Uganda entered the Schwan's USA CUP with a U11 boys' team for the first time ever. While the journey was long and some players didn't receive their passports due to the state shutdown, for the Uganda Edgars Youth Programme (EYP) team that were able to make the trip, it was a time to remember.
Edgars Youth Programme from Uganda
EYP has participated in several World Youth tournaments including the Gothia World Youth tournament in Sweden in 2008 and 2009 and the UK Welsh Super Cup in 2009 and 2010. EYP has even traveled to Norway in 2010 to take part in the Norway Cup. Uganda's EYP mission is to provide opportunity to youth using sports and believes every child should be given the opportunity to play soccer. They want to help give back to in appreciation to those who have helped them gain success.
Participating in two previous games at the USA CUP on Tuesday, the Uganda EYP dropped games one and two. Bouncing back from their two losses, EYP played the Minnesota North Metro Fury on Wednesday. EYP would go on to win with a score of 5-1. Uganda had many smiling faces on the players, families and home stay parents. Joining the Uganda team this year were three guest players from Forest Lake and one guest player from Minnesota Thunder Academy.
"This is my first time to America and Minnesota," said player Lydia Alaba. "I've been playing soccer since 1st grade. My coach is nice and I like the way people study hard in Minnesota. I liked the skydivers yesterday at opening ceremony," Alaba smiled.
Nakkazi Prossie, a traveling parent with the team, works as a medical assistant and fan. "I help give medication to the kids and this is also my first time to America. America has been very good to us and helped our kids out a lot," said Prossie.
The Uganda team split up and homestayed in three different houses. "This is my sixth year of being a host and it is absolutely wonderful," said Julie Miller, homestay host. "I have hosted Japan, Equador, Denmark, Uganda and Northern Ireland before. My sons wanted to host another team this year and they really enjoyed meeting new the kids. The Uganda families have been nice and so great. The Edgars Youth Programme has been trying to build their club because they know sports will help get their kids to universities."
Tamela Greene and her son Jason Greene are hosting four children from the team. This is their first year being involved with the process. "A typical day involves a lot of soccer. The opportunity has been good. It's a great experience for their kids and our kids to learn about another culture," said Tamela. "We have taught them about McDonald's and ever since the kids have found out about the Chicken McNugget happy meal, they have fallen in love. We've been to McDonald's three times already since they've arrived."
"When we get some extra time it's fun to play the Wii and Playstation," said Jason Greene. Jason is on the Edina Soccer Club and is also participating in USA CUP. "Adding more kids to our week and having someone to play soccer with is an experience you don't usually get. Not to mention cheering for two teams-you don't normally get that experience. I would recommend homestay and we'd love to do it again. I would love to have the Uganda team participate again."
Christy Wagner and her son Tommy are the third set of homestay families who have taken Uganda under their wing. "This is also our first year and it has been great. All three of the players staying with us have been very sweet. Adding in our two daughters and Tommy, it's been a little crowded but such a wonderful experience. My husband and I are used to the commotion as we have been boarding school teachers and we used to teach on the east coast. This has a very similar feeling to it."
Just like Jason, Christy's son Tommy is also on the Edina Soccer Club. "We've done team picnics and have adopted together. At such a big event it's neat to watch the kids be very welcoming towards each other. We had a great day last Monday the Edina team and Uganda met at the Mall of America. The kids shared their experiences which travel way beyond soccer. I hope Uganda gets the chance to come back to USA CUP in the future," said Christy.
Coach Peter Makanga has brought positive affirmation to his team.During halftime he stated, "Just continue to play your game. No pressure." Makenga has played from 2000-2008 on the Uganda International team as a defensive left side. He has played against World Cup finalists and is hoping to re-qualify for the Uganda Cranes team again.
Speaking about the team's travel journey he stated, "My team has made a very long journey and the players have become tired. The weather was so hot and playing three games in one day was hard. However, they pulled together and played. The overall first time experience has been so positive. This is a lively group of players and host families."
"Everyone has been very good to us-words can't explain it. We wish next year to be hosted again. While the weather was challenging, playing with a few American guest players has been a good experience to take on. The players have been getting used to the soccer so that maybe when the time comes to move onto a higher level, they will be ready," smiled Makanga. Uganda will play their Thursday game against EPSC Explosion at 8:45 a.m. on field A5.
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Tag(s): July 21, 2011