African urban soccer
August 18, 2015.
Uganda day 8: Part of me wanted to stay much longer and experience more of what the "Pearl of Africa had to offer, however, another part of me longed for some basic first-world amenities that I had taken for granted, like simple driving laws and practices for example. We were approaching the last days of our trip; only two more to go from here. We were far from being done.
Even though we were forced to break off from our friend "Tank" due to some medical issues, we continued on and found a spot to crash for the night. It was hotel that was owned and operated by some of Tank's friends, one of them a commonly known Kampalan singer. This particular hotel rests high upon a steep hill- a hill lined with large houses that had three meter walls accompanied with razor wire to protect the property. This was a wealthy hill apparently. Once at the top, we reach our destination. A decent looking hotel with an incredible view of the whole city. This lovely hotel also happened to be the Consulate of Pakistan, which Deven and I found amusing.
At the bottom of the hill, there is a patchy field that serves as a soccer pitch for the locals. The field has five trees sticking out of it but they didn't seem to mind. There were around 20 kids playing a match as we walked by.
We had planned about two to three hours of exploring the hill of Muyenga. We walked a few miles, passed up multiple side road restaurants businesses, found another huge rock quarry, and eventually walked a giant circle back to the soccer field.
There was a match going on when we arrived. I got out my camera and headed towards one of the large trees bulging out of the field, and took cover while I began to shoot. There was a boy in a yellow uniform that stood out. I forget his name but I remember that he and his father came from Madagascar. He and some of his buddies were all decked out in soccer gear, but a few were playing in what they wore on a daily basis. They didn't seem to mind me; they were more amazed to see some random mazungus (white men) somewhere you normally wouldn't. It was crazy! These kids were playing balls to the wall, pushing 100% it seemed. Some were fortunate enough to have shoes, while others played in sandals, or barefoot for that matter.
I snapped and snapped for about 30 minutes until their scrimmage had ended, and that's when I saw the coach overseeing the practice. I asked Coach "Charlie" if I could continue shooting and he nodded with a smile. Charlie blew his high pitched whistle- the one that all coaches have- and signaled for everyone to come together and stretch. After a few stretches, the circle held hands and gathered in prayer.
After the prayer, some of the kids came over to Deven and I, curious and out of breath. We gave them our only water bottles and began to chat. They explained that now the men were going to practice for a big game the following day. I was excited to see how these guys played, but they were just doing drills today and no scrimmage. We made ourselves scarce after ten minutes of shooting because we didn't want to distract the athletes. I thanked Charlie again for allowing me to photograph their session. He invited us to watch the match the next day, but we had made other plans so we missed it. Oh well, you can't win them all...