GAME 31: CITY SQUARE, KAMPALA, UGANDA


Desperate begging young women in rags carrying babies appear at the taxi window one by one as we near Kampala city centre . Downtown is madness ..motorbikes, traffic and the air is thick with fumes and the need to graft to survive . Tiny shoeless tots hold out their hands on the teeming streets for something.. anything .. one wee girl tries to hold my hand as I walk ..it’s devastating. My mate Mathew and I make our way to City Square Park where the young homeless men live. Today they are asleep in the sun. We go for a chat and get a 4 v 4 going. These tough displaced young men, 18-20 years old, come to life.


The game is rough..very tough but somehow fair . Malumga Mukisa is a hell of a player ..left midfield ..full of darting runs and quick turns . Godfrey Wegulu in the nets for one of the teams is hard as nails ..a tank. Hassan Samari is tall and rangey and plays the whole game with a smile on his face, as does Benjamin Boringo, Brian Esgwagwe, Sadat Zimula, Michael Mukisa, . I join in for the side who’ve fallen 5-1 behind. We end up winning 6-5 ! ( Nowt to do with me ..though I did curl one in with my left) Some women are walking around selling fizzy pop. I call the boys over and sort out drinks for them ..trouble is the rest of the rough sleepers in the park click this, run over and raid all the pop thinking I’m paying for the lot. Thankfully the dreadlocked Antonio who’d been watching the game stepped in to save the day ..and me about 50 quid ! What a day.


I chatted to the lads afterwards. A tougher life is hard to imagine than theirs . For a brief moment they’d seemed alive and happy and even optimistic ...what could be but what almost certainly won’t ever be possible ...football working its magic again, but this time for all too short a time.