from the playing fields.  We will continue to press Little League International to break Africa away from Europe and host our own regional tournaments. 

Starting in January 2014, the school will welcome it's second class of 50 students to the complex.  The complex will be opening it's new laboratory building which will contain, on the second floor the Head Master's new office, an office for the Managing Director, the school infirmary and an office for the school nurse.  Early in 2014, we will build a new staff building to move everyone out of the dorms other than the teachers and the cooks.  We expect that building to be finished by the end of May 2014.  This year has been a major learning experience for everyone involved and there will be many changes made to improve the operation of the school and to make the school experience for the students more enjoyable than 2013 was.

Medical:

The 3D ultrasound breast imaging project is on schedule with the clinical trial and FDA approval expected by the latter part of 2014.  The only difference is how much better the instrument has become in detecting the slightest things in the breast.  With this time table, we have seriously begun to try and raise the $1 million to build the clinic for Breast Cancer Detection and treatment  and for the HIFU prostate cancer curing.  We are also looking for an additional $2 million so that the clinic can operate to exam women breasts, do the biopsy if needed, and take necessary medical procedures to expel a cancerous growth at no cost to the local women for at least 5 years.  We hope to make this clinic a prototype for all of Uganda and eventually all of Africa.  We need to raise the money, and if we are successful in doing so, we believe any kind of major surgery on a women's breast will be a thing of the past provided they make regular visits to this and future clinics that use the 3D ultra sound diagnostic method.  The prostate treatment, due to our arrangements with the HIFU company cannot be for free, but we would hope that those revenues would assist in keeping the breast imaging operation free for ever. 

December 2013:

Christmas arrived early this year at Uganda Little League.  Thanks to the generosity of the Los Angles Dodgers, Detroit Tigers, Major League Baseball, and many friends who donated equipment to Uganda Little League through Pitch in for Baseball, it is going to be another very special Christmas at the Little League complex.  Pitch in for Baseball has notified us that they will be shipping to Uganda Little League two large boxes of donated equipment consisting of gloves, baseballs, softballs, catchers equipment and tennis balls.  This will greatly assist the Little League programs all around Uganda.  The LA Dodgers and Detroit Tigers were kind enough to stock our library of DVDs of their baseball games.  Approximately 50 games on 50 DVDs will be traveling to Uganda later in December.  Our intention with these DVDs is to circulate them on a rotating bases to all our programs so their coaches and players can see how Major League Baseball is played.  We would hope that we will continue to be recipients of many more DVDs of baseball games in the future.  I do know that there are going to be many more Dodger and Tiger fans in Uganda starting in the very near future.  We thank all the very generous people who continue to support the children of Uganda with their wonderful generosity and wish them a wonderful and happy Holiday Season.

Starting on January 4, and running for two weeks, we will be hosting our 5th annual Coaches Clinic at the Little League complex.  We have tried to hold the total of number of coaches coming to under 60 that we can break up into four teams of 15 or so as we will be running, as part of the training program, a tournament for the four teams.  Unfortunately, we have had more than 80 people wanting to come.  As I write this, we have cut that number back to 66 consisting of women and men coaches from our 15 programs from all over Uganda.  The daily schedule will start with classroom instruction at 9AM, move to the fields at 10AM, break for lunch at about noon, and resume with more on field instruction and games at about 1:30. Tournament games will start at about 4:30, break for diner at 6 and resume with video of more baseball at 7:30 until 10PM, every day.  We do not fool around with this program, but we want to teach, have everyone participate in the 4:30 games, and have fun while doing it.   Everyone will be taught not only baseball, but also how to umpire on the bases and behind the plate.  The first week will concentrate on pitching and catching and basic rules and base running at the Little League and softball fields.  The second week will move to the full size field with the older boys playing with stealing, pickoffs and everything one finds in adult baseball.

We are expecting some very significant North American visitors in January and some high place government officials to visit the complex later in January.  People have heard about what is happening at the school and want to see first hand what is going on.  We are very happy to have these visitors join us.  One very important meeting will hopefully take place between our American Visitors and the Ugandan Sports Commissioner where we hope to talk about the progress being made with the Ugandan Government Secondary Schools who will be playing baseball.  Our Little League program is training the young players who will need a competitive place to pursue and continue to develop their talents, and this is where the Secondary School program comes into play, especially if we can get National Championship tournaments sponsored by the government played every year.  Our hope is to get at least 4 teams playing at the S1-S2 level this year, expand to the S3-S4 next year and eventually go up to the S5-S6 level shortly there after.  With Little League and the government school program we will be producing hundreds of players turning 15 every year.  With constant competitive competition, that will develop the talent and bring the Major League Baseball scouts, and once that happens, the program will take off.

When the American visitors and the high Ugandan Government officials are at the complex, the school will be in session which will enable everyone to see what we are doing at the AVRS Secondary School of Math and Science for the Athletically Talented.  We have recruited and screened many applicants for our second class of 25 boys and 25 girls at the S1 level.  The tablets, with covers, have been purchased and their Math, Science, and English books will be down loaded onto the tablets once they arrive in Uganda.  We will make sure that every student plays many games of baseball/softball, soccer, basketball, volley ball and become excellent runners over the coming year 

Little League International has informed us that they have modified their rules for admission to tournament play to include schools, if the players are active students, officially and actually attending the school.  This will allow Uganda Little League to have no problem with sending our winning National Tournament teams to play in the Europe/Africa Regional Tournaments this July.  We expect to send teams of 11-12, 13-14 year olds in boys, and girls if the girls can develop the wind mill pitching that will make them competitive.  The cost for getting each team to these tournaments is expected to be about $35,000.  If we send 4 teams, that means we will need about $140,000US

Cancer Clinic: 

As this is written, things are developing very fast here.  The 3D breast imaging using ultra sound is making great strides and is expected to obtain FDA approval later in 2014.  With that in mind, it is our expectation that we can start to build the Cancer Clinic starting in July 2014 and have it operating by late November 2014.  We are very optimistic that we will be able to raise the one million dollars it will take to build it and get it operating on that schedule.  We believe that we will need another $2 million to allow us to operate the clinic, fully equip and staff it to take care of the women in the area for 5 years without charging them one cent.  It is our intention to pick them up, bring them to the clinic, and bring them back to their homes at no charge.  We would also do the biopsies, if needed, and do the necessary procedures to eliminate the cancerous growths, again at no charge.  We will keep you informed.  Once the clinic is built, we will then also bring in the HIFU people to set up and help us run the prostate cancer treatment that will cure the men of this problem.  Unfortunately, our agreement with the HIFU company requires us to charge the men and any proceeds that will come to the Cancer Clinic for this program will eventually go to support the breast cancer program. 

February 2014: 

The new year has started in a spectacular fashion in regard to the Uganda Baseball and Softball program.  Our usual annual January coaches clinic took place from Feb. 4 thru Feb 17.  While our original goal was to have no more than 60 attendees, we were inundated with over 80 requests to attend.  We managed to cut it down to about 65, and eventually wound up with about 70 attendees.  This was more than we wanted, but we handled it and it was one of our best programs.  As usual, we started each day with class room instruction at 9AM, followed by on field instruction from 10 to noon, or a little later.  After lunch is was a boys Little League game from 2PM to 4PM for the first week which was replaced by a 13 year old game on the full size field during the second week.  From 4 to 4:30 was an evaluation of our players, coaches and umpires during the game and how to fix the problems.  From 4:30 to 5:45 two games were played each day using tennis balls between the four teams in which everyone had been drafted at our very first meeting by one of the four training coaches.  At 7PM, after dinner, the World Series games between St Louis and Texas were shown.  For training coaches and excitement, this has to be one of the best training sets of DVDs for baseball coaching in existence.  Everything that could happen did happen in this series between great plays, bad errors and good and bad umpire calls.  This set of DVDs had the commercials eliminated, which made the games shorter by a significant amount.  On the last Friday morning, the clinic was topped off by our championship game between the winner of the first week's games against the winner of the second week's games.  All these games during both weeks were very competitive, and since we used tennis balls, no gloves were needed and lack of catching skills did not result in injuries, and it forced everyone to learn how to catch properly using two hands.  We had about 15 women coaches and about 55 men coaches trained in coaching the game, learning how to really play the game and in how to umpire the game. 

On the last day of our clinic, equipment was given out to the programs in attendance based upon the requests they submitted on the day before.  A total of 25 programs asked for and were given equipment.  They consisted of existing programs in places like Gulu, Lira, Soroti, Lugazi, Luweero and Kyambogo, to total new programs where we gave out just 20 tennis balls and some bats to prove they had the teams to form a league and were actually playing games like we played at the complex, before we would give baseball or softballs, gloves and other equipment.  In all, we distributed 200 gloves, 237 baseballs, 187 softballs, 101 bats, 90 helmets, 10 batting tees, 480 tennis balls and 27 sets of catchers gear.  Most of this equipment came last year and this year in two shipments from Pitch in For Baseball. 

On the evening of January 20, Ms. Wendy Lewis, Senior VP of Major League Baseball came to visit Uganda for several days, returning to New York on the evening of January 24.  On January 22, a meeting was held with the Uganda Sports Commissioner and his assistant for about 90 minutes.  That meeting was followed with a meeting with the Uganda Foreign Minister, Mr. Okello Oryum and the Director of the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Chris Gashirabacie.  Minister Oryum had formally been the Minister of Sports when we had formally met him several year ago, and the current Commissioner of Sports worked under him.  Our mission was to get the Commissioner of Sports to get the parliament  program of secondary sport schools, which had passed two years ago, funded and operating at several secondary schools, as promised about one year ago.  We will equip them with baseball and softball equipment provided the teachers could be trained to be coaches and a national championship tournament could be held each year for the players in S1 and S2, then next year add tournaments for S3 and S4 players, and eventually for S5 and S6 players.  The idea is to have at least 4 teams play at least one game per week every week school is in session at every secondary school playing baseball, of which we would start with at least 5 or 6.  The new teacher/coaches will be trained at the complex during the next school break which will take place in early May and the secondary schools will begin actually games at the start of the May semester.  Two schools are already equipped as of this January.  We were assured that this will now happen and the Foreign Minister will assist in obtaining the funding for the Sports Commissioner.

On the following morning, the Sports Commissioner and his assistant visited the complex.  it was a while since they last came and they were very much impressed by what they saw.  They also had lunch with the secondary school students attending the AVRS school at the complex.  They know we will be building basketball courts and volley ball courts and wanted to know if they could possibly use the complex to host soccer, basketball and other National Secondary School programs at the complex since this is one of the few places in Uganda that can house and feed the competing teams.  We indicated that we would have no problem assisting in these programs.

The following day, prior to the Friday evening departure of the MLB VP, we journeyed to see Lugazi and the director of the sugar company that is sponsoring the Lugazi Little League.  They have built an excellent Little League field, batting cages and multiple pitching mounds.  The director was very happy to see us and indicated he will next build a full size field for the boys as they turn 13 and above.  He was also interested in the schools secondary sport program and besides the government school operating a baseball program at the Lugazi government secondary school, the sugar company may also operate one at its' company secondary school.

Cancer center:  We met with the Uganda Cancer people at the complex early in January.  We also had obtained an estimate to pave the dirt road from the main road to the complex.  If done by the people rebuilding the main road currently near the complex, the 3 kilometers could be finished for under $300,000, provided it is done while the equipment is near by, or before October 2014.   We are now working on this as we believe that we may also have the clinic built, assuming funding comes before August 1, by January 2015.  Timing is now everything.  We need the new instrument no longer consider experimental within the next month or so which will enable us to obtain the funding needed to get the building built and the road paved.

April 2014: 

Many things continue to happen in regard to Uganda Little League Baseball and Softball. We are preparing to run our three Uganda National Tournaments starting in early May to determine our representatives to the Europe/Africa Little League Regional Tournaments. We will be sending a team of 13-14 year olds that will start play in Kutno, Poland on June 29. Then we will send a team of 11-12 year olds that will start play on July 12, and finally a team of 11-12 year old girls that will start play on June 24. These are the only regional tournaments being held in Kutno this year. The other tournaments are being held where we have to stay in hotels that we have to pay for, supply our own meals and provide transport to and from the fields. In addition, most of the others locations require us to travel very far to other countries to just a apply for visas, much less obtain them. This is the hypocrisy of Little League Baseball when they originally told us the Uganda could not host tournaments because we did not have a place to house and feed the visiting teams. We have had that ability now for over 4 years, but yet they allow tournaments to be held that do not have these facilities.

Once again, the cost to bring the three teams to Poland this year will cost us slightly over $100,000 US, or about $35,000 per team. We are the only country in all of Little League that is annually penalized in this matter and yet is not allowed to host any tournaments, much less have to fight to get visas to Poland or other countries. All that disappears if we were allowed to host tournaments. Uganda attended the Little League Congress in Minneapolis from April 4 thru 7 and nothing has changed except other countries sympathized with our plight. That doesn't help in paying the travel costs. By the way, we were the only African Country to attend the congress which is held every 4 years now. Yet Little League wants to expand into Africa. That will not happen until Africa is broken away from Europe and is allowed to host its own Regional Tournament's just like Australia was granted this right in 2013.

The Allen VR Stanley school continues to make great progress and we continue to work with the Uganda Sports Commissioner to expand the baseball and softball program to Uganda Secondary Schools. In January, the Uganda Baseball and Softball Federation people asked if we would join their U15 league. We did not want to because they would restrict us to playing one game on Saturdays and we felt we were too strong for that league. We wanted to play against the adult players. They did not believe us. Since they claimed to have 6 teams playing, and we would make 7, we finally negotiated an arrangement where we could play two games on the days we were scheduled to play. Since they could only play on two fields, only four teams would play on any Saturday, leaving two teams to be idle. We agreed to travel to the two idle teams and play each team which would always force us to travel at our expense, but they would not allow us to play against the adult teams.

March 15, 2014 was the opening of the Federation Leagues for U15, Adults, and Women. We traveled to Luzara Prison grounds to play the home team, supposedly at 10:00AM and then a near by team at 1:30PM. Allen's bus drove the boys team of 16 members, three coaches and an umpire. We brought our own bases which we had to use to layout the field which consisted of a relatively flat ground and supplied the baseballs. The game started late because the home team did not show up until 9:55. At 12:15, the game ended during the 4th inning with the score 37, or there about, to 4. The four runs we gave up was mostly due to our pitchers throwing a lot of balls into the dirt because they were throwing slightly up hill instead of off a mound. The second game started on time at 1:30 after we ate lunch. It lasted less than three innings as the other team quit after the score got to 26-0 and in no inning did we get three outs. When we returned home that evening, we were advised that we were the only teams to play as all the other teams refused to play because their was no travel money coming from the Federation. It seems what money was there, disappeared. Teams that three years ago played when no travel money was available got spoiled by the money via Ruth Hoffman and now refuse to play anymore unless they get travel money. As of this date, the Federation has canceled its entire schedule.

The Uganda Commissioner of Sports advised us of a significant meeting at the Ministry of Education and Sports. It seems the government is very concerned with all the Federations not supporting youth sports and wants to take immediate steps to get the youth sports program going. The Allen VR School is serving as a model of what can be done with Secondary School Sport Programs. Thus, the Commissioner and we have agreed to get 6 secondary schools playing baseball and softball that our Little League programs can feed into. At this moment, there will be two schools in Gulu, two in Lira and two in Soroti that will start playing with the second term this year. Each will have 4 teams at the S1-S2 level playing a game each week. We will supply equipment and train the teachers to become coaches at the complex during the school break in May, which is when we will be running our tournaments. In 2015, the complex will host the National Tournaments for these schools, which will expand to 4 teams each at the S3-S4 level in a year or two, and then to the S5-S6 level two years later. This is in line with what the Ministry wants the Federations to support in all sports, or else there will be a lot changes in how Federations work.
Back to the Allen VR School teams. On March 29, Allen's bus, leaving the complex at 7:30AM carried the boys and girls team to Lugazi to play two games against their teams. Only one of the two expected playing fields were available to us, but the girls started play at 10:00 AM and after 6 innings, had won the game by a large difference in scores. They then ate lunch while the boys played. After 5 innings and a difference of about 20 runs, the game was ended, and the boys ate lunch while the girls now played their second game. At 3:30, the girls game was ended after 5 innings and the boys played their second game. Both of these games ended with lopsided scores. We arrived back at the complex around 8:00PM.

