For me, December has always been a month to reflect, thank, and give. This month I will take my second trip to Africa with Fields of Dreams Uganda - a non-profit organization that seeks to provide hope to the orphaned and vulnerable children of Uganda through the vehicles of soccer and education. I have been involved with this cause since 2012, and have served as a volunteer member of the Board of Directors since 2014. My first trip to Uganda was in 2015 and since then I have been counting down the days until I get to return to this vibrant country.
The work of Fields of Dreams Uganda (FoDU) powerfully resonates with me as I am a firm believer in utilizing the platform I have had as a college coach and now a club director for bigger things than just teaching technique and tactics. Sports provide an invaluable stage to learn camaraderie, teamwork, cooperation, perseverance, and hard work - to only name a few. The children that we sponsor (over 6,000 in the Kampala and Gulu regions) live and breathe soccer. Sport is a powerful outlet for them to escape the realities of their difficult day-to-day lives and to simply be kids! And, they are in desperate need of structure and hope due to the devastating effects that civil war, the AIDS epidemic, and poverty have inflicted on their country.
During my 10 days in Uganda, our team will oversee the Hope Cup - a tournament sponsored by FoDU that brings in 32 teams across four age groups (U10, U12, U16, and U20) together for spirited competition. Each age group will include one of our own FoDU teams as well as seven other clubs, academies, and orphanages who will be competing for the Hope Cup title. Not only do we get to interact and coach these players on the field, but time off the field is even more impactful. Engaging these young men and women in conversation about their upbringing, families (or lack thereof), challenges, and ambitions is by far the highlight of our time there. There is so much hope and promise in these children, yet they come from so little.
Aside from the Hope Cup we will have a chance to visit several of our partner schools (we have nine total) and workshop with our Youth Council, which is a group of a dozen young men and women who have shown promise in our programs and serve as role models for our younger children.
Throughout my travels, I will be sending periodic updates and photos from Uganda in hopes to share the work being done and showcase the love of the "beautiful game" from across the globe. If you are interested in learning more about the work that Fields of Dreams Uganda does, or how you can get involved, please visit www.fieldsofdreamsuganda.org
For the Good of the Game,