The 2016 memorable journey to the East African Games

Team UCU in a group photograph at the recent East African University Games in Nairobi, Decembe 2016 (File Photo)

By Janet Mpambara

Team UCU that participated in the East African University Games constituted students from different disciplines. We set off for the games hosted by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Technology on November 15.

Before setting off to Nairobi, we converged at the dining hall at 11:30am where the Vice-Chancellor, Dr. John Senyonyi, and the DVC Development and External Relations, Mr David Mugawe flagged us off.

The Sports Minister, Janet Mpambara and her deputy Paul Matundo received the university flag and banners from the vice-chancellor as a reminder that we had to stage a spirited fight for medals.

The vice-chancellor told us that the university was grateful for the many times we have held the university flag high in sports and wished us the very best in the games.

He also urged us to maintain discipline, arguing that for many years, the university’s sportsmen and women have been famous for their discipline.

Senyonyi said, “I urge you to keep that discipline while in Kenya. We are praying for you. We believe in you and we are proud of you.” He later led us in a prayer before leaving for another commitment.

After the prayers, it was lunch time and we were soon treated to a mouthwatering buffet I could not have eaten anywhere else that day.

After the meal, we then had a meeting with the coaches and staff who gave us an orientation about our stay in Kenya. In the meantime, different coaches introduced themselves, simplifying our work.

We at least got to know who to run to in case of need.

At about 4:00 pm December 15, each of us got into our respective buses, buckled up our seatbelts, prayed and began the journey. Excitement filled the air as we jazzed endlessly and people’s heads constantly popped out a little to gaze at the nature our country. I didn’t know that Uganda was greatly endowed as we would later discover. We enjoyed the journey but by 7pm when darkness started sweeping the sky, jazzing had gone down.

In the bus where I was, everyone seemed silent. At that time like us, most of our phones had blacked out and those who had power banks had more friends.

On our way, we made a few stopovers to buy eats, airtime and answering natures’ calls. By 8:00pm, we were at the border between Uganda and Kenya and got out for clearance. We were asked to present passports, national IDs and yellow fever vaccination cards and since we went prepared, we didn’t take a lot of time.

As we entered Kenya, we were advised to exchange local Ugandan currency into the Kenyan shilling. But it was a devastating experience because someone who had about UgShs40,000 ended up getting only KShs1000 after the exchange? We realized that Kenyan money is a force to reckon with. But despite the currency shock, we were really happy.

In the meantime, as we conducted the currency exchange, some people rang home to check on their loved ones before we hit the road again.

The first few hours in Kenya were so quiet with a few people walking on the streets. We reached our final destination the following day at 10:30am. We were however shocked to learn as soon as we arrived that some games were starting that same day. Immediately, we put on our sports uniform  earlier given to us at campus and hit the tracks.

Gosh! People were staring at our uniforms because they were cool. The caps and the shirts were of the same colours: navy blue and red and we had been asked to put them on with blue jeans. We rocked!  Some of our teams had their first games that day and with the team spirit, it was only prudent that we supported them. The netball team was among those that played their first game on arrival. God is great because they beat their opponents 36-7. The basketball team also had a match were they also emerged winners.

This marked the beginning of our victories in different sports.

The following day, December 16, all the disciplines were playing. Zealous and with so much enthusiasm, we played to our level best. At the end of the day, we were able to make it to the fourth position among over 20 universities. I would like to congratulate the sportsmen and women for the good show. We soar like eagles.

I would also like to thank the administration, the sports department and the supporting staff for the continuous support towards the sports fraternity. I also want to thank the Guild President for sparing her precious time to be with us in Kenya.

In a special way, I thank Dr Senyonyi who never turns his back on us even when he has a busy schedule.

I now know and believe that victory is not only about how many medals you come home with, but rather coming back home knowing that you did your very best. For God and my country.

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