Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Game Day…..Play Ball!

This story begins in July of 2011 when the Ugandan Little League team made history by being the first African team to win a place in the Little League World Series. The team knocked out Saudi Arabia to win the Middle East/Africa Division for 11 & 12 year olds.  The team was ecstatic about their upcoming journey to the Little League World Series in Williamsport Pennsylvania in August 2011.  Two weeks before the tournament and their first scheduled game which was to be played against the Canadian champs from Langley, British Columbia, little hearts and dreams were crushed when they found out that their visas to the United States had been denied for reasons of insufficient birth documentation.

Out of this adversity the Canada-Uganda Pearl of Africa Baseball Series was born.  The idea was to raise enough money for the Langley Little Leaguers to travel to Uganda to play the game that should have taken place months earlier in the United States.  So fundraising began and on Saturday January 14th, the Canadian team landed on Ugandan soil for the Canada - Uganda Pearl of Africa Series.  Today was game day, it was time to “play ball”!  Under the heat of the African sun the crowd of several hundred gathered.  The ceremonial pitch was thrown by Ruth Hoffman and then it was batter up! The Canadian team was first up to bat and the Ugandan team got onto the score board early with 1 run, ending the first inning in a 1-0 lead for Uganda. 

The second inning saw a couple of nice hits, Canadian Yi-An Pan #11 had a single in the top of the inning and  Uganda’s Jonathan Kizza #3 hit one out in the field for a triple.  With two outs for Uganda, Felix Barugahare #2 tried to steal a base and was caught out ending the inning. 

In the third inning Canadian Yi-Fan Pan #33 hit a beauty for a triple but by the end of the inning the score was still at 1-0 for Uganda. The real excitement was saved for the sixth inning when Canada went up for their last bat and got a run in to tie the game up to 1-1.  The Ugandan team wasn’t going to give up that easy and Felix Burugahare #2 hit a single and was safe on first.  Burugahare with the support of his team got himself to third base and with two outs, was desperate to get home. Augustus Owinyi #1 hit a single for the rbi and the walk off home run.  As Burugahare crossed the plate the Ugandan team and their fans erupted with cheers.  They were jubilant about their win and blew their vuvuzelas as they ran onto the field to congratulate the team.

The final score was Uganda 2 – Canada 1

It was an exciting game indeed and both teams played well.  The teams shook hands and then were all awarded medals to commemorate the day and the game that will be remembered for a long time.  As Canadians living in Uganda, it was exciting to watch a live baseball game, especially with a team from our hometown.  It is an event that we will remember forever.  Congratulations to all the players, coaches, umpires and their families as well as the organizers, sponsors and donors for a job well done!

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