Thursday, November 17, 2016

Opportunities for Expansion in Africa: John Ssentamu’s Trip to Kenya

By John Ssentamu

On Sept. 31, 2016, I started my journey to Kenya from Uganda for a sports leadership training in Rapids Camp in Sagana, a small town about 100 kilometers north of Nairobi. Since it was focused on how to start and run community sports teams, it was an opportunity for me to discuss quidditch with the other African sports leaders that had gathered there.
John Ssentamu | Photo Credit: Marijo Silva Photography

The hosts had a clear program for us each day from Oct. 1-7, but that didn’t stop me from discussing with the group why quidditch is interesting and worthy of being involved in. I was given opportunities to both meet with people individually and also talk to them as an audience. I gave reasons why they should consider quidditch and emphasized it being a new, mixed-gender sport involving skills of football, netball, basketball, etc. all on the same pitch. It is the only sport that has such a unique flavor.

The people gathered that week in Sagana were from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Although it was a Christian-based gathering, and the Christian community in Africa generally isn’t a proponent of mixed-gender activities, this never stopped me from discussing quidditch with ease with all of the participants. They all loved it, though some struggled to pronounce the word and many asked me which language it is from.

I can convincingly say that all sports leaders I talked to expressed interest in working together to see how they can introduce quidditch in their areas. A fellow Ugandan, whom I met on the bus to Kenya, loved the sport and asked me to work with him to introduce it in his region.

In my individual talks, I was encouraged by a delegate from Malawi, Samuel Mayuni, who is the general secretary of the Malawi Paralympics and pledged to keep in touch to see how they can include quidditch on their sports menu. Another person I talked with, Bishop Enock from Kenya, suggested that in time, we should think of coming up with an organization to bring together all African countries with quidditch to plan how to best run quidditch.

Meanwhile, Derrick Banda from Zambia expressed worry about the uniqueness of equipment used to play the game. He asked about finding ways of getting the tools to start the sport. He suggested that we may need to come up with a funding strategy to enable me to get equipment and travel funds to reach their countries for the training.

The only unfortunate part of the week was that I was not able to play the demonstration game as I had wanted because I couldn’t get materials there for the exhibition game and there was little free time.

All in all, it was a great experience and I want to thank the organizers of the gathering, World Sports Ministries from the UK, for the invitation and providing me the opportunity to share quidditch.

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