The Red Raider Tournament

An excerpt from the journal of Minta Spears, Basketball:

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Before Sports Day: 

“Today is sports day which the school officially named the Red Raider Tournament. I am really excited about it, but I am also dreading the day because I have to say goodbye to the kids. I’m going to cry like a baby. The kids are great and they just want guidance and instruction in their lives. I’m sad to leave them and I feel helpless, but I have to remember they are in a good situation at Arise Africa schools and God will take care of them.”

After Sports Day:

“The sports day was really long, but it was really fun at the same time. We started the morning with an opening ceremony by singing the Ugandan national anthem, Arise Africa school song, and the Tech school song. Then our team performed “Party in the USA” for the kids, and they thought was hilarious. After singing and a few words from the headmaster of the school, we started the games which included American football, volleyball, kickball, and soccer penalty kicks in the case of a tiebreaker.

The students are very competitive. Twenty student-athletes combined with competitive students made for an interesting day. Mary, Jon, Tory, and I were the coaches for Team Love. (The school is divided into houses named Love, Joy, Peace, and Patience). We lost to Kelsi in American football by one touchdown, but made it to the finals in volleyball and kickball. We won the championship in volleyball but lost in kickball, so Team Love had 3 wins and Team Joy had 3 wins, so we had to go to penalty kicks to break the tie breaker. Thankfully we had good soccer players, and Team Love won the Red Raider Tournament!! When we won, the kids went crazy! They jumped up and down in a circle, and then they all chained arms and sprinted down the field. I legitimately felt like we had won a championship equivalent to the NCAA National Championship; that’s how excited they were.

At the closing ceremony, there were dances and speeches (everything in Uganda is very formal and cerimonial). We also got to handout the medals. The kids’ faces lit up when we placed the medal around their neck; they were so proud.

After the ceremony, they honored us as guests with a bull roasting. Yes, it is what it sounds like. They roast pieces of bull on a stick, and them you eat it. We also had to say goodbye to all the kids which was really hard. Throughout the week, I made so many connections with so many of the kids. I was probably closest to a little boy named Ronny who was 13 years old; he wrote me the sweetest letter that made me tear up. Emma, Gloria, Esther, Massa, Charles, and Morriss also made huge impacts on me. Even though our team was suppose to come to Uganda to help and teach these kids, I feel like they thought me way more than I could have ever imagined. I am so grateful to witness the blessings God has brought to us on this mission trip; I will never forget these people and the friends I have made.”

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