The Beautiful Game in Uganda


Athletic competition is an important part of most cultures worldwide. The popularity of such events as the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup testify to the power of these games to inspire and unite us. Now, in the second week of our “I AM Building Tomorrow” campaign, we have chosen to explore the culture of the communities with which we work. Football (American soccer) is widely considered to be the most-watched sport on earth. In Uganda this is no exception. Players are revered, and children learn the game at a very young age. Football is very much ingrained as a part of Ugandan culture, and the Uganda National Football team has a permanent place in the public eye.

David Obua (center) - photo credit: The New Vision, UgandaThe Uganda National Football team is nicknamed ‘The Cranes’ for the bird which is proudly displayed on the Ugandan flag, and plays in the country colors – black, yellow, and red. Though the Cranes, ranked 86th in the world, have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup tournament, the team does have quite an impressive history in the African Cup of Nations, placing fourth in 1962 and second in 1978. In addition, they are the 11 time champions of the CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup – the oldest football tournament in Africa, and have continued to make a name for themselves in recent years. For the upcoming 2012 Africa Cup of Nations tournament, the 34 man Ugandan squad leads Group J with 10 points and is poised to move on into the next round.

One of the star players for the Uganda National Football Team is David Obua. At an imposing 6 feet tall, he is an impressive player who has been a member of the national team for many years. Though he fills the role of a defender for Uganda, Obua plays as a striker for the Scottish Premier League, the Heart of Midlothian (the Hearts) during the regular season. And before finding success with the Hearts, he played for Kaizer Chiefs FC in South Africa – a team with an estimated 16 million supporters. With this type of experience, Obua recognizes what it takes to be successful as a team, and he is confident that this year the Uganda National team has just that. So keep an eye out for those Ugandan footballers who promise to make an impression in 2012.

shirts v. skins soccer match at the BT Academy of GitaObua told FIFA, “We have a close knit group and the boys work really tirelessly…and that’s the most important thing. If you put self-belief in them, they play really well.” Obua embodies the ideals that we here at Building Tomorrow believe it; that every child can reach their full potential if they only learn to have confidence in themselves.

Though we won’t take sides for one football club or another, we do stand by play as an important thing for happy kids and a well-rounded education. That is why, in addition to the 7 classrooms, every BT academy includes a field where students can engage in the popular game or any number of activities that they might be drawn to. We build schools so that we can help young students be opened to all the possibilities in the world and pursue their dreams with the confidence and skills acquired through education. Our students may very well grow up to become doctors, teachers, or the next big soccer star.

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