On Saturday, March 22, and again on Sunday, March 30, the male coaches arranged for 7 adult players to come to the complex and join them in playing against the 13 year old boys team. Finally, we had competitive games. The first game ended with the adults winning 7-5 when the lunch time curfew ended the game in the fifth inning. It had started late due to travel problems. The second game of the day had the kids winning 11-9. The game of the following week would up 6-5 with the adults getting just 3 hits for the game and obtaining 6 unearned runs. The last game was rained out. While Bernard and three others pitched for the adults, the kids pitching was superior in the number of strikeouts recorded and hits allowed. While both teams made numerous errors, mostly on throws, the kids made more. The kids got an opportunity to hit against decent pitching and learned about faster runners, while getting pitching confidence by pitching against adults. They still have a lot of work to do and were scheduled to play the adults for two more games, weather permitting, this past weekend. What was demonstrated is that this team of 13 year olds is just as good and competitive with the adult teams in Uganda. That does not say much for the quality of baseball in Uganda. We will now have to make it through the May tournament and then have to see how good they may be in Poland against European 13-14 year olds at the end of June.

The school continues to make progress. Since the last news letter in early Feb, the new laboratory and office building has opened. The nurse now occupies the top floor next to the infirmary. The Head Master and Managing Director's offices also occupy the top floor, along with staff meeting room. We are now constructing bigger toilets for the boys and girls and staff buildings. Both should be done around May one. We will then redo the volley ball court and begin working on the basketball courts. By the middle of January 2015, we will have built an eight room classroom block. We have invited, and expect to host the LC5 chairman at the complex. He is the equivalent of a Governor of the district. We met with him in March and he was very excited about what we were doing and was trying to assist us as soon as possible in getting our road paved from the main road to the complex. We also hosted a representative of the Uganda Investment Authority regarding getting our road paved. Promises were made and now we will see what happens.

Our first tournament games will be held on May 10. Mr. Apitta, Omara, the Ugandan Sports Commissioner has promised that he will be throwing out the first pitch. The last time he did this was in 2009, before the Sports Commissioner's Office was created and we hosted an African Tournament for teams from Tanzania, South Sudan and Kenya. We have high hopes of once again having Kenya come and play, along with a team from Tanzania in a year or two. We have been approached by Americans supporting a primary school in Tanzania who seem to be very serious about getting a good baseball and softball program going at their school. We know Kenya is already developing their Little League program. We now need a program in Rwanda and South Sudan, and then a lot of pressure will be put on Little League International to break Africa away from Europe. We will work very closely with the Tanzania program in the coming months.

July 14, 2014:

Polish Embassy in Kenya completes its mission of refusing all Little League Teams their visas.
July 15-Girls 11-12 year old Little League softball team is denied visa to travel to Poland to play in Europe/Africa Regional Tournament by Nairobi, Kenya Polish Embassy! Reason given is because the person who put up the $80,000 to get them through all the demands of the embassy did not send a copy of his passport when demanded by the embassy on July 10, the last day they were opened, even though 10 days before, the Managing Director at the school was told by this same person that all the paper work was there and the visas would be ready on July 15. Needless to say, they were denied, even though when she was asked in an email as to which page she wanted photocopied, the photo page or the pages showing that he had been to Poland 6 times already. she refused to answer. Evidently, she already knew and was just looking for a new excuse to deny the visas after the reason she gave for denying the boys visas on July 7 proved to be laughable, which was that she didn't think they had enough money to pay for the bus fare to get the team from Warsaw to Kutno, Poland, where the tournaments were held. This after already having put up over $80,000 to cover the expenses of the application process She claimed this even though she was told by me and the Little League Polish office that all those expenses had already been paid for. The message she has now sent to all of East Africa, which is controlled by this embassy, is that certainly no Little League team will ever get to play in a Little League tournament that is being held in Poland so long as she is there to block the doorway that controls visas. We do not know if this is her policy or the embassy's.

July 7, 2014: 

Poland's Kenya embassy denies boys 11-12 visas and prevents them from playing in the regional tournament.  After telling them that everything was in order on July 1st and that they could come and get their visas on July 7th, they were denied the visas on July 7th. The reason being, in the opinion of the embassy, they might not have enough money to get from Warsaw to Kutno, Poland, even though they have written assurance that all and every possible expense was to be paid for by Little League's Polish office and it would be backed up by Uganda Little League. Poland, representing the EU, apparently will not let a Ugandan team travel to Poland because they are Africans even if they over come every obstacle presented to them.

The questions being asked now "Will Poland, representing the EU, ever allow a Uganda Little League team to travel to Poland to play in a Little League Regional Tournament again?" "Are they refusing the Ugandan kids visas because they come from Africa and thus depriving them the opportunity to demonstrate their ability against European teams?" "Is this the policy of the European Union or the policy of the visa officer at the Polish Embassy in Kenya?" "Is this an official policy or that of an individual?"

July 1, 2014: 

At this moment, the boys 11-12, scheduled to leave on July 9 have been denied visas because the embassy claims they might not have enough money to house and feed themselves during the stay disregarding the Little League invitation saying that it is all provided and an email I sent that I would also support any financial needs they might have. It is the policy of the EU to not grant visas to anyone coming from Africa and they will look for any excuse not to give them, even though they have everything they need to prove everything is paid for.  It is just like the U.S. If you come illegally, you will have no problem, just do not try to come legally.

June 2014: 

Poland Denies Visas for the Uganda 13-14 year old team, thus preventing them from playing in the European/Africa Regional tournament that was scheduled to be played starting June 29, 2014. The biggest question now is will any team from Uganda ever be allowed to play in a Little League regional tournament as long as they continue to be held in Europe. On July 1, we will find out if they refuse to allow either the boys or girls 11-12 year old team from getting their visas.

This year, we have learned a lot about how Poland (or is it the EU) tries to keep Africans out of their country by the restrictions they put on getting a visa. We now had to apply electronically. We did that on May 31 for this team. As a result, we were told to send three boys to the Polish Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya for their visa interview on June 17, nine more on June 24 and the coaches on June 26, when the team is scheduled to fly to Poland on June 26. Thanks to Little League, they coordinated a meeting for the team that would require only the coaches to come on June 24, but since we had children of age 13 on the team, all the 13 and above kids had to also come to Nairobi to be fingerprinted. To do that and get them to the embassy for early Tuesday morning, they had to take a bus leaving Kampala at midnight for the 16 hour trip to Nairobi and stay at a hotel Monday evening, thus missing three days of school.

Upon arrival at the embassy on Tuesday, they get told their documentation is missing something. What is that something? Medical coverage! Little League sent the embassy documentation that they would have full medical coverage while in Poland and confirmed they got it via telephone from the person who sent the email. On Tuesday, we got told we should have purchased a policy in Uganda. Why would we have to purchase a policy in Uganda for over $1000 if we were already covered. We know the policy was sent several days ago because I got an email copy of it in New York.

Then we were told that the parents consent forms allowing the players to travel to Poland, and if they were to win, on to the U.S. were not adequate. These forms have to be notarized by a lawyer in Uganda at a considerable cost. They all were, but since a couple of kids come from single parent homes, they were not allowed because two parents didn't sign them. Evidently, single parent households are not allowed in Europe, but they are common in Uganda. Basically, no child from a single parent household can be allowed to play on a team going to Poland. The embassy claimed they needed a death certificate. Uganda doesn't issue death certificates and who says that a father was ever part of the family.

The next sweet story is the visa fee, or about $78 in Euros. The Polish Government web site says that sport teams applying for visas that are not for profits, (The team comes from the AVRS Secondary School which is an NGO in Uganda) participating in a not for profit sponsored program will not have to pay visa fees. Evidently, the Polish Embassy in Kenya can't read that far down their own visa application information sheet to find that out. But it is a program of the EU, or else Little League Tournaments are no longer a not for profit program. The embassy demanded that each applicant had to pay the visa fee in Euros, which they were prepared to do.

The big test comes on July 1 when we will see if the efforts of Little League can talk to the Polish embassy in Kenya and get them to follow their own rules and to allow kids from single parent homes to get a visa.

It has been an eventual two month at the Little League complex.  The school semester ended mid April and we sent all the students home.  After one week at home, about 15 players for each of the three tournament teams were asked to return to the school to prepare for the respective tournaments to be held in May.  The first tournament involved the 11-12 year old boys.  Six leagues had their all-star teams come to the complex for a double elimination tournament.  What was interesting this year was the overall improvement in the speed of each teams pitching.  Lira, just starting at its first tournament and with very young players lacked what everyone else had, and that was hard throwers that most teams in prior years lacked.  Apac, also making their first appearance at the tournament, had older players than Lira and had some decent pitching.  Soroti, Lugazi, Gulu and Luwero all had several hard throwers and these led to some very interesting games.  Gulu came with a team entirely of 11 year olds with the idea of playing for next year.  They were tougher than anyone expected, so look out for them next year.  Due to the 7 teams and the need for everyone to play every day, everyone played four games in three days and the morning of the fourth day saw the championship game only played.  Allen V R Stanley School won the tournament by going undefeated, but played some very tough, competitive games in going 5 and 0.  The quality of play has dramatically increased as everyone is learning how important it is to develop a number of good pitches to stand a chance in this kind of tournament.

The next tournament was for the 14 and under level.  Here only four leagues participated and it was scheduled as everyone one would play everyone else and the two top teams would play for the championship on the morning of day 4.  Day four produced a game between Soroti and AVRS School team.  The game went to the 5th inning tied at 1-1.  Here the Soroti pitcher tired and AVRS pulled away to win the title.

The third tournament was for the girls.  Once again, six teams participated in a double elimination tournament.  Jinja and the AVRS team went through undefeated and faced each other on the morning of day 3.  The game was tied at 6-6 into the bottom of the last inning when AVRS managed to push across the winning run.   Jinja then had to go on and play another game to come out of the loser bracket to play for the championship on the next day.  That game was not close as AVRS won easily against a tired Jinja team who had to play that extra game the day before. 

The first tournament games were held on May 9 in order to give us time to obtain passports and visas to get us to Poland.   This is part of the rainy season in Uganda, and while it did rain on a number of the tournament games, the fields dried very quickly and the ability to use the two Little League fields enable us to get all the games in on time without missing a day.  The one day it did rain most of the day, no games were scheduled as it was the day between the first and second tournament. 

Poland: 

The next stop for the winning teams is the Europe/Africa tournaments that will start in Kutno, Poland on June 29 for the 14 and under team.  That will be followed by the boys 11-12 and then the girls 11-12 on July 24 through July 28.  The airfare, which we booked in March for each of the three teams costs just under $20,000 per team.  By the time we get finished with all the other costs, it will cost us about $100,000 to get all three teams to Poland and back.  We think we have an excellent chance of winning in Poland and heading to the U.S. in August, but in baseball, you never know and that is why you play the games. 

We are now in the process of obtaining visas to Poland.  Once again, we must travel to the Polish Embassy in Kenya, a 16 hour bus ride each way.  Every year it get harder and harder to get the visas.  This year, we had to go on line and fill out a visa application for each traveler.  Two weeks ago, May 31, we did that for the 14 and under team as they are the first to travel, leaving Uganda on June 26.  When the electronic applications were finally done, the Polish embassy had three boys scheduled for an interview in Kenya on June 17, nine others on June 24 and the two coaches on June 26.  How do you let three boys leave school for three days to get to the Polish Embassy in another country by themselves or with their parents.  If this schedule is the only way visas can be obtained to Poland, Uganda will never be able to get to a Little League Regional Tournament in Europe.  Little League and its Polish headquarters is now trying to get the visas for us by having only the two coaches travel with notarized permission letters from their parents allowing the coaches to obtain their visas.  If they cannot get us the visas before June 26, we will lose the nonrefundable airfare for each team.  They think they can get it done, and as I write this on June 14, we are waiting to find out.

Other developments in Uganda:   

In early April, the ministry of Education and Sports dissolved all the federations because they were not supporting any programs for children.  We were told about this in late March.  They had 60 days to resubmit new operating plans for each federation.  In late May, we sat down with the Uganda Sports Commissioner to ask his assistance in helping us get passports for our players going to Poland and to also help the teams traveling to get by immigration without being stopped from getting on the plane due to "Child Trafficking" concerns, which happened every year we have traveled.  The other objective of our talk was the startup of baseball and softball at a number of government secondary schools.  Unknown to us, the Commissioner had brought in two members of his staff to the meeting that he was assigning to work with us on getting this done and expanding baseball.  What has been officially agreed to is that at least 4 teacher/coaches from each of 8 secondary school will be sent to the two week coaches clinic at the complex in January.  Two schools will be located in Gulu, two in Lira, two in Apac, and two in Soroti.  They will each have 4 teams of players in S1 and S2 grade levels playing at least one game per week, every week school is in session.  Since all schools will have to have physical education programs, each school will schedule a baseball phys ed class at the end of the school day. 

Here they will learn and practice fundamentals such as throwing, catching, hitting, fielding and other fundamentals of the game.  On the weekends, the four teams, each with their own coaches will play at least one game.  Each May, the school will select the 12 best players to play in a tournament at the complex for the National Championship  The Commissioner will work out an incentive for the coaches to coach properly.  if the coaches fail to succeed, they may be replaced with other coaches.  Travel expenses to the tournament will be taken care of by the government in some way.  The following year, each school may add four more teams at the S3-S4 level, and possibly two years later, four more at the S5-S6 level.  At this rate, each school will be fed players out of the existing Little League programs in their cities and thus should be producing about 25-30 players turning age 15 in about two years or so.  Eight schools and the AVRS school producing 25 fifteen year old experienced ball players each year will bring the Major League Scouts.  The talent is here and the Uganda Sports Commissioner knows this.  It needs to be developed and this is a major chance to make it happen.  Each of these schools will be part of the Little League program and the National Championship at each level should be able to move on to the Little League Regional Tournament if money can be made available.  Our closeness to the Commissioner's office and one of his assistants, who is a big basketball player/coach, has brought this idea to also doing a basketball program at these schools.  Both of these programs would be considered a "pilot program" which might be expanded to other schools in the future


New lab, Infirmary and Administrative Offices Building opens February 2014

 


July 22, 2014:

Three Uganda Little League teams expecting to play in European/Africa Regional Tournaments stopped by Poland.

Uganda Little League held three tournaments in May with the expectation that the winners would go on to the European/Africa Regional tournaments held in Poland starting late June through the end of August. Seven leagues came to the complex for the boys 11-12 year old tournament, six leagues for the girls 11-12 year old tournament and four for the boys 13-14 year old tournament. The Allen V R Stanley Secondary school managed to win all three tournaments. Little League headquarters in Williamsport were notified of the names of the players for all winning teams on May 22. On May 31, the teams applied for the Polish visas to allow them to board a plane for Kutno, Poland. The 13-14 year old boys were to leave on June 26, the boys 11-12 on July 9 and the girls on July 20. Two weeks lead time is the claimed lead time to obtain a visa according to the Polish Government web site. According to that web site, a school team going to Poland to participate in a sports event sponsored by a not for profit would not have to pay visa fees. Also according to all EU web sites, any group of people under 25 years of age traveling to the EU for educational or cultural purposes would also be exempt from visa fees.

All Uganda Little League teams needed a passport, proof of age, birth certificate, letter of invitation from a Polish program, proof that they were medically insured while in Poland, airline reservations because the visas were only good from the time you land in Poland until the time the plane takes off. Since we were dealing with children, we would need notarized statements signed by the parents giving permission to travel to Poland. If that was done, then in the past, only the coaches would have to come with all the paper work. New to us this year was that each person requesting a visa had to do it electronically and print that application out to bring to the embassy. In our case, we brought the actually airline tickets that were fully paid for each traveler and photo copies of everything for the embassy files. Also a letter from the Uganda Commissioner of Sports supporting each teams travel to Poland to represent Uganda, and a letter from the school headmaster.

