If there’s one thing we’ve learned about working with children over the past five years in rural Uganda, it’s that kids love soccer. When everything else seems so unfair or uneven in a community that has abundant need, a game of soccer can be a way to level the playing field. A simple game played with a single piece of equipment (a ball) has the power to bring together people from different backgrounds, beliefs, tribes and cultures to achieve a common “goal”.
This past July, Far Away Friends partnered with Charity Ball to hand-deliver 24 soccer balls to kids in Namasale, Uganda where we work to alleviate education poverty by supporting schools in rural communities.
Our first stop in Namasale was the school that we opened in 2016, Global Leaders Primary School (GLP). Our team was warmly welcomed by our fifteen-member Administration, Teaching and non-Teaching staff who were excited to hear about our latest partnership with Charity Ball. They’d been busy planning GLP’s very first official soccer game against Namasale Central Primary School (another primary school located outside of the village in town) who they’d invited to play on our unfinished and thorny (but large!) pitch.
As our team began unpacking soccer balls one after another, our teaching staff (most notably Teacher, Sebastian, who has a deep love for soccer as a means of teaching teamwork, empathy and trust) were completely in awe. The look on their faces was something we’ll be sure not to forget for years to come.
We’d decided that we would keep several of the balls at GLP. The rest would be brought to the kids at the neighboring primary and secondary schools, and given as a gift to extend a hand of friendship. Next year, we plan to launch a program through which we will be able to support the needs and development of more schools in the Namasale area. The ability to gift a soccer ball to the kids at the schools we hope to work with, as a symbol of our future partnership, was an invaluable asset to our organization.
The day of GLP’s soccer match was one of our proudest days as an organization. Watching the students come alive and fearlessly compete against an established, (physically superior) across town team was an incredible experience.
For the last half of the game, we decided to do away with the tattered ball we’d been using and introduce one of the new soccer balls from Charity Ball. At this point of the game GLP was tied with Namasale Central 1-1. As if our own Charity Ball brought us good luck, our team scored two consecutive goals and won our very first soccer game against another school. After the final whistle, our entire staff — Ugandan AND American — stormed the field, hugging our students and screaming victory songs in the local language.