The secondary school tournament
We were on a hiding to nothing. The general presumption seemed to be that in three days, or more accurately in three hour-long sessions, having coaches from Arsenal would turn the Great Lakes High School football team into world beaters. It was apparent as soon as we started coaching them that it would take significantly longer than that just to make them competitive against their stronger and better organised local rivals, but we did what we could in the time we had.
On Thursday we travelled to Bishop Camboni College for the tournament, where we were at least greeted with flat pitches with few potholes, something we hadn’t seen for a while! The organisers still wanted each team to play three ninety minute matches, something we told them was ridiculous, particularly in this heat. Furthermore, with the tournament running on Africa time, meaning it eventually got underway an hour and a half later than scheduled, we pointed out that it would be dark long before all the matches were completed. After much protest, it was agreed to play slightly shorter games, but with every goal greeted by pitch invasions and a general Ugandan attitude to promptness, it was a LONG day.
We watched the first game between two other schools and saw the mountain the Great Lakes team would have to climb to keep the score respectable in their games. They battled hard to only lose the first 2-0 but as the day wore on, they started to resemble a team. In the end they did themselves proud, refusing to get demoralised in their last match as they went 2-0 down, fighting back to earn a 2-2 draw with a late equaliser.