Reality then struck on May 31 when we filed electronically. When each person did this, they were given a date to appear at the embassy for an interview. Three players of the 13-14 year old team, of which we were applying first because they were to leave on June 26, were told they needed to come to the embassy in Nairobi Kenya on June 17. Nine others were told they would need to appear on June 24 and the two coaches would need to appear on June 26, the day they were supposed to fly out of Uganda. We tried to call the embassy from Uganda on June 2 to explain that this was a team and they refused to speak to us and hung up. We were told to follow the rules. We notified Little League in Williamsport and Poland that there was no way we were going to send three boys and then nine more on a 16 hour bus ride to Nairobi on their own and asked them to talk to the embassy. In addition, we found that no buses would travel at night in Kenya and the only buses available to take to Nairobi left Kampala, Uganda midnight or 6AM. The embassy is only open on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Eventually, the Embassy informed us through Little League in Poland to have the coaches come on June 24, but we would have to bring the seven boys who were now 13 years of age because the EU requires anyone 13 and above to be fingerprinted at the embassy. Thus nine people left Kampala on Sunday night at midnight on June 22. Stayed at a hotel on the night of June 23 and appeared at the Polish Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya at 9AM on June 24. I felt they would not be getting any visas because the embassy wanted several days to process the visa applications, but maybe Little League in Poland had spoken to them and we could get the visas in time to have a coach fly back to Uganda from Kenya on June 26 in time to catch the plane and meet the team going to Poland at the Entebbe Airport, since this is what happened in 2012.

Results: Upon arrival at the embassy, they were told no one would be getting visas as the time was too short. No surprise. But what they were told next is shocking. Little League Poland had sent their insurance policy that said all the players and coaches would be covered medically. The embassy said that wasn't good enough because it was not the original policy and that we would have to get another policy from Uganda at a cost of $1200 per team. In addition, they said that several of the notarized parent consent forms were signed by only one parent. When told many of our players come from single parent households, they insisted we had to have a death certificate then, even though no death certificates are issued in Uganda.

In Uganda, you die, your neighbors dig a grave on your property and you are berried within 24 hours. No medical examiner, no autopsy, and no official paper work.

Also, even though we presented the actual airline ticket for each traveler, the embassy claimed that they did not believe that they were paid for. When does an airline issue a ticket to a traveler when it has not been paid for. These were the actual tickets, not E tickets. By the time the telephone calls were finished it was too late for the nine travelers to get the bus back to Uganda so they spent the night of June 24 in a hotel and did not get back to Uganda until the morning of June 26. The seven children missed four days of school for nothing.

Boys and girls 11-12 year old team coaches are told to appear at the Polish embassy in Nairobi on the morning of July 1. The four coaches appear and present all the paper work including two medical insurance policies issued in Uganda covering potential medical expenses in Poland at a coat of $1200 each. Letters from the Local Chairmen indicating which of the players come from single parent house holds. A letter from the head master of the school also indicating which students come from single parent house holds, and the airline tickets for each traveler for both teams. The embassy tells the four coaches that all the paper work is in order and the boy's visas can be picked up at the embassy on July 7 and the girl's on July 15. But before you do that, you will need to send seven players to be finger printed at the embassy the morning of July 3, even though they are not 13. Evidently, the new rule at the Polish embassy is they will be fingerprinted if they will turn 13 in the next 12 months. The seven children are on put on the bus at midnight July 1 and are met in Nairobi by one of the boy's coaches on the afternoon of July 2 and brought to the embassy the morning of July 3, fingerprinted and put back on the bus to Uganda and arrive in Uganda on July 4. Seven more students miss three days of school.

Monday morning, July 7, the boys coach arrives at the embassy and all the visas have been denied. But on July 1, the embassy demanded that everyone had to pay for their visas, $80 each, even though according the two reasons, there should have been no charge. The reason given by the embassy was the embassy visa officer didn't think there would be enough money to pay for the bus that would take them from the Warsaw airport to Kutno, where the tournaments were to be held. This, in total disregard to statements by Uganda Little League and Little League in Poland that all this was paid for.

Tuesday morning, July 15. The coach for the girls team comes to the embassy for their visas. Also all denied. The reason, because the sponsor who put up the $80,000 did not send a photo copy of his visa when the embassy sent him an email on July 10 requesting the photo copy. When he sent an email back indicating that sending a photo copy of a document like this is the fastest way fraud and identity theft happens and asking did they want the photo page or the pages that showed he had been to Warsaw a number times, they sent back "Do not send it".

Obviously, Poland, the European Union, or the embassy visa officer will never give a visa to a team of Little League players because they are from Africa. Since all of East Africa has to go through this embassy, African Little League will never be allowed to compete in any Little League tournament since every African Little League team has to play in Poland. Does this cover all of Africa? My guess is yes, unless the Polish embassy in Kenya is staffed with racists and their government doesn't know it.

When Little League in Williamsport after all that happened above was asked if Africa could host its own tournament separate from Europe, even if Uganda paid all the expenses, we were told "That will not happen". In the recent congress in early April, all the European countries participating in Little League were asked if any would travel to a tournament in Africa, they all indicated "NEVER!" due to the cost. Evidently, it is okay for all the African countries to have to pay the $35,000 per team to go to Europe to play in Little League tournaments, but now it is okay for all African Little League programs to be excluded from all Little League tournaments. Under the circumstances, by not breaking Africa away from Europe, Little League just eliminated Africa from all its programs despite what anyone at Little League International says. 


October, 2014:

While the summer has been a major disappointment for Uganda Little League, we will continue to move on and a number of people are willing to help move forward. One problem we are working on is the question of why the European Union, in the form of the Polish Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya, denied all three teams visas that would have allowed the Ugandan teams of 11-12 year old boys, 11-12 year old girls and 13-14 year boys a chance to participate in the European/Africa regional tournaments this past July. In all three cases, the three teams would have been favorites to win the Regional titles and continued on to play in their respective World Series in August. Without a doubt, they would have all been competitive because they all had the pitching in speed and numbers and they all had the experience of hitting against this speed. Would they have won their respective World Series? That is hard to say, but with a little bit of luck, they certainly would have had a chance. The 11-12 year old boys would have come with four pitches throwing at 70 miles per hour and above with the ability to hit that speed and curve balls. A huge improvement over the team that came in 2012.

But that is finished. We are now pursuing the visas for 2015 for all three teams. We know that the local embassy will follow the rules and policy regarding visas to Poland. Thus we know that no matter what we do, our teams will be denied again unless we can change the policy regarding African Little League teams. If we are not successful in doing this, then no African team will ever be allowed to play in Little League tournaments so long as Little League International forces every African team to play the qualifying tournaments in Europe. Unfortunately, Little League International has informed us that that will not change any time in the future.

To over come that problem, we are asking the Ugandan Foreign Minister to intercede with the Polish equivalent of their Secretary of State to have the Polish Embassy in Nairobi to grant the Ugandan Little League teams the visas. We are asking Little League International to work with the U.S. State Department to also intercede with their counterparts in the Polish government to make sure the embassy in Nairobi does grant the visas sometime in late May of 2015 that allows the Ugandan Little League teams to travel to Poland for the June, July tournaments. We have assurances that the Ugandan Government will work on this, but we are awaiting assurance from Little League International at this moment. We expect it to come shortly.

Secondary School program and annual January Coaches Clinic:

Once again, we will be operating our 6th annual two week January Coaches Clinic starting on January 7, 2015. We expect a very large group of new coaches this year, even though we want to limit it to only 60 trainees. On November 21, of next month, we and the Ugandan Commissioner of Sports, will be meeting with the Head Masters of eight Secondary Schools, (Two each in Apach, Gulu, Lira and Soroti.) to get baseball programs running in each school starting late January 2015. We will expect at least four teachers who will become baseball coaches from each school to attend the Coaches Clinic of January, if not more. We expect several coaches from several relatively new programs for softball and baseball to be sending a number of coaches as they want to expand the number of Little Leagues, plus those existing leagues that are growing more than a few teams. We have already promised two spots for new future coaches of a Little League program in Rwanda.

In the secondary program, we expect each secondary school having at least four teams at each school composed of students at the S1-S2 level. They will expand in a year or two as these players age into at least 4 more teams into S3-S4 level, and eventually to the S5-S6 level. The players will be trained on catching, throwing, hitting, fielding and strategy during the daily Physical Education classes of the normal school day. Each weekend will see all four teams playing at least one game per week and annual championships each year for the all star teams from each school. Our goal is to get Uganda an invitation to participate in the preliminary round of the World Baseball Classic in October or November of 2016 and eventually represent Africa at the Tokyo Olympics in baseball and softball. With what has been happening in the last two years and what we expect in the next couple of years, I firmly believe Uganda will beat any other African team in getting to the Olympics and eventually to the World Baseball Classic.

Other events in Uganda regarding baseball:

A group of Americans based at the U.S. Embassy have decided that they wanted to have some fun and begin to play baseball in Uganda. They expect to play games every Saturday starting the beginning of November and running to mid December, and then resume again late in January and play for several months of Saturdays. They will have a team of Embassy players, another team of Embassy players from Japan, and two adult teams made up of others, mostly Ugandans, and two teams made up of our 13-14 year old Little League students. This is the only way we can find competitive games for our school players. The U.S. Embassy players feel this is a way to have young players learn by watching. The rules are a little bit different as you can have both a defensive team and an offensive team. These rules are carefully spelled out in formal by laws and rules that have been written up especially for this "FUN" league The adults will play for fun, but we will play it straight. I am sure that the games we play against the adults will become very competitive over time as I believe the fun loving adults of the U.S. Embassy will want to show that the kids are not that good. Certainly the two Ugandan teams will not want to be beat by kids half their age and they will eventually play to win. I do not how the team from Japan will react. If this becomes serious baseball, it will certainly help the development of baseball in Uganda and I expect it to lead to future media coverage over the years as the interest grows and many more teams join and better quality of play results.

December 2014

How do you talk about what went on in Uganda during November? So many things have happened, and all very positive. Let's start with the AVRS Secondary School at the Uganda Little League complex.

The end of November brings to a close our second year of operating the school. All of our students in S1 and S2 had a wonderful year and all want to come back next year. The new school year for 2015 will start with the students reporting back to the school on Sunday, January 25. We have over 100 athletically qualified applicants for the new S1 class as the current S1 moves to S2 and the current S2 moves up to S3. The final selection process for the new S1 class will be based upon a combination of athletic ability and academic evaluation and the willingness to work hard at learning sports and academics. The reputation of the school just continues to grow and I believe it is just beginning. We will be opening our new classroom block with the new school year that impresses everyone who visits the complex. It is just the latest large structure to open at the complex and it will be joined by the complete paving of the road on the complex grounds. This is necessary for the students to be able to travel on a smooth surface from their dorms, eating area and administrative building to the new classrooms without having to touch any surface other than a paved surface.

Athletically, the school teams have proven that they are the best baseball and softball teams in the country regardless of age. This was proven in two ways. In mid October, the annual Independence Tournament for Baseball and Softball was held in Lugazi. It is for teams of age 15 and below. The AVRS girls absolutely destroyed the opposition. The games were not even close after the first inning and thus they walked away with the title, even though this will be the team that will hopefully travel to Poland, if visas are given, to play in the girls 11-12 year old Little League Regional Tournament. Yes they will all be considered 12 years old as none will be 13 before January of next year.

The boys were a little different. Having to play all the games in one day, they wound up winning all three 7 inning games played easily. The team that the head of the Federation brought to play had at least several players that were 17 years old or above. We know that because a number of these players the coach brought to Poland to play in the 2008 Little League tournament as 11 or 12 year olds. Add six and one half years to 11 and you get 17 plus, even though the tournament was supposed to only be for 15 year olds. Rules do not apply to him and that is why the U.S. embassy has banned him from ever being a part of Little League Baseball in Uganda. It didn't matter to us as they were eliminated by us and Lugazi early. We played Lugazi for the championship and won easily, even though we used two pitchers per game and a total of 6 pitchers as we do not allow any of our pitchers to pitch more than half a game at a time and only twice per week. They are all very young and we do not want to see any of them hurt.

Another measure of the AVRS player's ability is the results of the League that members of the U.S. Embassy started playing on Saturdays in November. Starting November 1, we played on four Saturdays and we entered two teams in the league to bring the total up to 6 teams with three games being played every Saturday. Our two teams consisted of 12 and 13 year olds who will be now turning 13 and 14 respectively. The other four teams were of the U.S. Embassy staff and Marines, the people of the Embassy of Japan and two adult Ugandan teams that were supposed to be the best of Uganda. After the first week, the team of Japan quit when they saw the quality of play of the two teams from the AVRS School. The two adult Ugandan men's teams did not show up for the last games scheduled for November 22 against the two AVRS school teams after they failed to come close to beating them during the games of the first three weeks. Therefore, the only game played on the 22nd was against the U.S. Embassy team and to make it even, the AVRS team supplied the pitching for the Embassy and AVRS teams. During the week end of November 15-16, we played to two adult Uganda teams and three games on Sunday against a team consisting of adults and under 15 year old players from Lugazi. Thus we used 10 pitchers over the five games and won them all.

Other major events of the month involved the meeting in Lira between the leaders of the Uganda Little League and the Head Masters of several Secondary schools that are located where we have existing and successful Little League programs in operation. We had two secondary schools from Surotie, one each from Gulu and Lira. All have good playing surfaces and will be starting at least four teams playing baseball at the S1-S2 level starting when the new school year starts in late January. The existing Little League programs will now be able to feed its older players into these schools The baseball players will be trained during the school day at Physical Education classes that hopefully will be their last class of the day. By doing this, they will have the ability to extend the school day by playing games or extensive practices after school normally ends. They are all boarding schools and are committed to have all four of their teams playing at least one game every weekend, in addition to what they do during the week. Uganda Little League, from donated equipment, will keep them supplied with baseball equipment to get their leagues going and to expand over the next year or so to four more teams playing at the S3-S4 level and eventually four more at the S5-S6 level. In addition, they have selected the week of August 17 to participate in the First Annual National Championship All Star tournament that will be held at the Uganda Little League complex. It is expected the Uganda Sports Commissioner will be covering their travel expenses for this annual tournament, as we were informed that his office will be receiving substantial financial support from the government to enhance youth sport programs. This fits right into what the government now recognizes as a major goal.

This tournament will consist of six teams as this is written. The tournament will be for S1-S2 school programs only. The four schools mentioned above, the AVRS school team and another Secondary School from the north western part of Uganda. During our January two week Coaches clinic, all five of these schools will be sending at least four members each to learn how to coach baseball. Our coaches clinic will start with everyone arriving on the afternoon of January 7. It is by invitation only. All the names must be submitted to the AVRS Coaching staff by December 15. Anyone who comes to the complex without being invited will be turned away. Our goal is to have about 60 coaches that will be broken up into four groups of 15 or so. Any more, becomes difficult to handle because everyone who comes participates actively in all the elements of the program. We do expect several visitors from the U.S. and Canada to assist at the clinic.

Anther significant event took place during November at the complex. Dr. Yusufu Mpairwe and Dani Kireju visited the complex. They are two of the Uganda board members of the Uganda Cancer Clinic. They came to see what is happening at the complex. With the new construction, the Cancer Clinic is being offered two large rooms of 600 square feet each from which to operate. They were also informed that we have the opportunity to be part of the Clinical Trial for the new cancer breast imaging device and were advised of its future. The question they needed to answer was "Will they be willing to be part of the companies clinical trial?" They answered in the affirmative and will now be looking for two things. One will be for a very experienced and skilled Radiologist and the other is to make sure that the rules of the Ministry of Health are complied with and to make sure the clinical trial will be successful. This is the first part of what will become a major advance for the women of Uganda in regard to breast cancer.

February 2015

The past two months continued to be eventful for Uganda Little League Baseball. In December, we attended the Winter meetings of Professional Baseball in San Diego and had the opportunity to be present for the evaluation of the RBI players from the area at San Diego State U. We had an opportunity to interact with a number of scouts from MLB and other teams as they put the players through the various tests. While the players we saw ranged in age from 14 to 18, the players in Uganda would have matched up very well with them, even though the Ugandan players are no older than 14. When the various scouts were shown the numbers for the AVRS kids in time for 60 yards and pitching speed, the comments from the scouts was "We know. Just keep going." Most want to see the AVRS players, but cannot make it to Uganda. We hope to solve that problem soon by bringing them to the U.S. as part of the RBI program.

