Coach boosts Ugandan baseball

2018-05-29 06:00
Local coach Connor Walsh visiting the village of Nansana to provide training and distribute much-needed equipment to the Ashinaga Baseball and Softball Club.

Local coach Connor Walsh visiting the village of Nansana to provide training and distribute much-needed equipment to the Ashinaga Baseball and Softball Club.

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Local non-profit organisation Play Sport4Life (PS4L) recently sent its coach to Uganda to help spread knowledge of and love for baseball and softball.

Connor Walsh, the coach of local baseball team Maitland Giants, flew to the East African country on Thursday 17 May on a four-day visit. He says baseball is a developing sport in Uganda, having been played for about 30 years as opposed to more than 100 years in South Africa.

The Ugandan Baseball and Softball Coaches Body (UBASCB) arranged Walsh’s four-day itinerary, which included several coaching clinics and a training session with Uganda’s national team.

Walsh has played and coached in the United States, Australia, and Asia. He has since settled and started a family in Cape Town, where he is attached to PS4L’s coaching and mentoring panel.

“PS4L was generous enough to sponsor my trip and provide me with much-needed equipment – gloves, bats, balls, and helmets – to distribute in the schools and remote villages around Kampala, where baseball and softball are getting growing support,” Walsh says.

PS4L is a non-profit organisation operating in the Kensington, Factreton and Maitland areas. It was established to provide opportunities for children, youth and adults to participate in sport, and in so doing, help them become healthier, more responsible citizens in their community.

“Baseball equipment is expensive and hard to come by in East Africa, despite the keen interest in the sport,” says Walsh.

He visited Kitebi Primary School in Kampala, where young baseball and softball players were eager to meet and play. He held a full-day programme in the rain, going through the basic throwing, fielding and hitting mechanics of the game for everyone.

He conducted clinics in the poorer areas of Kampala and travelled to outlying villages where the game is beginning to gain a foothold. “I was astounded at the kindness of these people who had so little. Everywhere I went there was an immediate bond and friendship created through the game of baseball,” Walsh says.

The day before he left Uganda, Walsh had the opportunity of a lifetime. The Ugandan national baseball team arranged a training day for him to attend.

“Players travelled from all over the country to meet at the national stadium in Gayaza for the occasion, such is the passion for this growing sport,” Walsh says. “There were some exceptionally talented players on the field who had played competitively in many countries.”

Walsh’s training clinic with the players involved passing on tips and pointers.

The head of PS4L, Miles October, says the organisation’s commitment to social upliftment through sport isn’t limited to its base in Cape Town.

“We saw an opportunity with Connor’s trip to help the game there, and through it help a community, and we took it,” October says.

“There are needy communities here in Cape Town that we help. Sometimes, though, there are others who need it more.”V For more information, call Connor Walsh on 021 461 4436 or visit www.playsport4life.org.

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