Everyone likes to root for winners. Yet, as a Furman Alumnus and die-hard Cub and Bear fan, I have learned to root as much for next year as the current one.
This is not the case with Christ School. Our boys team rolled through the district regular season with a record of 4-1. As we entered the District tournament I was a bit skeptical. Last season we had a great team, but a poor choice of field for the tournament and questionable refereeing led to a frustrating defeat. In the defeat, our boys held their composure despite unbelievable taunting on the field by opposing teams and fans. I was proud of them and weary of corruption.
This is year was a different story. We beat our rival Symbia in the Semi-Finals on their own turf and then defeated Nyahuka Parents, the team that beat us in our first game 4-1 in the championship. We were elated.
As district champions, we advanced to the Regional tournament in Fort Portal. Travelling to another area, seeing other schools, competing on a bigger level is a wonderful character-building step for these kids. To my knowledge, Christ School has only won one game out of our district in our 14-year history. When the coach texted me with the news that our boys won their first game, we cheered so loudly, I am sure they heard us over the mountain. They went on to win three of four games and advanced to the National Tournament on the other side of Uganda in Tororo!!!
The girls have matched the boys stride for stride. We had our second district tournament this year with 6 schools competing. We won the district last year by default because the boys rioted during the championship and disrupted the play. A political riot erupted in the host city of the Nationals and the girls were forced to stay home.
This is not the case this year! The girls tournament went well and our girls won the district championship. The National tournament is being played in Fort Portal and Amy and I travelled to see them. We found them on the field preparing for the first match. They were so proud and giggly. We took some photos and then Amy and I went off to the local market and splurged as Soccer mom and dad to buy drinks, apples and biscuits for each of the girls. We arrived just in time to see kick off. The ground was flooded- being rainy season. The game was not delayed; again it is rainy season so what’s the point? The opposing team was head and shoulders taller than our girls. Our girls were not intimidated and played their hearts out. There were a few that tip-toed through the mud-puddles, but we have a couple that could run circles around some of the boys with their ball-handling skills.
Amy and I cheered as loudly as we could. Somehow a few of the water bottles we bought for the girls ended up in the hands of a couple of local people. When they found out it was our water and we were from just over the mountain, they rallied the whole crowd to cheer for our team. We scored twice in the second half to lead 2-1. Amy and I nearly tore our hair out as we watched the clock slowly countdown. With two minutes left, the opposing team took the ball into our goal box and kicked a hard shot across the goal. Our keeper made an amazing save. Another opposing player kicked the ricocheted ball back toward the goal and it was miraculously stopped in the water of a mud-puddle. For a second, all the girls looked at the ball and each other- debating who was willing to get muddy. One of ours stepped in, cleared the ball and a few seconds later the whistle blew ending the game. So much fun!
I love our students, I love winning and I am growing into being an avid Football fan. The sport has done wonders for building community at our school and our relationship with people in the Bundibugyo community. Mostly, it has helped us raise leaders from our students. When I look at the alumni who are now working as CSB teachers, the ones who have started a new primary school in an underserved village, the ones who are advocating through self-started NGO’s for the abused and motherless…these were students who played football.
I have to admit that winning can be costly. We run a shoestring budget at our school, so this is a shameless request for money to send the students to the national tournaments. We used money that was budgeted for next term’s operating costs to get the students to the tournament. Now we need to replace it before the term starts. The cost to send these two teams (40 students and 5 teachers) to the tournaments is $4300. If you so desire, please send money to World Harvest Mission Christ School Fund at this link.
Thanks so much!