During the meetings, we managed to share the numbers regarding running and pitching speeds with Uganda Little League's friends amongst the Detroit Tigers, LA Dodgers, N.Y. Yankees and Arizona Diamondbacks. All are very interested in the progress we are making and looking forward to the near future and the expansion of baseball into the Uganda Secondary Schools in 2015. They are most impressed by the running speeds as at least 4 run 60 yards in under 7.0 seconds and several are throwing in the high 70s.

In January, we ran our annual two week coaches clinic at the Little League Complex. We tried to cap the number of coaches at 65 so that they could be broken up into four groups. With the help of Ed from Canada returning for his fourth year, Harry of NJ returning for his third year, and Evan who has come over to teach American English at the AVRS school for this and possibly a number of future years, we ran a very successful program. We start with breakfast at 8:00am, followed by one hour classroom type instruction at 9:00am. We then go on the field for two hours, have lunch at 12:30pm, then back on the field at 2:00pm to watch or partake in a baseball game as coaches or umpires, then have the teams play a game using tennis balls from 4:30pm to 6:00pm. Each of the teams play 6 games in the first week and 5 games in the second week. Break for dinner at 6:30pm and watch actual games played by Uganda at the Little League World Series in 2012 and the St. Louis-Texas World Series games from 7:00pm to 9:30pm. The seventh day of the program is a free day, and the clinic ends with the winner of the first week afternoon tournament games playing the winner of the second weeks games on the morning of the last day before everyone goes home after lunch with the baseball equipment they need to run their programs. This year we gave out over 200 gloves, 40 dozen baseballs, 30 dozen softballs, 100 bats, 80 helmets and at least 16 sets of catcher's equipment.

This year we had three visitors from Rwanda who were to go back and advise their government on getting baseball and softball started in Rwanda supported by the government. One was a teacher and the other two were paid consultants to the government. They expect to get the program started this month in the primary schools and also in the secondary schools with government support. That means the national governments in Kenya and Rwanda are putting money into their baseball programs. We hope that Uganda will soon follow suit. The Ugandan government will get their opportunity this year as at least 6 secondary schools will be starting play with each having four teams at the S1 and S2 level playing this year and expecting to play for the National Championship during the third week of August at the Little League Complex. Each of these schools sent teachers to learn how to play, coach and umpire baseball and softball. They are expecting the government to cover their travel costs to the National Championships in August. In a year or two, they expect each school to expand to four more teams at the S3 and S4 level, and eventually to the S5-S6 level. This is what Major League Baseball is looking for because it will mean about 250 or more players turning 16 years of age each year with significant baseball experience.

On January 26, the AVRS Secondary School started its new school year with the admission of its third class of 20 boys and 20 girls. We know they can all run, but we now will turn them into ball players and soccer players. With the girls, we start them playing the same way as we teach the new coaches at the clinic, and that is by throwing tennis balls so they learn to catch properly with two hands and throw accurately without needing gloves or getting hurt. We then have them play "T" ball with the tennis balls and over the course of the week, move them up to softballs and gloves.

We are now constructing two basketball courts and two volley ball courts, one for girls with a 7ft net and one for boys with an 8 foot net. They are next to the new classroom building bloc so that the security lights on the building light the volley ball courts. They are expected to be completed by early March. The new classroom bloc has six classrooms of 600 square feet each and one double room for video and DVD showings of 1200 square feet. Since this school year, we will only need three classrooms, we will be able to turn two of the rooms at the end of the building over to our breast cancer program. All these rooms are naturally lit with clear plastic roof panels and are also equipped with solar lights for work after dark. Obviously new benches have been installed in the three classrooms.

Early in January, the Uganda Cancer Clinic people met with a prominent Radiologist and a Uganda Health Commissioner to review the protocol that has been presented to us called an "Out come study." The meeting generated a work schedule so that the study would actually happen which is tentatively scheduled to start around September of this year. It was agreed that we could follow everything in the protocol, but we would need to get a digital mammogram into Uganda as none currently exists in the country. We believe that one can be donated based upon a promise of a couple of years ago. All the work would be done at the complex and it would be done in a rather unusual way to collect the women needed for the study. Now we need to raise the money to cover the cost of the study. The paperwork required by the Ugandan Government is now being done and should be done in the next two months, and we are working on the digital mammogram. Our next meeting should take place in March where we will establish the number of people needed and come up with an approximate budget.
 


Breast Cancer:   

Our hopes to build our Breast Cancer Clinic later this year has failed to raise the funds in time for us to become part of the three year clinical trial program.  We have not given up on the fund raising.  We are still planning to get it done.  The property is there, the utilities are at the location, the only thing we need is to raise the one million dollars to build the clinic, purchase the 3D ultra sound instruments and tie us into the cable so the images will be able to be read anywhere in the world.  CIVUS is going ahead with the clinical trial which is expected to eliminate 80% of the biopsies that prove benign and catch the earliest development of breast cancer..  The clinic trial will prove that this procedure is far superior to any mammogram, unfortunately, we will not be part of it at this moment. 


April 2015

Many things are happening at the Little League Complex and here in the U.S. that has a direct affect upon the Little League Complex and the program. The first thing I would like everyone to do is to make sure you visit the photo section of this web site and look at the two major buildings that opened up in January 2014 and January 2015. This is just part of what is happening physically at the complex. What is not shown yet is the basketball courts that have just been finished along with net ball and the two volley ball courts that are currently in the process and will be done before mid April. Ironically, we are having problems in Uganda finding nets for the baskets. If we cannot find any in Uganda by the end of April, I will bring 3 pairs with me in early May when I travel to assist in running the Little League Baseball and softball tournaments. The boys 11-12 boys and the 13-14 boys will be played starting on May 8. We expect 8 teams for the younger boys to be competing and 4 for the older boys. We will house and feed them all at the same time for the 6 days they will be at the complex. We expect that next year, we may be housing as many as 16 teams. Following the boys tournament, the 8 teams of 11-12 year old girls will be coming to the complex for their tournament. We are working to send three teams to the Little League Regional Tournament in Kutno Poland during the month of July. Our major problem is getting the visas to travel to Poland. Last year, the Polish Embassy did everything possible and beyond to make sure no visas were issued. This year, we are going to start the process before the end of May so that we can battle every problem they can think of to deny the visas in an attempt to overcome them.

Should all three teams travel to Kutno, Poland this July, we feel that each team has an excellent chance of winning and coming to their respective World Series in August. The girls would be in Portland Oregon I believe, the older boys in Taylor Michigan and the younger ones in Williamsport. But in baseball, as in most sports, the best teams do not always win, but we will do our best.

During our tournaments, we will be playing at least 4 games for the younger boys and the girls every day of their tournaments. No one wants to sit around. For the older boys, we only have 4 teams, each team will play at least one game per day. With our two full size fields, it would have been easy to play 4 games per day also. We will probably play a double elimination tournament, but even if a team is eliminated, they come to the complex to play and every one will be playing every day, except the last day when the championship games will be played in the morning when everyone will leave after lunch on those days. If your team is eliminated in the first two days, you will still be playing on day 3 and day 4.

In regard to the school, the first semester of the three semester year is about to end in two more weeks. We brought in a new science teacher and have set up the biology and chemistry labs with all kinds of equipment. We have with us a volunteer American Teacher teaching English to our third year students so they can become used to American English in their talking and writing. He is also heavily involved in teaching and coaching the boys baseball and the girls softball. We are very fortunate that he seems to be enjoying what he is doing and we hope he stays with us for a number of years. We have expanded our library by down loading as many as 95 classic litature books from the Internet on to a flash drive. Now each and every student can down load any book they want to read, or have to read onto their tablet. How the world has changed. We will be bringing over copies of some recent New York State Regents exams in math, science and world history and geography that our teachers might use to make sure our students come up to or above the standards demanded to obtain a New York State Regents Diploma. While they probably could be down loaded in Uganda, these will be hard copies that the teachers can use as a tool.

We have witnessed the start up of baseball programs that consist of several teams at about 8 schools that we know of this spring. Each program consists of 4 teams or more at each school with each team playing at least one game or more per week while school is in session. The schools expect to bring their respective All Star teams to the complex during the third week of August to play for the National Championship. Within a year or two, we will bring the program from the current S1-S2 level to add an S3-S4 level, and eventually to the S5-S6 level, with each participating in their own National Championship Tournament. As more and more baseball players are approaching 16 with experience, we expect to see the Major League Scouts coming to Uganda. When the first Ugandan is signed to a professional contract or receives a full scholarship to an American University to play baseball, we will know that we are beginning to accomplish one of our goals.

BREAST CANCER OUTCOME STUDY
As everyone is probably aware of, we have been trying to start up our program to assist in diagnosing and treating breast cancer in the women living in the area of the Uganda Little League Complex. We now have a large area to operate in (2000 square feet) with utilities and security. We have what will be the first digital mammogram instrument in Uganda being donated to the program. It will arrive any month we suggest after May 31. We are in the process of who and where the technicians will be trained to operate it. Two of our American Directors have a series of meetings with potential donors this coming week. We hope that will give us the money to get the program operating fully for the next couple of years or longer. We are ready to go with the right people in Uganda to make it happen, we have the FDA approved Out Come Study Protocol, now we just need the money to get the new breast imaging instrument into Uganda along with the Mammogram instrument and get everyone trained and get the program going. It is our hope that this will be the prototype for all of Africa within the next two years and go a long way to greatly reduce the incidence of breast cancer that leads to unnecessary biopsies, breast removal, early death and all the other cultural problems that breast cancer can lead to in the African Community for afflicted women.

June 2015:

 

Once again, May and June have been very busy at the Uganda Little League Complex. As most of you may know from the Facebook on Uganda Little League, we held three tournaments at the complex in the beginning of May. The first ones took place on May 9 thru May 13 for boys 11-12 and for boys 13-14. The 11-12 year old tournament hosted 8 teams and had several teams turned back by failing to win in preliminary games that for the first time were used to keep the number of tournament teams to eight. At the same time, we hosted the 13-14 year old tournament for four teams. The younger boys tournament was a double elimination tournament, but even though two teams were eliminated after two days of play, they still continued to play a game for the next two days as the purpose of the tournament was to have everyone play a game a day. The games were played at 10AM and at 2PM on field 1 and field 2.


At the same time, the older boys tournament was being played on field 3 with a game at 10 and one at 2PM. In this tournament everyone played everyone and then played single elimination. Thus, every day, we had three games being played at the same time. Three in the morning and three in the afternoon. Fortunately, we had enough umpires to cover all the games, with four on both championship games on the last day of the tournaments. Teams came from the far north, Gulu and Arura, the East from Jinja and Lugazi and the Kampala area and slightly west of the complex. In both tournaments, the championship game came down to Lugazi and AVRS School. In the first case, Lugazi had to work its way out of the loser bracket which they managed to do and to put up a competitive game in the championship game by carefully handling their pitching staff constrained by the Little League pitch rules. On two days, we had heavy rain. On the first day, the rain ended by 8AM and all the fields were playable by late morning. On the championship day, the rain stayed with us until 10:30AM, but the fields drained well and since Lugazi did not have that far to travel to get home, both games were played at 2PM. Some of the more distant schools had to leave in the morning because they had 8 to 12 hour bus rides facing them in order to get home.


On the day the boys were going home, the girls were arriving to play their tournament that started on May 14 and ended on May 18. We had to move it up because some schools were starting classes on May 17, but the boys tournament prevented us from moving it up any more than we did. Once again, we had eight teams involved in a double elimination tournament, but as in the earlier tournament, every team played games every day. The championship game was once again between Lugazi and AVRS with Lugazi coming out of the Loser Bracket again for the right to play in the championship game. This time, there were no rain delays during the five days of this tournament, and it was again won by AVRS School. In the three tournaments, AVRS won all their games and are now proceeding on to getting visas to play in the Europe/Africa tournaments in Kutno, Poland in July.


Our visa experience keeps getting bigger and bigger. This year, we were told that we should meet with the Polish Council in Kampala, which we finally did get a chance to set up a meeting with him. We went to what we were told was his office to find that he was the Uganda Minister for Water and the Environment and that the office had moved to another location outside of Kampala. We could not find him via his telephone and his office told us he was in a meeting somewhere in Kampala. With no where to go, all our coaches and school administrators sat at the Serena Hotel while we tried to locate him. As we were about to give up and head back to the Complex, we get notified that he would meet us at the Hotel in about 10 minutes. He was true to his word of arriving in 10 minutes, but that was already 90 minutes after the scheduled time. But this is Uganda. In any event, we showed him all our documents, including the invitation letter, visa application forms and notarized parent consent forms, and 303 Development Foundation Financial statements. He liked what he saw and said he would write a recommendation letter for the three teams to get visas. We asked if he could arrange a meeting for the teams in Nairobi, but he couldn't. He could not tell us if we would need additional medical insurance over and above what Little League in Poland would provide. He told us it was not up to him, but the visa officer in Nairobi. Not much was accomplished other than a letter of recommendation.


In any event, for everyone's information, the parent consent form and the visa application form which must be obtain electronically, must be signed by all parents or guardians. Since our students come from all over Uganda, that means sending them all home to get these signatures. For some, that is a 10 hour bus ride each way. But it has to be done by all 36 players. Then the consent forms have to notarized by a lawyer at considerable cost. Medical insurance has to obtained to show that each traveler is covered up to 30,000 euros in case of an accident. Also at considerable cost. Then letters have to be written by the school administrators and then proof that there is significant money available to permit these teams to have it in Poland, over and above the travel, feeding and boarding costs. That is where the financial statement of 303 Development Foundation Corp and a letter from its president had to be duplicated for the Polish Embassy. Once we get an appointment for the team, we have to get them on a bus for the 16 hour bus ride to Nairobi to have everyone finger printed. They do not keep these records supposedly, and everyone needs to fingerprinted at the embassy every time you apply for a visa. That forces each team to miss 4 days of school. Is the cost and time worth it? At the moment, the 11-12 year old boys have their visas, and the 13-14 year boys hope to have their on Tuesday of next week in time to make their scheduled plane departure of June 27.


In regard to the school, we now have brand new basketball courts with six baskets and three volley ball courts. As a result, we are now training our students in basketball and volley ball. Once again, our goal is to produce school teams that will win in National Competition. Our next project is the building of an arena with seating for about 1500 spectators for indoor basketball, volley ball, net ball and even badminton tournaments. The area is going to be built with the help of the President of the Uganda Basketball Federation. He wants it to be the best in Uganda so the complex can be used for International events and for the training site for National basketball teams. In addition, starting next May, the AVRS school will be participating in the NBA Junior league for both boys and girls basketball for Secondary Schools. It will be one of the best and is scheduled to begin construction early in October with a late January, early February 2016 completion date. The Uganda Commissioner of Sports wants the complex to host all the National Sports Tournaments in the very near future as he knows our goal is to produce the best sport facilities in the country where competitors can be housed and fed. This area will also serve as a theater and place to hold significant events, including parties and dances.


Europe/Africa Little League Regional Tournaments.
Boys 13-14 July 2 thru the 9th at Kutno

Poland World Series at Taylor, Mich. August 16 thru 23


Boys 11-12 July 16 thru the 23rd at Kutno Poland

World Series at Williamsport, Pa August 20 thru 30


Girls 11-12 July 27 thru 31 at Kutno Poland

World Series at Portland, Org. August 13 thru 19

 


 

July 2015 Headlines. Stories follow:

 

● Uganda sends three teams to Kutno, Poland to compete in the Europe/Africa Regional Tournament. The 13-14 year old boys lose in the final Championship game to Czech Republic, even though in everyone's mind, they are clearly the most talented team of the 10 competing.


● Uganda 11-12 year old boys will be returning to the Little League World Series with their first game scheduled for August 20 at noon. Strongest team Europe has ever sent to the World Series in most peoples opinion. May do some serious damage in Williamsport.


● Uganda 11-12 year old girls become the first girls team to ever make it to a Little League World Series as they beat Italy in the Championship game. Uganda coach suspended for two games when all our subs play three innings, but one does not bat because we are the home team and we do not get up in the 6th inning. Under little league rules, 5.5 innings is a complete 6 inning game. If she allowed the team to score another run, the losing team would not have gotten up in the 6th inning but been embarrassed by the score, three of our players would only play one and one half innings, but our coach would not have been suspended and possibly assaulted as happened to the boys coach in their championship game..


