With the help of Canadian mentor, ball hockey breaks ground in Uganda

Originally posted at: https://www.ugandapartners.org/2020/03/with-the-help-of-canadian-mentor-ball-hockey-breaks-ground-in-uganda/

Mar
30

Ball Hockey team during training at the Uganda Christian University sports field
Ball Hockey team during training at the Uganda Christian University sports field

By Maxy Abenaitwe

Africans take pride in their cultural roots. For Ugandan Amon Matthew, the curiosity for other cultures has always been equally as strong. That inquisitiveness found an eight-year-old Matthew playing ball hockey, a sport more common to Canada.  He played it on the Uganda Christian University (UCU) Mukono campus with the children of a Canadian couple, journalist Thom Froese and medical doctor, Jean Chamberlain Froese, founder of the UCU Save the Mothers program.

Now age 22 and captain of the UCU Ball Hockey Team that in March 2020 had no name, Matthew recalled his addiction to “the most beautiful and interesting thing” he had learned. Referring to the ball hockey sport, he added, “Out of love for the game, I put my all.”

Uganda Ball Hockey will forever be grateful to Froese for building the first playground at the UCU staff quarters. Now, Matthew has taken over the ball hockey team reins from the Canadian founder.

“At that point, I realized I had been left with a huge task ahead of me, considering the fact that I was young and still in secondary school,” Matthew said. Part of taking his leadership role seriously involved missing his high school sports activities. When students questioned his absence, he replied with two words – ball hockey – and then had to explain what that was.

Ice hockey is synonymous with Canada.  When the ball hockey sport evolved by replacing an ice puck with a tennis ball in the 19th century, ball hockey became elevated in popularity in this North American country. Rules between hockey on ice and other surfaces vary but all involve using sticks to move an object toward a goal.

Matthew’s excitement about the sport became contagious for other Ugandan youth. There were teams and games – first informally among young men and then formally with Matthew’s persuasion to places like the Baroda International Vocational Institute in Mukono and UCU.

By 2018 and armed with videos and enthusiasm, Matthew approached the Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports. He also visited the National Council for Sports, and met with a representative of the Uganda Hockey Association and the Mukono Municipality Mayor, George Fred Kagimu, who had watched the game in Sweden. With some coaching, ball hockey moved from an association to a federation.

Barriers were largely financial – lack of equipment, including the ability to buy hockey sticks at 50,000 UGX ($15) each; and no uniforms. Matthew sought and received foreign support from the London Ball Hockey Association in Canada, International Street Ball Hockey Federation and World Ball Hockey Federation.

Ambitious Matthew sees Uganda taking part in the 2021 World Championship Events. Additionally, Matthew is organizing a national tournament of the UCU juniors and men’s teams.

“With or without Ugandan government, we can still go on,” he said. “We are moving on and growing. No matter what, we shall get there.”

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To support Uganda Christian University programs, students, activities and services, go to www.ugandapartners.org and click on the “donate” button, or contact UCU Partners Executive Director, Mark Bartels, at m.t.bartels@ugandapartners.org.

The post With the help of Canadian mentor, ball hockey breaks ground in Uganda appeared first on Uganda Christian University Partners.

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