Uganda Plays in 2012 Little League World Series

Charles E. Sutton | 8/27/2012, 12:04 p.m.

Uganda may have recently lost both of their Little League World Series games, but that doesn't seem to matter to Little League fans from around the world. Uganda is the first team from their city in Africa to play in the 66-year history of the Little League World Series, and only the second team from Africa to ever qualify for the Little League World Series. Uganda has created quite a buzz and quickly became fan favorites at the 2012 games in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

On Friday, Aug. 17, Lugazi, Uganda lost to Aguadulce, Panama, 9-3. The following day, Uganda was beaten by Mexico's Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas 12-0.

The Ugandan Little League team is from a very poor section of Africa and several players traveled to South Williamsport without shoes to play in. Most of their family and friends couldn't afford to make the trip, but other teams and the crowds at South Williamsport have cheered them on in a major way. The Ugandan team has worked very hard to make it to the 2012 Series and they truly appreciate the trip to America. The Ugandan players have said the fields are much better than the ones they play on at home, and they have never played in front of such large crowds.

The Ugandan team's trip to the Series is part of a three-week stay in the U.S. Following the games, they will tour various parts of the country. The team will go to New York City to visit the United Nations, and travel to New Jersey to see a minor league baseball game. For the Ugandan players this is an experience of a lifetime.

Baseball is a growing sport in Africa and missionaries brought the sport to Uganda several years ago. Ugandan manager Henry Odong said they're proud to represent Africa, where even though baseball is emerging, it's still not as popular as soccer. "I need to thank so many people," he said, to that end, he has written thank you messages on poster boards hoping that they will be seen on international television. Lugazi baseball fans watched the Ugandan team's first game live on ESPN2 at the Patron Hotel at midnight on Aug. 18.

"The rest of Africa is behind us," Odong said in recounting his message to players after early struggles at the plate. "People are watching ... just make contact."

Uganda defeated Gresham, Ore., 3-2 on Tuesday in a consolation game, making their official Series record 1-2, but the team has plans to play "friendly games" against American teams in the future.