● Crazy things happen in all three tournaments and some of the things will lead to significant changes and one mostly certainly should.

The winning boys team romped through the 14 team tournament undefeated. Made many friends, but some unhappy losers. In Little League, they have a mercy rule which if a team is ahead by 10 or more runs, the game is over after the losing team bats four times at the 11-12 level, and 5 times at older levels. Uganda mercy ruled every team it played but one. It entered the tournament with a lot of very good pitching, speed, good hitting and excellent fielding and demonstrated that in every game but one, where the opponent had an excellent pitcher, that being Italy, which they faced in the game featuring the last two undefeated teams in the tournament with the loser having to come out of the loser bracket and beat the winner twice on the final day in order to win the tournament. Every other game ended via mercy rule after less than 4 innings. Italy removed it star pitcher with the score 0-0 after 3 innings after reaching 50 pitches to save him for the Championship game in three days. Uganda, in the fourth inning hit a two run home run and in the fifth a three run home run and won 4-0 on a no hitter. A walk being the only blemish. How does a three run home run and a two run home run total 4 you may ask, but it did because this is what happened in the 5th inning. Runners on second and third with no outs, and the batter hits it over the fence, which results in two runs and one out. It seems the runner on third base decided to wait to touch home so he could shake hands with the batter and had the runner on second touch home before him. One out for passing a runner and only two runs. The rest of the story continues as Spain beats Italy in the game to get the winner to play against Uganda. The best pitcher doesn't pitch and Uganda faces Spain for the championship. After Uganda is ahead 10 to nothing, the Spanish coach, instead of stopping at the third base coaching box heads for the Uganda dugout to assault the Uganda coach because our kids were still running and he did not like it, especially after we hit three consecutive home runs in the inning. Fortunately, the umpires stopped him and the game ended at 16-0.


The winning girls team has a related story to the winning boys. In girl's play, a pitcher can only pitch in one game per day and since there were only five countries represented, each team had to play four games in three days with the top two teams playing for the Championship on the fourth day. On the first day, Uganda played Poland and won by mercy rule where in the first inning, the umpires were using common sense umpiring to get the game over with That means the strike zone for Uganda greatly expands, and any opportunity to get an out is taken advantage of. In any event, the favorites were Czech to repeat as they were last year's winners, Italy who had won for several years before, and the Netherlands who probably have one of the best club programs in Europe. On day one, Czech had to play Italy in their morning game and the Netherlands in the afternoon game. What was probably the best pitcher in the tournament was used by them to beat Italy. Against the Netherlands, they lost by a score of 13-0 because of pitching weakness.

 

On day two, Uganda played the Netherlands in the morning and faced their best pitcher, and then played Czech in the afternoon. The score after three innings of the morning game is 9-0 in favor of Uganda. Since all our players play at least half of the game, the manager put in the three subs to play the last three innings. But now it is time to get the game over with before the score gets worse. With Uganda the home team, only 8 batters get up in the fourth and fifth innings and since we are the home team, the game ends after the top of the sixth inning. Because one of the subs would be the lead off batter in the bottom of the 6th inning that did not happen, the manager is pulled away 30 minutes before the start of the 1PM game against the Czech and never to return and Uganda is not notified that she is suspended until we ask the umpires not to start the game 10 minutes early until our coach comes back. We then find out that a guard is assigned to her to make sure she does not get within 600 feet of the playing fields for Uganda's next two games. The Czech is a well played game going into the 5th inning at 0-0. Uganda wins 2-1 in six innings, defeating the tourney's best pitcher, and goes on to win the Championship game against Italy to become the first African Girls Softball team to make it to the Softball World Series.


The faiths were against the Ugandan 13-14 year old team. Clearly the best team at the 10 team tournament, as they scored more runs than anyone, allowed fewer runs, stole many bases without anyone being thrown out and never allowing any one to steal a base and picking off two runners. Mercy ruled every team played, including the eventually winning Czech team. Why aren't they champions, because of spotty defensive play and a strange umpire call. Czech and Uganda were the last two undefeated teams in the 10 team tournament and met in an afternoon game scheduled for 1PM. The morning game went long and the ground crew was still fixing the field during what our manager thought was our infield time, as the visiting team, and thus thought he was not allowed after his normal time had expired during the field fixing. Winning 5-3 in the sixth inning, a couple of bad errors and other problems led to bases loaded and a 5-4 score with two out. A hard hit ground ball to our third baseman causes the ball to bounce off his throwing hand, which he then picks up, takes a long time to finally throw to first and by the time he does, the runner is safe and the score is tied. He now lies in pain on the grass and is medically attended to. After about 5 minutes, he sits up and tells the coach he is fine. The coach lets him stay in the game without a test throw. Needless to say, the next batter hits a routine grounder to the third baseman, who, with plenty of time makes a throw to first that should end the inning with the game tied. Unfortunately, the throw sails at least 15 feet over the first baseman's head that brings in two more runs and that is the last throw he makes the rest of tournament as he eventually winds up at the hospital and a heavily taped hand. He is our number three pitcher. We then go to the losers bracket to mercy rule Italy again and then mercy rule Czech the next morning by 10-0.

 

That forces the final game to be played for the championship that afternoon at 4PM. Once again, we are the visiting team in the afternoon. It rains from about 12;30 to about 3. All the fields are muddy and the grounds crew works to get the main field playable which is done about 3:40. As the visiting team again, we are supposed to be first for infield practice, but our other inexperience tournament coach is told by the umpire to hurry up as they want to start the game on time. He immediately pulls the team off after about 1 minute. The Czech team ignores the umpire's request and takes their normal infield practice time. Winning 2-0 in the third inning, bad plays by second base and shortstop bring the score to 2-2 with two outs and the bases loaded. This time a ground ball to the shortstops right gives him the opportunity to make a short flip to an unsuspecting third baseman who is not on the base and also drops the ball as the score goes to 3-2 against Uganda. In the top of the 6th, using our speed, we tie the score at 3-3. Then due to pitch counts Uganda is now forced to bring in our number 5 pitcher as 4 pitched the day before and 1 and 2 pitched today, and 3 is hurt. He gets the first two outs easily, but the next batter singles. He then hits the next batter and walks the following on 4 pitches. Now comes the strange umpire call. The next batter, who has already struck out twice in this game, with an 0-2 count then falls across home plate and gets hit in the upper back with a ball that was about knee high. He lies across home plate for several minutes with his head in the other batters box in obvious pain. Our pitcher wants to know how he can do that. The umpire then awards him first base to force in the go ahead run. A wild pitch follows and then a two run single and we lose 7-3.


The writer of this piece was supposed to be a coach for all three teams to assist our inexperienced coaches who had never been to this type of a tournament. Two weeks before the start of the first game, he is told he is not allowed to be the coach, cannot eat with the players or stay in the dorms. He must find and pay for his own hotel room and meals. Why. It seams the reason, according to the Little League Rule book is that if you run a tournament, which I have been doing every year since 2004, you cannot coach a tournament team. The same goes for league presidents, or country directors. I must now resign from all three of these positions. Since not a single Ugandan parent ever comes to see any of our tournament games, this may now result in some serious problems for Uganda Little League. My job as always has been to coach the kids and to coach the coaches and umpires so baseball and softball can flourish in Uganda for the benefit of the children. Time will tell. All our people interested in the sport want to be coaches, not administrators.

 

September 2015:

 

We have come through a very eventful June, July and August and now things are beginning to settle down at the school in Uganda as the students are all returning for the third and final semester of this year. June saw 36 students travel to Nairobi, Kenya to apply for their visas to Poland and get finger printed, basically losing a week of school. Then those same students traveled to Poland in July, losing two weeks of school, and then two thirds of them traveled to the U.S. in August, but still missing the last days of the second term. It is expected that this term will be much more normal as all students should be at school for all the days of the semester.
August became quite an experience for many people besides the players that managed to travel to the U.S. to participate in their respective tournaments. There are many adults at the school, at Little League International and the U.S. Embassy in Uganda that would not like to go through what happened a second time. The kids had a great time in Portland, Oregon for the girls and Williamsport, Pa for the boys and everyone learned a lot. I think everyone would like to see some changes made in the timing of July events and August events, but I doubt that they will be able to be made. The real solution would be to give Africa its own regional tournament with the winner going to the respective World Series in the U.S. Unfortunately, Little League International will not let it happen now.

 

The problems regard timing of European Tournaments and travel and U.S. visa timing. The girls did not get home from Poland until the evening of August 3. On August 4, they paid the $4500 payment for the 28 US visas required so that they could make the next day appointment at the U.S. embassy that the players and their parents and the coaches had to attend for the visa interview. The U.S. embassy told everyone that they would get the visas but they would not get their passports back until August 12, but the girls had to leave Uganda on August 10. Little League International would not authorize it's travel agency to purchase the airline tickets for either team until they were sure the passports with the visas were in the hands of the teams. The U.S. Embassy visa section claimed they were over worked and never want to see this happen again. Finally, they did return the passports on Monday afternoon, August 10, and only then did the travel agency begin to look to book flights for 15 people to get the softball team to Portland, Oregon in time for Tuesday afternoon, with opening ceremonies scheduled for Wednesday. Those tickets did not materialize until 6:30PM Uganda time on August 10 with the coaches now notified you have less than three hours to get your team together and to the airport when the travel time from the school to the airport is about 2 hours when there is no traffic.

 

The Managing Director of the school is also the head softball coach of the school and she had to get to the school and get the bus to take them to the airport. Upon arrival at the airport, they found there was no ticket for one of the coaches. Fortunately, she had significant dollars on her that she had intended to use to purchase things for the girls in Portland that he now had to use to purchase the ticket for the coach. Fortunately, I was to meet the team in Portland and I had booked a motel room for myself and rented a car and had a charge card with me. While the girls had a wonderful time in Portland, and made many friends amongst the players and spectators, they were starving. These are not American girls. They do many athletic activities, which they enjoy, but they also eat. What was being served for meals with no seconds was barely an appetizer for them. Since they were staying in a hotel with each room having a small refrigerator and micro wave oven, we could do certain things to supplement their meals, such as pizzas, frozen microwave able meals, chicken pieces and lots of soda that I was able to purchase at super markets and at Domino's pizza, and bring these items to the hotel with my rented car. The girls went to the zoo when some one arranged for their transport. A Portland family brought them to their home for a very extensive barbeque, But then problems surfaced as the head of the neurology department at the University Hospital invited them for a tour and a lunch. Unfortunately, at the time of the lunch, they were supposed to at the airport, that due to miss communication, they were not aware of and thus missed their plane. Again the new adult friends took care of them for sleeping, feeding and getting them to the airport the next day. They were very generous and adapted the head coach as their daughter.


The boys only found out that they were going to be traveling early on Thursday morning from Uganda on Tuesday morning and thanks to the Managing Director, were able to arrange for their travel to leave the complex before 3 AM to get to the airport on time. Once again, they were confronted with no ticket for one of the coaches. This time, Allen was not there with dollars as she was in Portland, Oregon. The coach now had to travel back to the complex and I arranged for him to fly on Sunday where I would meet him in New York and bring him to Williamsport on Monday. The boys, because of no seats on such a late date, had to fly south to South Africa, sit there for 12 hours and then fly to New York where a bus took them to Williamsport. From the time they left the complex to the time they arrived in New York, what should have been about 20 hours became 33 hours, again sitting in South Africa for 12 hours with no dollars or Euros to purchase things to eat or drink. Coming through Europe, the between plane stay would have been 2 hours or less and no need to purchase food or water. Going back was the same route.
The last time an Ugandan team came here was 2012. We were able to bring them to Trenton, N.J. to play against a West Windsor Little League team and then go to a Trenton Thunder game in the evening. Unfortunately, that Little League game was rained out and we wanted this team to come and play the game this year. In 2012, they also played a game north of Philadelphia, went to a Phillies game, then to Yankee Stadium for a Yankee game and then with the North American Ugandan Society hosting them, to the United Nations for a tour of the General Assembly and Security Council and a visit to Major League Baseball's Offices. Due to the lack of our input into the scheduling, we had to pay $2400 to change the airline ticket to delay their departure so they could once again come to Trenton to finally play that game. The West Windsor Little League has been one of our equipment donors and you can see West Windsor Shirts on some of the players on the web site pictures taken at the school in Uganda.


Several years ago, we had said we wanted to get the Ugandan teams to the Little League World Series, but not only to get there, but to win. While we did not win the World Series, we did show that we can and did win. The girls became the first European team to ever beat an American Regional Winner and just fell short of making the championship round. The boys got the first win in the regular tournament and showed that they were certainly competitive on the International level. While we are the best in baseball and softball in Europe and Africa, we are certainly competitive in the world. Now we need the rest of Africa to come and try and beat us, because we can now be their measuring stick as to how good they have to be in order to compete on the world stage. We hope they do that.


To avoid all the headaches at Little League International, their travel agency, the U.S. Embassy and for any African team coming to the Little League World Series, Little League needs to break Africa away from Europe. We could host our tournament in June and have plenty of time to get U.S. visas, airline tickets, and have African input regarding travel arrangements.


Finally, Uganda needs to evaluate the benefits of paying $35,000 per team to participate in the regional tournaments which consists of about 2, or at most 3 competitive games. That is a very high price to pay per competitive game. Ninety five percent of the cost disappears for African teams if the tournaments were to be held in Uganda.

 

November 2015:

 

We have very interesting happenings taking place in Uganda involving baseball, softball and the school. As some people may know, Major League Baseball has been running a one week program in South Africa for the last 3 or 4 years the first week of every December. This has replaced the effort MLB used to make in bringing some Africans to their three week camp in Italy each August. In any event, for the first time, two of our older players will be attending that camp. What is special about this is MLB has not seen these two players but are taking our word for it that they are amongst the best in Africa, even though they have only turned 15 recently. We have been notified that a number of Major League Baseball scouts will be at the program and they are looking to see these two players.

 

In regard to scouts, the Little League Complex will be hosting two scouts from the Cincinnati Reds during the early days of January. They are coming to check up on all our players at the school, including those that went to Williamsport for the Little League World Series. We have already been told the drills that they want our players to go through, including an actual game. In addition, Allen and I will be meeting with a number of teams in Nashville during the Winter Meetings taking place the week of December 6. We hope we can convince Major League Baseball to support the baseball programs we are working on with the Uganda Commissioner of Sports. While most Major League Teams operate baseball academies in the Dominican Republic, we feel that we have a better proposal for them. Everyone knows that the Major League teams cannot touch our players until they turn 16, but they may have the thought that they can then send them to their academies in the Dominican Republic. That has been suggested to us and we have shot it down. All these players speak English and they all need to go to school. With the help of Major League Baseball's Office, we could set up a lot of secondary schools as baseball academies that is also supported by Major League Teams without anyone being signed to a contract until they graduate secondary school. It is possible for the teams and Major League Baseball to take a school for young players and when they graduate they come into that team's program, so that each school becomes like an academy but allows the kids to continue their education without a contract. Since the schools in Uganda are not confined to taking students from within certain boundaries, each school can recruit players, possibly aided by their companion Major League Baseball team. The associated team could also train the coaches and have some significant control over them at the same time.


Starting on January 16, secondary school all star teams will be arriving at the Little League complex to compete for the Uganda National Championship for the S1-S2 level teams. In a year or two, we will add a National Championship tournament for S3-S4 and then S5-S6 a couple years after. This will be the first National Tournament at this level and is being run with the great assistance of the Uganda Commissioner of Sports. This will be a double elimination tournament, but no matter what happens, every team will be playing a game each of the first four days with the championship game being played on the morning of January 21. This tournament, and the eventual other two National Championship Tournaments, will always be held in January of every year.


Prior to the Championship tournament, starting on January 10, we will be running our annual coaches clinic for about 60 to 70 coaches, both new and old. We are going to concentrating on the new coaches going into the Secondary School program and our existing Little League programs. We will try and accommodate additional coaches from programs that we believe will be series in putting together a serious program.


Girls have not been left out of our program. It seems there is an International Tournament that is going to take place in British Columbia in July 2016. Ruth Hoffman, a Canadian, has come to look for players to represent Uganda in this tournament. For the first time in a couple of years, she stopped by with a couple of Canadian coaches to look at our girls. They were impressed and asked for five of them to join the National Team they are putting together. I believe before they are through, they will be taking more. Even though these girls are only 13 years of age, they are amongst the best in Uganda and it is my understanding, this Canadian tournament has no age limit. This gives you some idea as to how far behind the sport is amongst the older players in Uganda. They are also taking our coach, Allen.


At the school, we have a prior visitor who is going to be coming to Uganda for January 4 to teach a program at the school for movie making. This is a pilot program for 20 of our older students. She intends to also film the program as a possible documentary, and if it is successful, it will be a part of the school curriculum. Jennifer has visited the school three years ago and she intends to run the three week program prior to the start of classes on January 24. Hopefully, it makes to your local television station sometime in 2016.

 


January 1, 2016:


The new year will be here in a few more days after I write this news page. A number of significant things are going to be taking place during my trip to Uganda, which will begin this evening, because a significant number of events have and are taking place in a number of areas.

Baseball: As most people are aware, the baseball winter meetings took place during the first week of December and they were very eventful as far as Uganda was concerned. We were invited to spend some time with Mr. Eric Lee, the assistant GM of the Cincinnati Reds. This was brought about as a result of their Global Scouting Director working with us to arrange for two of their scouts to come to the school the first week of January. Due to time, we are bringing 20 players back to the school to go through certain drills and play a couple of games under the sharp eyes and stop watches and radar guns of the scouts. This is very significant for us and the baseball program in Uganda. It marks the first time for actual MLB scouts coming to Uganda to evaluate the talent that we have been trying to develop.


Prior to 2016, Dave Dombrowski had told us that if we could get about 150 players turning 15 with some baseball experience, scouts would be coming. While we are not quite at that number, Cincinnati is the first of what we hope may be scouts from all the Major League Teams. While they can only be in Uganda during the first couple of days, we hope that future visits will allow us to take them around Uganda to visit all our schools playing baseball on a regular basis so they will get to see hundreds of players. It is wonderful that Cincinnati has seen fit to send their scouts, and I am sure others will be following. Where is Major League Baseball International? We have been trying to get to them to begin to work with the Uganda Commissioner of Sports on rapidly expanding the talent pool of Uganda baseball players. Five years ago, during what was then our first clinic, and two representative of MLB's envoy program working with us wanted to know how serious we were in Uganda. Their question to me was what would happen if something stop me from coming to Uganda. The short answer at that time was that it would collapse. That is why Allen Vivian was brought to Nashville in December.


Allen Vivian and I spent time with the International Scouting people and GMs of Boston, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, LA Dodgers, in addition to Cincinnati. Her comments and speech answered many of the questions I got five years ago and said Uganda is very serious about baseball and softball, and we are doing it now! We also spent some time with David James of the RBI program of Major League Baseball. David and us are trying to work on getting a team of 15 year old players to come to the U.S. this year, possibly in April. The object would be to do something in regard to Jackie Robinson Day and have the Ugandan kids play 8 to 10 games in as many days so that more scouts could see some of the young kids. While the RBI program would not be in full swing in April, we are hoping to fill in the schedule with local Varsity High School teams.


In the meantime, starting on January 10 in Uganda, we will begin our seventh annual two week coaches clinic for 60 to 70 coaches and umpires. Part of that clinic will include the first Secondary School National Championship Tournament for kids in S1 and S2. It will be a double elimination tournament starting on January 17, with the championship game played on the morning of January 21. This tournament will be run every January under the direction of the Uganda Commissioner of Sports and Uganda Little League. It consists of the all star teams of eight leagues coming to the Little League Complex to compete. Possibly as early as next year, a second National Championship Tournament will be added to this one when the players move up to S3 and S4. A third will come shortly after that as the kids move to S5 and S6. Thousands of kids will be playing to get into these tournaments every January. When that happens, we expect to see many visitors from Major League Teams watching these tournaments.

Softball: The annual January clinic is also for softball coaches and umpires. This year, Uganda is expecting to send a team to the World Championships in British Columbia in July. While there is no age limit, it is expected that the Uganda team will consist of more than half of the players from the AVRS school team that went to the Little League World Series in August of 2015, even though they will only be turning 14 in 2016. A statement like that demonstrates the progress we have made, but also how far we still need to go. But it is a start and Allen Vivian has been asked to be one of the coaches.

School: In late January, the AVRS Secondary School of Math and Science for the Athletically Talented will begin its fourth year. With what we have accomplished in athletic competition and academic program, we are developing a significant following and many more applicants are applying each year. What this means is that both are academic ability and athletic ability is improving each year as we become more selective. In turn, we continue to make great strides with our capitol structure so that are facilities both athletically and academically are the best. We are getting there as great progress is made every year. We are in the process of being accredited by the Middle States Organization out side Philadelphia. It may take longer than 18 months, but we are in the process.


Starting on January 3, one of our past visitors to the complex of two years ago is coming with a crew to run a three week program on film making. It will be for half of the students entering their fourth year at the school They will be shown how to write, act, direct and film a short movie. At the same time, I have asked them to make a documentary of what they are doing so that maybe that will make it one day to American Television. Look for it late in 2016. It is possible that they may also film the drills that the Cincinnati scouts put some of the baseball players through during their visit to the complex.

 

Breast Cancer: The Uganda Breast Cancer Clinic Directors will be meeting in Kampala early in January to plot our future course. We currently believe that we will be opening the Breast Imaging Clinic sometime after July 1, 2016. How we want to operate and when is up for discussion. The new instrument that we fully expect to replace mammograms and thus eliminate benign biopsies is in the final stages of FDA approval. Supposedly, it is better than originally imagined and is constantly being improved. The instrument is available for us to obtain as of January 1. How and when and where we operate it are the questions that need to be answered. Three years ago, we thought we would need to raise $3 million to operate it as a free clinic. The people who thought they could obtain the money found it very difficult to do. We were originally going to operate it as part of a clinical trial. That is no longer needed, but money is still hard to obtain. After this January meeting, we should have a pretty good idea of what we need to do to become the first African prototype program that may eliminate benign biopsies and enable breast cancer to be detected long before it requires any major surgery. We will keep you informed of our progress. If you wish to join us, please feel free to contact us.  info@UgandaLittleLeagueBaseball.org

 

February, 2016:


During the second and third weeks of January, we held our annual Uganda Coaches Clinic for our usual 60 or so coaches who were already coaching programs or were just starting to coach their programs. It was a very eventful two weeks and very different in some ways from the past. For new coaches, we certainly distributed simplified rules, ran our usual tennis ball training sessions in catching and throwing and our usual tennis ball "T" ball tournament the first week and our pitching tournament the second week with the respective champions meeting on the final morning of the program to decide the eventual winning team. But what was different, we broke up the teams into half new comers and half experienced coaches and mentors. The idea being that not only would the new coaches learn from the formal instruction, but the experienced mentors were now responsible for the training of the new members on their team. In addition, a great deal of effort was spent on getting everyone to actually umpire games and learn from actual drills that the S1-S2 local team was going through. The ultimate goal was to have everyone learn from the first annual S1-S2 National Championship tournament.


January was marked by some very different and significant programs taking place. On January 4th and 5th, we entertained two scouts from the Cincinnati Reds. We tried to get them to stay at the complex, but they claimed they already had a hotel booked in Kampala, but after seeing our guest house, the next time they will be staying. We brought 20 or our better players to the complex for two reasons. The S1-S2 boys were going to be playing in the National Tournament later in the month and the 10 S3 boys were going to be taking part in a very special program for the three weeks before school was scheduled to start. As a result on January 4 and 5, the 20 boys participated in four baseball games, one each morning and one each afternoon for the tow days, put on for the benefit of the Cincinnati scouts. The older students, composed of 10 girls and 10 boys from formally S3 were to be taking part in a three week program designed to teach them how to write, produce, and actually make a movie, which they did do. That movie will be shown at the Kampala film festival during June of this year. At the same time, the instructors were also making a documentary on how they ran the class. That we look forward to seeing on International television. During the scouts visit, they were filming some of the baseball games being played in the morning and afternoon of January 4 and 5 and were going to send those clips to the Cincinnati Reds scouting bureau.


During the coaches program, we distributed over 12 full sets of catcher's equipment, 20 dozen baseballs, 8 dozen softballs, over 100 baseball gloves, 300 tennis balls, over 50 baseball and softball bats, and at least 70 helmets to the 12 programs who were represented at the coaches clinic. Our tournament for the S1-S2 Championship did not go off as planed. While the government was supposed to provide the transport for the teams, the head masters of 3 of the respective schools did not want to send the teams without the money in advance. Thus, three teams did not come. One of the teams from Soroti did come. Thus a very serious problem solving session involving the officers of the Head Master's Association and the Uganda Sport Commission and us took place to make this program work smoothly in the future. What was resolved was that we would attend a serious meeting upon my return to Uganda in March with four very serious Head Masters who will make sure they provide four coaches each that will make sure this program works. This meeting will also involve me and the Uganda Sports Commissioner and several other people. It will be limited to only four schools at the start because there will be money involved for each school's winning coach. Private schools will also be able to compete in the tournament but would not be able to obtain any government aid in travel. In May, the coaches of these schools will be at the complex during our tournaments and they will be trained on what is expected of them in running their programs. They will go back at the start of the second semester and continue through the third semester in running their respective leagues. In December, they will select an all star team of their league to come to the Little League complex next January to compete for the National Championship. We already have more applicants than we need right now. I am confident that this will work this time. All these championship tournaments in the future will take place in January of each year, expanding soon into the S3-S4 bracket and then into the S5-S6 level. Everyone is committed to making this work. We expect the scouts of many teams coming to Uganda every January for these tournaments in the near future.


During the month of January, we held our annual Uganda Little League meeting. It was decided that we would not send an 11-12 year old girl team to the regional tournaments since that would require the players to make a 16 hour bus trip each way to Kenya to be fingerprinted for the visas. We would allow the boys 11-12 year olds to do that. The girls we are planning on entering them in the Europe/Africa tournament for the 14 and under girls that will be played in Italy this July since Italy has an embassy in Kampala where we would have to apply for their EU visas. For the older boys, we are working on having them come to the U.S. directly and try to have them involved with the RBI program in Cincinnati this August. If that cannot be worked out, we then may decide to have them play in the 15-16 year old tournament that will also be played in Italy. What is ironical about this is Italy has no place to house or feed the teams during these tournaments. We were told about 8 years ago, Uganda cannot host these tournaments because we had no place to house or feed these teams, which ironically, we now do, but still cannot host any of these tournaments. Africa is still forced to keep paying the $35,000 entry fee cost to play in each regional tournament and thus all of Africa is excluded from playing in Little League Tournaments, unless they can find a foolish person who thinks paying $10,000 per tournament game played is good economics.


The last program of interest is that our annual meeting of the Uganda Cancer Clinic was held during January. Dr. Rosemary was selected to travel to San Francisco to partake in viewing the, operation and training of the Ultra Sound Breast Imaging device that will change the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer around the world. While our original goal was to start the clinic operating this July, it will now be put off until the start of 2017. This will allow us to get use to the ultimate design of the instrument that will ultimately come on to the world market. The science is now proven, but the esthetics will be greatly improved over the next couple of months. We look forward to the future of taking down breast cancer in the world tomorrow.

 

April, 2016:


Spring is upon us in the U.S., but in Uganda, the weather remains the same as does the length of day. But other things are really changing rapidly. The recent presidential elections in Uganda forced us to delay opening the school by four weeks. Our first term will thus be lengthened until May 6, extended by three weeks to partially make up for the late start. Our annual welcome to the school party for the forty new students in this years S1 class thus was not held until March 18, four weeks into the new term. It still was a big hit with all kinds of performances put on by the students. It started at 2PM and did not end until 11PM. It ended at that time because there were several games being played the next day against visiting teams and the Head Master felt it was time to get to bed.


During March 12, the winning athletic/academic teams for last years S2 and S3 classes were treated to a day at the beach and a lunch and dinner away from the school. A great time was had by all, which is a great incentive for the teams in this years S2, S3 and S4 classes to work on their weak teammates in academics and athletics in order to win this year's competition. The teams were reorganized this year entirely by each classes designated captains.


Baseball and Softball:

 

This years National tournaments will take place starting on May 9 for eight teams of boys 11-12 years old and 4 teams of boys 16 and under. This week of games for the boys will be followed by the girls tournaments starting on May 16. Once again there will be a double elimination tournament for the eight teams of 11-12 year olds, with a championship game scheduled for Friday morning. The older teams will play each other for the first three days and their championship game will be played on Thursday morning amongst the two best teams.


It is our expectation to send three teams to the Europe/Africa Little League Regional Tournaments. The only team we will send to Kenya for EU visas will be the 11-12 year old boys so they can play in Kutno, Poland. We do not want to make the 16 hour bus trip each way to Kenya just to have everyone fingerprinted. The boys will be playing in the 16 and under tournament which will be played outside Milan, Italy. We expect to send the girls to the 16 and under tournament in the Netherlands, even though most of them will be only 13. We are doing this because they are the only tournaments where the embassies for the EU visas are in Kampala, thus avoiding that long bus trip to Kenya. All these problems would go away if Little League International would allow Africa to hold their own Regional Tournaments. We know the countries surrounding Uganda have Little League programs that would supply us with at least 3 or 4 teams other than ourselves, not counting South Africa, Cameron, Ghana and Nigeria. We could host them all at no cost to any of the countries other than to travel to Uganda. Unfortunately, none of them can afford the money to get them to Europe and thus their competitive level remains very weak.


Speaking of Baseball, there is a Japanese program to start a baseball league with no age limit and it started about three weeks ago in Uganda. There are about seven teams, of which 6 are composed of adults and the AVRS composed of 13-15 year olds. The problem is the program will pay for half the transport of 13 participants per team, much better than nothing, but basically, each team plays only one game per month through November. We do not want to travel any distance to play only one game as it disrupts what we are doing at the school the day we are supposed to play. We asked to play two games on the same day, saving some travel money and allowing us to bring two teams, so at least 20 of our players can play on that day while the rest of the boys stay at the school and play amongst themselves. Well Friday was our fist scheduled games, and even though we only allow our pitches to pitch three innings, thus using three pitchers in each game we play, and having two different teams represent us in the two games, both games were won easily, with the second game being mercy ruled. That may sound that our players are very good, but it is more a reflection of the quality of play of the adults in Africa. Right now, our AVRS team of 14 and 15 year olds is probably the best in all of Africa. But since there is no Africa Little League tournament, we may never know for sure. We will welcome any team that wants to play us to come to the school. We always feed our opponents lunch when they come, and we will do the same for those that want to come to beat us in boys or girls. We just want good teams to come to give us an incentive to get better.


Construction:

 

On May 1, construction will start on the arena. The plans have all been approved and this will probably be the best area to watch a game indoors anywhere in Uganda when it is finished. The main building for playing surface will be finished by December with the locker rooms, meeting areas and VIP suite done by early 2017. The facility will have 4 locker rooms and two sets of toilets and showers so one game can immediately follow another without anyone sharing locker rooms. It will also have a deep stage at one end for plays to be performed, dance recitals, movies to be shown, music concerts and other large gatherings. We expect it to be the home for the Ugandan National basketball team and other potential Ugandan Olympic teams. After this construction we will work on the 400 meter eight lane running track and then a swimming venue for International competition. In the mean time we are drilling bore holes to increase our drinking water supply and fencing for fields and site security. We still have a lot of things to do yet, but we are getting there, year by year.


Our reputation is spreading as we continue to make progress. During the tournament we expect to host at least 4 teacher/coaches from each of 4 government secondary schools to train them to become good coaches. We and the Uganda Sport Commissioner and their respective Head Masters expect them to go back during the second and third school term and each have four teams of S1and S2 students playing at least two games per week and practice during the daily Physical Ed. classes. Thus each school is expected to have a four team league where at the end of the year, they will have a league winner. The winning coach will collect a prize of cash and will bring a team of his best league all stars to compete against all the secondary schools at the Little League complex for the National Championship each January. The goal of the Head Master's Association is to have at least 40 government schools eventually participating, plus all the private schools that wish to join at the S1-S2 level, then the S3-S4 level and eventually to the S5-S6 level.


In January, 2017, we are planning to finally start up the breast cancer screening clinic using the new Ultra Sound device that will eliminate the need for 80% of the unneeded biopsies. We had a meeting with the USAID people at the U.S. Embassy in March and they were very helpful in their suggestions. While congress will only allow them to support communicable diseases, they were not restricted from offering advice on other sources. We look forward to continued communications between us and the embassy people. We are looking forward to possibly hosting the new U.S. Ambassador at the complex sometime in May or early June.

 

May, 2016:


Will any African team make it to a Little League Regional Tournaments, much less the World Series?

 

On Monday, April 25, Uganda Little League was informed by Little League International that the Allen V.R. Stanley Secondary School would no longer be allowed to participate in any Little League Regional Tournaments because Little League International has determined it to be a "Sports School" and according to a rule that took them four years to find, "Sport Schools" are not allowed to participate. Since this has been the only program in Uganda willing to overcome the $35,000 barrier and visa problems that Little League puts in front of African Schools to participate in their regional tournaments, I doubt you will see an African team in any of their tournaments again unless they suddenly agree to break Africa away from Europe and hold tournaments in Africa.


A little bit of history is in order here about Little League International and their knowledge of how the AVRS school operates. Back in January 2013 is when the AVRS school started. Our goal was to find the best academic/athletic students and develop them so they might be able to obtain scholarships to US universities to study to be scientists and engineers. We would hope to do this via half athletic scholarships and half academic. In order to obtain those scholarships, we would need to produce the best academics and athletes possible in any sport. We would bring these students to the school, house and feed them and train them at no cost to them or their parents. We wanted the best student/athletes in a number of sports where scholarships are given out. All this was published and can be found in our history section going all the way back to the fall of 2012. Little League International knew this, because in 2013, they banned the school from participating because we had several students from Lugazi that had played in the World Series in 2012 and they came to the school without Little League International's permission. They then changed a rule that allowed students at a school to be a league. That allowed us to participate in 2014. Unfortunately, that year the EU refused to grant the three teams we were hoping to send to Europe visas because they claimed that we did not prove we had enough money to travel the 50 miles from the Warsaw Airport to the tournament site even after having already shown the embassy the $60,000 worth of airline tickets we had to pay in advance for to bring to the embassy.


We overcame that barrier in 2015 by showing the embassy that there were funds available to the school worth over $4,000,000 that would cover any costs the embassy could possibly dream up that would prevent the players from returning to Uganda. Thus, we were expecting to do the same thing this year for three teams for this years tournaments. That was until April 25 when Little League suddenly found this rule that they have chosen to suddenly enforce. They knew we are going to be going to these tournaments back in February. What took them so long to find this rule and why did they decide to enforce it now and not in 2013? I am sure we will never know the real reason.

Enough of the bad news. Starting May 7, the AVRS school will be the site of the boys 11-12 Uganda National Little League tournament for 8 teams. It will be a double elimination tournament, but even so, every team will be playing games every day from Monday to Thursday, even though they may already be eliminated from the title game early in the week. The title game will be held at 10AM on Friday, May 11. At the same time, we will host an under 16 tournament for boys, also starting on May 7 with every team playing each other and then the second and third place team playing each other for the right to play the first place team for the championship.


Starting on May 14, we will have 8 girl softball teams, age 11-12, playing for their championship with the title game played on Friday, May 18. Also at the same time we will host an under 16 tournament for the girls, just like the boys tournament the week before.


With Africa no longer participating in Little League Regional Tournaments leading to the respective 8 Little League World Series, we may host our own All Africa Little League tournaments. As we have always promised, if we do this, we will house and feed the teams at the Uganda Little League complex at no cost to the teams. Back in 2007, we were told by Little League International that one of the reasons the Middle East Africa regional tournament had to be held in Poland was because we had no place to house and feed the visiting teams in Uganda. Well we have had that ability since 2009, but still we are denied tournaments while Chez Republic, Italy and the Netherlands are hosting regional tournaments this year where, if we went, we would have to pay for our own hotel rooms, food and even be forced to hire a bus to get from the hotels to the fields to play a game. How come they can host tournaments and Africa cannot? Another good question that will never be answered.


At this moment, and it is still very early, if we host the All Africa tournaments, we would expect Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania to join us as we know they have government supported programs. South Africa, Cameroon, Nigeria, and Ghana may also join us in Uganda, since they supposedly have viable programs, but we are not sure of them other than South Africa. The only thing they would have to do would be to travel to Uganda. We would cover their transport from the airport to the complex, house and feed them for the week and expect them to be prepared to play games every day they are at the complex. The visa problems any African team has in trying to get to the EU disappears as a number of African countries do not need Ugandan visas, and the few that do, would get the visas when they arrive at the airport.


One last thing about this which in my eyes is very funny. Finally, after 10 years of invitations, one of the Little League International officers was planning on finally coming to watch the Uganda tournaments and visit the complex and possibly learn about the school, at least that was what was being planned for until April 25. Suddenly, even though we were still hopping he would come, he was stopped from coming. How pathetic.

Potentially really good news regarding our Cancer Clinic. By the end of this year, an instrument that may replace mammograms and unnecessary biopsies may have final FDA approval and possibly be ready for sale early in 2017. If that happens, we will be ready to begin operating our clinic with this instrument sometime after July 2017. This clinic would be a prototype for all of Africa. The results might eliminate any cutting of women's breasts in the future due to cancer. We have applied for a significant grant via USAID to get the clinic operating. We would need to purchase the instrument, train the operators and the technicians who would maintain it before it can start up. Our eventual goals is be the training center for all of Africa and possibly, if done right, maybe eliminate disfiguring surgery of African Women's breasts due to cancer in the near future.

 


 

July, 2016:

 
This year marks the first time in the existence of the AVRS school that it has been told that while you are not banned from Little League Tournaments, they are going to make it impossible for us to participate with any team unless we change the goals and means of operating the school. We can send teams if the players only come from Kampala and from no where else. Our goal was to send a number of teams just as we did last year. The new hurdle is created because our students come from all parts of Uganda, not just from Kampala. Everything is supplied to the students at the school free of charge as we never wanted financial concerns to interfere with a student coming to the school as we always wanted the best student/athletes from all over the country. About 10% of our students come from Kampala, or currently about 15 students. We have boys and girls in approximate equal number that make up that number and the ages currently range from 11 through 15, which means we could theoretically send as many as 6 teams to Europe/Africa tournaments this year. How to you staff six teams from a total of 15 students? No one is allowed to play baseball or softball with 3 players on a team. Thus Little League makes sure AVRS doesn't go anymore because we will not change the objectives of the school.


We still held our tournaments in May. The AVRS girls won theirs, but the 11-12 year old boys did not, and to our surprise, the school that did win claimed they had a sponsor willing to put up the money to get them to the Regional Tournament in Kutno, Poland. When we informed Williamsport about this, they were shocked that anyone in Uganda could beat AVRS, much less they had the money to go. We also told them the players had their birth certificates and passports and were ready to get their visas from the Polish Embassy in Kenya. All they were waiting for was their visa invitation letter from Little League. One month later, the school was still waiting for the invitation letter when Little League International decided that they did not know enough about this league and thus would not allow them to come to the tournament and would not send an invitation letter. What is Little League International afraid of? There are lots of possible explanations as to why was AVRS basically banned after four years, and now no one from Uganda is going to be allowed to go. But of all those explanations, none of them speak favorably of Little League International.
On Saturday, June 25, the people who ran our three week film making class in January came to Uganda for the premier of the movie the students had made in January. The students wrote the script, directed the movie and acted in it. The instructors brought the raw footage to New York to be spliced and edited and brought it to Kampala for the premier. The movie is a little over 40 minutes and it was a big event in Uganda which is now competing with Nigeria to be the film making center for all of Africa. All the important people were there, including the entire class of 20 students who made the film. They are now working on a full length movie.


On July 17, we will be hosting Mike Randall at the Little League Complex for a day of baseball.. Mike is coming to look for possible future professional baseball players to invite to the program that has been held each December for the past 3 or 4 years in South Africa. It is sponsored by Major League Baseball. This will be their first visit to the complex as the local federation, who they normally work with, wouldn't even tell them where the school was since we refused to give them any money they always demanded from us. Mike knows about us and they are coming on their own. It will also give us a chance to talk to them about what we are doing with the Uganda Commissioner of Sports and getting baseball into government secondary schools and holding annual National Championships every January at three different age levels. This January will have the first National Championship Tournament for the students in S1-S2. Nest year, we hope to expand upward to a second tournament that will be for students in S3 and S4.


On May 5, construction started on the Allen VR Stanley Pavilion, It will be finished in time for the January 2017 school year to make use of it for the two basketball courts it will have, volley ball courts, badminton courts and a large stage for various performances. It will be the most modern indoor arena in Uganda, and possibly all of East Africa. It will have four locker rooms and a large private suite for VIP visitors, in addition to being set up for televising events. As this is written, construction is well ahead of schedule. It will also be the home for the Uganda National Basketball team and possibly other National events.


The second semester will end at the school during the first couple of days of August. In the meantime, the boys, playing in the adult league being supported by a fund out of Japan, has continued it's play of about one game per month since early March and the first half has now ended. The AVRS school composed of its students of which none is older than 15 is in first place by a large margin of the seven team league. They have played the other 6 teams, and are 5-1. The team they lost to by a score of 5-3 was beaten by two other teams that AVRS beat. Most of their wins were by mercy rule. The team always plays two games when they play, which means we played two different teams on the three days we played. We also restrict our pitchers to only three innings, and thus we may use as many as six pitchers on the days we play. We currently have, according to radar gun readings, two pitchers throwing at 86 miles per hour and five others in the lower 80s. What we are trying to do is to teach the others in Uganda that you must develop pitchers if you want to play in a tournament and win. The only way you can do this is by giving them all a chance to play.

 

September, 2016

 
It has been a different summer this year from the past, but the future looks interesting. As everyone by now knows, Uganda was not allowed to participate in the Little League Regional Tournaments held in Europe. Will Uganda ever be allowed to participate again, we do not know. In any event, we are moving forward. With a series of visits by various people, we are already making plans to get Africa into its own Regional Little League program. In late July, a visitor from South Africa Baseball and softball came to Uganda to help Mike Randall evaluate young Ugandan baseball talent to bring to the one week MLB program held in South Africa each December. For the first time, they came to the AVRS School and were very much impressed by the ability they saw there compared to everything else they have been seeing in Uganda in the past years. There is nothing that can develop talent in baseball, or for that matter in any sport, like playing many competitive games. In any event, we were informed that South Africa dropped out of Little League a couple of year ago, but really liked the idea of Africa running its own Little League Region and hosting All Africa tournaments. When informed that we intend to run a double elimination tournament in May 2017 for any Africa country that wants to compete, we were informed that South Africa would be one of those teams. We would expect Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, in addition to South Africa to attend, and possibly Nigeria, Cameroon, Ghana, and possibly some others. We would host the tournament at no cost to anyone other than getting themselves to Entebbe Airport. The last three would encounter significant airfare costs, but those would be their only costs contrary to the European tournaments that require Uganda to pay for hotels, meals and even bus transport to and from the fields. When the tournaments are over, will Africa ever be invited to the Little League World Series. I do not think so initially, but how can they keep a continent of over one billion people out of the Little League World Series. We are very tired of them studying what to do with Africa for over 12 years and doing nothing. How long do you need to study something before you do something?


During late July, Mr. Bill Bavasi and Mr. Garth Iorg of Major League Baseball came to the complex, along with Mike Randall. We subsequently sat down with Mr. Bavasi along with the Ugandan Commissioner of Sports and spoke about what is going on with Baseball in Uganda. Mr. Bavasi wants to do something, and thus received a lot of information and many directions as to how MLB might want to get involved with developing the talent in the country. Uganda is definitely going to do what it has planned and that is to introduce baseball into many government secondary schools. Already, we have five schools, each with four teams playing in their own leagues at the S1 and S2 grade level. The Uganda National Baseball Tournament for these schools will be held at the Uganda Little League Complex in January of 2017 with each school selecting and sending their respective all star teams to the tournament paid for by the Ugandan Government. Next year, each school will be expected to have four teams added at the S3 to S4 level, and eventually to the S5 to S6 level. Thus each school will have 12 teams playing at three different levels with National Championships held every January for the respective all star teams. Other private schools are free to join in the tournaments. The government goal is to get at least 40 schools participating with qualification tournaments around the country, plus any private school would be free to participate, the only thing is they would have to pay their own travel expenses. Will we produce players? You bet we will.


Arrangements have been made to bring our older AVRS players to New Jersey to play for 7 to 10 days in the Black Sox Foundation program. The exact dates are to be worked out, but they will be here in the later part of August. The things that will affect the dates is what else will these players be doing at that time. We were told earlier this year that Uganda would be part of the RBI program tournament in Cincinnati in August 2017. We hope RBI will also allow the girls to play. We are working to verify that this will happen, but are not positive at the moment. We hope to send a junior team to a junior softball tournament in Florida in July 2017. We are also working with the Federation on getting them to join the Uganda Olympic Committee and thus begin to work our way into competing our way into the 2020 Olympics in Baseball and Softball. The Uganda Olympic Committee wants to see baseball and softball as part of its program, but the Federation needs to officially join the Committee and follow its rules. We hope they are smart enough to do that. That would also open the door for Uganda to participate in the 2021 World Baseball Classic. These are just some of things going on.


The AVRS School continues to build. We hosted the Mpige district track meet for the first time. The school came in first and there for represented the district at the National Championships. We sent 14 participants in boys and girls. One of our S3 students ran 100 meters in 11.03 seconds with very little training in track. We definitely have talent at the school, what we do not have is experienced coaches, but we are working on that.


We are proceeding with the building of the arena. It will be completed by March 1, 2017, when we will have a ribbon cutting ceremony. It is one of the best in all of Uganda, if not the best currently. We will be using it starting in December of this year for the students. In any event, we did enter a team in the junior girls basketball program. They went 8-1 and are now scheduled to be in the finals early in October. They just started playing basket ball in May. We have a pretty good coach here and we expect to have the boys playing in the program next year. Our new arena may be the center of many big tournaments in the future, not only for basketball, but volley ball, badminton, and possibly even net ball. We continue to make progress.


During October, we expect to register all our current S4 students to take the SAT exams in early December. This will be the first true test of what our school is doing academically and is extremely important for our students ability to obtain even partial athletic scholarships. The results will be very significant. If the results are good, we will continue. If they are not good, then we will have to reexamine what we are doing. We will know in January 2017.

 

November, 2016

 
As the year is drawing to a close, we continue to make significant progress playing baseball and developing the school. In December, four of the AVRS Secondary School students will be attending the Major League Elite training program in South Africa during the early 10 days. Two of the players are in S4 and are about to turn 16. The other two are in S3 and are about to turn 14 and 15. Are they our best players? Not necessarily. But they are players that the Major League Baseball people responsible for this program invited when they stopped by at the school in July for a couple of hours. Even though they will be among the youngest at this program, we believe they will be making a significant impression on the scouts there. We do know that Cincinnati will be watching very closely one of the players they liked in January of this year when they spent two days watching our young players. He is one of the four selected to go next month.
We have been advised that Major League Baseball will be hosting a continent wide meeting for the heads of the respective African baseball federations in Kampala around the 10th of December. Another item that is beginning to show that Uganda is on its way to becoming the center of African Baseball.

 

On this Saturday, November 11, 2016 the AVRS student team will be playing their last two games of the year in the Uganda adult baseball league supported by a charity based in Japan. This will bring them to a total of 12 games spread over 10 months. If they win both, they are definitely the champs. Right now they are 9 wins and 1 loss where everyone they play is on the average several years older than everyone of our players. We are also the only team that will play two games every time they play as the other teams only play one because they use only one pitcher, where we use at least two pitchers for each game and sometimes three for each game.


We are in the final stages of bringing a team of players from the school to spend about 10 days playing many games here in the U.S. We expect this program to be played in the early part of August 2017, based around the Toms River area of New Jersey. We are also trying to expand that visit to play some RBI teams in the Cincinnati area.


Unfortunately, under the new interpretation of Little League rules, they have declared that the AVRS school will not be allowed to participate in any Little League tournaments since we have students at the school from all over the country. They want us to only allow players from Kampala to play, which we refuse to do as that would be unfair to all the other students from the rest of Uganda. They have little idea about how schools in Uganda operate.


On January 9, 2016 the Little League complex will be hosting the first annual Uganda National Baseball Championship for secondary school teams of S1 and S2 students. We expect in January 2018 to be hosting this tournament and one for the next level up. That is teams of S3 and S4 students. We expect eight to be playing in the double elimination tournament. We expect two games being played starting at 10AM and two games each afternoon at 2PM. The Uganda Commissioner of Sports will cover the transportation costs of the traveling schools and a trophy. Uganda Little League will be housing and feeding all the players and coaches.


Also starting on January 9 will be running our eight annual two week coaches training clinic. We expect around 60 coaches to be attending. The program is by invitation only as Uganda Little League covers every ones housing and feeding costs. All they have to do is come to the complex. This program has been a major contributor to the expansion of baseball in Uganda over the recent years and we expect it to continue to do this in the future.


This year, as the AVRS school starts its' fifth year, two major components are being added to the school program. A young American from the U.S. is coming over as a volunteer to set up a film production school for all our students. In about 6 to 12 months you will be able to see a movie written, produced, directed, acted, edited and distributed by the students of the school. This will be the first film school in Uganda and we hope you will see a number of their productions in the future. They will also be using the new Pavilion where theatrical productions of various play rights will be preformed, possibly including plays written and acted in by the students.


The final touch will be a musical band that will be developed amongst the students starting with the new school year in January. Will it be a marching band? We are going to be working to that as the next step. As we indicated earlier, lots of things are going on.


Keep watching this web site, because we expect to be putting on videos of some of the baseball games, softball games, basketball games and soccer games that are being played at the school. We also expect to post some theatrical productions on the web site. If you would like to assist in some way, we would welcome you to the school.

 


 

January, 2017

 
The start of what may turn out to be a very special year brings a number of significant events in Uganda and at the AVRS Secondary School. As most people already know, we will once again run our two week coach's clinic starting on January 8. Once again, we expect to host only the 60 or so invited baseball and softball coaches to attend. Others will be turned away. What is different about this year clinic is that it will host a double elimination tournament for 8 secondary school all star teams from all over Uganda. The teams will be made up of S1-S2 students who actually are attending their school and will be playing for the Ugandan Sports Commissioner's Trophy. This is the very first tournament of this kind and we are expecting it to rapidly expand in future years. Next year, the plans are for the tournament is add a program for S3-S4 students and we will host next January two National Tournaments. While only eight schools will be coming to the National Championship Tournaments, we expect many schools to begin competing for the title, but they will eventually have to qualify for the National Tournaments by going to and winning regional tournaments. That is the future. Will we get there? We will find out as the years go by.
What is also in the future is what happens to the secondary school girls. We expect to work on their National Tournaments during the year so that we host girls National Championship tournaments each year in the future.


All of this is being done to expand baseball and softball programs to all parts of the country with the goal of producing many very good ball players by the year 2020 to make up a Ugandan Olympic Baseball team and a girls Softball team. The ultimate is to make it to the Tokyo Olympic games of 2020. Is it realistic? Yes. Currently, I believe that the young players of Uganda, meaning those just turning age 16 are some of the best young players in Africa. They are growing and playing which is something that was not being done before. The various programs are beginning to understand that we need to develop young pitchers, hitters and fielders and the only way this is going to happen is by playing many competitive games. Based upon the young players that we are now sending to the MLB South Africa elite camp program, more of those better players are in Uganda than any where else, and Major League Baseball is realizing that. We just need to keep growing and through the Uganda Sports Commissioner's program, many more are going to be developed as the programs expand.


The major plan for this year at the AVRS school is to bring the older boys to the U.S. during the first week of August. We do know that we will bring the team to play about 12 or so games during 7 days in Toms River N.J. They will be playing among the best young U.S. players as a show case for College Coaches who hopefully will consider offering them baseball scholarships to play on their teams at their respective colleges. They are not going to offer any scholarships unless the coaches think they can help their teams win. Will they be good enough? We definitely think some will be, but hopefully all will be. If a couple of players do wind up in getting scholarships as a result of that visit, thousands of students will come out to play on school teams in Uganda. The importance of this trip cannot be appreciated unless you really know what happens in Uganda. In preparation, all our current S4 students are registered to take the SAT exam this January. Those scores will be traveling with the team that comes to New Jersey.


As everyone is aware, Uganda has basically been banned from participating in the Little League Regional Tournament that they would need to play in if they wanted to get to the respective World Series. At least the AVRS school is because we are too good supposedly and would constantly knock European teams from the World Series. Little League cannot afford for that to happen. As far as we are concerned, we will live with that by sending the boys directly to the U.S. for this August show case. The problem is what that does to the girls. We are thus looking for a program where the girls can come to the U.S. directly and compete so college coaches can see them play and possibly result in college scholarships for them. To come 8,000 miles for three days is hard to justify. We would love to come for at least 7 to 10 days of play. We would have no problem playing 3 or 4 games per day and we would have no problem playing one weekend followed by another tournament within a day or two of the first one. If anyone can help us with that, it would be greatly appreciated. Once again, they would all have their SAT scores with them, but would be looking for full scholarships for athletics, or for half athletics and half academic.


To help with our senior players, we are now instituting a film making program at the school. One of the side benefits of this program is the ability to film our students during our games at the school. We are trying to set up a program where we will be able to put clips of our players on the Internet and have athletic coaches at the colleges see them in action via these clips. This is what has been going on in recruiting athletes for a number of years, and it is time for us to try doing it also. We intend to do this in baseball, softball, soccer and running to start. We will eventually expand as our playing ability increases in volley ball, basketball and possibly other sports.


One of our friends of the girls team that went to the Little League World Series in Portland, Oregon in 2015 got married awhile back. It seems her husband works for a company that matches donations made to legally organized charities. While 303 Development Foundation Corp has been legally organized and compliant with all the laws since 2007, we are now officially registered with an organization that coordinates companies that match donations with charities registered with them. As of early December, 303 Development is now registered. If anyone knows of anyone working for a company that matches charitable donations, please let them know about us and hopefully they will support us in what we are doing.


On January 23, the AVRS school starts is fifth year of existence. This year sees the opening of the new arena for basketball, volley ball, badminton, performing arts, the start of a band program and a very large enclosed area for all kinds of events. The building obviously has a full stage for plays, dance, music concerts, and other activities. But what is also interesting is that it is expected to be the home for the Ugandan National Basketball team. The building has offices, a VIP box, and has two full size basketball courts. It is now known as the Pavilion. We will get pictures of the total finished building and of the ribbon cutting when it takes place in March.

 

March, 2017

 
As most people are aware, the National Championship for the S1-S2 program was held at the school on January 9 thru 13. We also ran our coaches tournament at the same time and beyond. The coaches were there from the early morning of January 9 thru January 20. We had the help of three long time assistants who help run the coaches clinic and coordinate the umpiring for the tournament. Two come from Canada and one from the U.S. It ran very well, including the end of clinic party that was held on Thursday evening, January 19, followed by the championship game between the two top coaches teams on Friday morning. We had our usual sixty coaches for the coaches clinic.


The championship tournament had eight teams. Several other teams were eliminated via regional tournaments. It was a double elimination tournament, but everyone played each of the four days regardless of their records. Two games were held at 10 in the morning and two at 2 in the afternoon. There were probably 5 very competitive teams at the tournament and three teams that were somewhat weaker. The top team was Luwero. They went through the tournament undefeated, but the games they played against AVRS and Lugazi were highly competitive in which anyone could have won. Since they played AVRS on Tuesday, that meant AVRS had to come our of the losers bracket by beating Lira on Wednesday and then Beating Soroti on Thursday morning and then beating Lugazi on Thursday afternoon. AVRS lost the afternoon game to Lugazi in the bottom of the eighth inning when they scored to break the tie. On Friday morning, Luwero broke a tie in the bottom of the next to last inning to walk away with the trophy supplied by the Uganda Sport Commissioner.


The tournament used pitch counts for all games. We allowed a strict limit of no more than 30 pitches, that person could pitch every day, 55 pitches required one days rest. 70 pitches required two days rest and or less required 3 days rest. 100 pitches and you were done for the day and for the next four days as a pitcher. It was strictly enforced during the entire tournament.


It was agreed by all the coaches present to work on expanding the program to the next level of S3-S4 students. Thus, next year we planning on hosting two National Championship tournaments. A committee of coaches was formed to set up some rules for these tournaments, especially regarding eligibility regarding age. In Uganda, even though you go to a government school, if you do not have money for books, uniform and some lunch money, you do not go to school until you have the money to pick up at the level you missed. Thus, it is possible to have a 17 or 18 year old in S1 where most students are 12 or 13. Thus the need for some kind of agreement. No one wants 17 or 18 year olds playing with 12 or 13 year olds.


Future:

 

Good and Bad. First the good. The AVRS school has been invited to send a team of our older players to come to the U.S. late July to early August. This will allow the team to play as part of Major League Baseball's RBI program in Cincinnati and also in the Black Sox Foundation program in Toms River New Jersey. We will bring 12 to 15 players with two or three coaches. We must arrive in Cincinnati by the evening of July 30. On the following three days, we will be expecting to play five games against other RBI teams competing in the RBI Championship Tournament. We will also have the opportunity to see a Cincinnati Major League Game during the evenings. On Thursday, we will travel to New Jersey where we will expect to be playing two games a day for seven days starting on the Saturday and going through to the following Friday, August 11. That weekend, we may be playing other RBI teams from Newark NJ and/or Philadelphia, possibly in the Trenton Thunder home Stadium. Those last two days are yet to worked out. The team will travel back to Uganda starting on the afternoon of August 14. We hope that these players will be seen by many college coaches and may be offered college scholarships to play at U.S. colleges. The players will have with them their SAT scores from the exams that they have taken earlier this year. Once again, or goal was to get at least half athletic and half academic to make a whole scholarship. If we get one, our past efforts will have been well worth it. If we get three and four scholarship offers, all I can say is "WOW"


During this trip, the young lady who is teaching film making and performing arts at the AVRS school will be traveling with the team with the goal of making a television documentary movie of the entire trip. That would make this trip very significant.


The bad part of what has happened in Uganda is the opportunity that I believe is being missed by the Uganda Baseball and Softball Federation (UBSA). There is an international girls under 19 softball tournament being held the last week of July in Clearwater, Florida. It required a $3000 deposit to be sent to them by February 28. AVRS girls softball team, even though they are no older than 14 and 15 years old, has beaten every softball team, regardless of age, who have been willing to play them over the past 2 years. They are without a doubt the best. If Uganda was to be represented in this program, they would have to represent Uganda and thus have the okay of UBSA. AVRS, since any Uganda softball team would be composed of mostly, if not all of the girls from the school, offered to pay all the expenses to get to this tournament and back. The cost of visas, airfare and hotels and meals was expected to exceed $30,000. The problem came about when UBSA decided that the AVRS female coaches could not go as part of the team and UBSA insisted to put in a male coach and two other strangers to coach this team. AVRS absolutely refuses to allow a Ugandan male coach to travel with these girls. None of these UBSA coaches ever had a team that won any competitive games in their life. The AVRS female coaches took the team when age 13 to win the Little League Regional Tournament in Poland in 2015 and also to the World Series in Portland, Oregon, where they became the only team from Europe or Africa to ever beat a US regional champion. They are the best softball coaches in Uganda and know all the girls and their ability. Thus trying to force coaches, especially a male coach who has never met the AVRS girls to suddenly become their coach is ridiculous. AVRS's offer to pay for the entire trip was thus rescinded, and thus, Uganda will probably not be represented at this July tournament. The major loses in this are the AVRS girl softball players as they will not have the chance to be seen by college coaches via this tournament.


We are now looking to bring this girls team to the U.S. to get them seen by college coaches. They would be eligible for college scholarships just as the boys are as they have also taken the SAT exam this year. If anyone can put together a program where we could play a tournament on one three day weekend and then the following weekend in the U.S., please let us know via this web site. It is only worth it if the girls can spend a full week playing games to come to the U.S. Not playing on a Monday thru Thursday may not be ideal, but if that is the only way to get seen by college coaches, then we would be willing to do it.

 

May, 2017

 
We now enter a busy time of year for the baseball/softball program at the Uganda Little League complex. Starting on May 6, the boys 11-12 year old championship for Uganda Little League will be decided by our annual eight team double elimination tournament. On May 12, we will do the same for the girls with eight teams being at the complex to contest for the 11-12 year old Uganda Little League girls championship via a double elimination tournament. All the Little League rules will be enforced regarding pitch limits and play requirements. The unfortunate thing about these two tournaments is that the winners are banned from participating in the formal Little League regional tournaments that lead to the respective World Series, thus the teams can only play for the Uganda title and can go no further. In our opinion, it comes down to sponsor money, or the fact that Little League International will lose European sponsorship if Africa keeps representing the Europe/Africa region. This is why we have been fighting for now over 10 years to get Little League International to have Africa as its own region with a regional tournament with the winners going to the respective World Series. According to Little League International, there are now many African countries participating in Little League, but none go to the European/Africa Regional Tournament.


On May 18, we will host two four team tournaments for the older players of both boys and girls. We have invited the so called best teams of each gender to round out two four team tournaments where each team will be playing two games a day for the first two with a championship game on the third day for boys and for girls. That means for May 18 and 19, there will be four games going on at the same time in the morning and also in the afternoon. The Little League complex in Uganda is the place to be to see softball or baseball on those two days.  On May 20, you are going to have to decide which championship game you want to see as both will be played at 10AM on that morning. For the first two days, we are going to have some busy umpires.


Early in June, we have an appointment at the U.S. Embassy to appear for the interview part of the U.S. visa application. This involves 14 players amongst our older boys. They are arriving in the U.S. early on July 30 in Philadelphia from where they will bus on to Cincinnati, arriving that evening. Why Philadelphia? Because the plane leaving Uganda that we could have possibly taken to Detroit via Amsterdam and bus down, had no more room for our traveling party of 19 as of early March. Booking groups out of Uganda during our summer is not always easy which we had learned several years ago. The boys expect to play a single game on the Monday in Cincinnati, two on Tuesday and two on Wednesday with teams playing in the RBI tournament. They will then bus to Toms River N.J. on Thursday where they expect to be playing two games per day from Saturday thru Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, August 11 and 12, they will be playing teams in Philadelphia before flying home on Monday, August 14. What is currently up in the air is what happens on Friday, August 4. We are trying to set up a showcase soccer demonstration as all these boys are also excellent soccer players and we are looking for athletic scholarships to any college or university to get them a good education and give them an opportunity to play under good coaching to hopefully enhance their skills.


The trip to the U.S. is very significant in several ways. Should some players be offered a full scholarship via entirely athletic or half athletic and half academic, that would have a huge impact on the number of students who would want to get to schools that offer a baseball program for students where they can develop their skills to possibly obtain college scholarships knowing that it is possible. We want to do the same thing for the girls in Uganda via softball or soccer or running.

 

The talent is in Uganda, the programs for the young participants are not there and we are working very hard to get a formal program working through the Uganda Commissioner of Sports and the Uganda Ministry of Education and Sports to develop these programs in the secondary schools. Major League Baseball recognizes that there is great potential for talented players coming from Uganda, but the youth programs need to be put in place to develop the young talent. Thus, if this team puts on a great performance via these showcase events in Cincinnati, New Jersey and Philadelphia, we may really kick start this program.


Mr. Bennett Shields of the Major League youth program is working very close with us on the team coming to the U.S. While we have been part of the RBI program for over two years, we have not been invited to participate in their annual tournaments for boys 18 and under, 15 and under and girls softball for 18 and under. The major problem that currently exists, no international teams are allowed to participate. Will this change? We are working on it for 2018. What we would like to see is a tournament like the Williamsport Pa. Little League Tournament. That is a six to eight team U.S. tournament and at the same time a six to eight team International Tournament, with the winners playing for the World Championship. This now fills an opening Little League has given to the RBI program since they have dropped their 18 and under tournaments for both boys and girls

 

 


 

The Trenton Thunder supplied the hats and shirts that the team wore in Poland.  The Trenton team was rooting for them to win so that they could come to the U.S. and visit the Trenton stadium and be introduced to the media and the crowd at a Trenton Thunder ball game.   Uganda would have been the first African Little League team to make it to the Little League World Series in its almost 80 year history.
 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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