We’re heading to the airport of Barcelona, arrive well in time, we check in, wait in the departure lounge. Suddenly I realize that I forgot one of the two backpacks we’re allowed to take with us on the plane. I run through security controls and get it back.

We leave towards London. A 3-hour stop at Heathrow and then a 7-hour flight to Uganda.

After getting off the plane and passing health checks, we go through visa control where we have to play €40 each.

In all the many tips I have made in my life, a customs officer had never talked to me with such kindness and humor:

Customs officer: Spain? What’s good in Spain?
Abel: Barcelona!
Customs officer: but Barcelona is really in Spain or not in Spain? (with an ironic look)

We collect our luggage and go without showing our certificate of donation we had dealt with the Ugandan Consulate in Badalona to avoid being charged a fee for introducing material into the country.

Our friends receive us with effusive hugs and warm welcome. We get into two cars and start the journey: about 45 minutes from Entebbe to Kampala.

First impression: the atmosphere is relaxed, many people in the streets (it’s Saturday night), traffic is informal, there is no light on the road.

During the trip, our host Vincent will not stop thanking us for the effort to get there and the help we will provide.
We begin to understand the magnitude of the trip and its impact on these people. We arrive in Bukoto, where we will stay in the house of one of the coaches (Julius Kyobe). My apartment is not especially big, but my bedroom is bigger than his house. There is no sink in the bathroom. No matter, it’s just a detail.
Abel and I have to share a bed while Julius sleeps on a tiny mattress on the floor. We put mosquito nets and after a brief chat, we go to bed. Our task starts on Sunday morning.

Also read:
– #TennisAid Uganda: the story of Martin Rocca
– #TennisAid Uganda: the project
– #TennisAid Uganda: the funding

Follow Martin on Twitter and Instagram.

#TennisAid Uganda

Enjoy part 2 of this series of posts about charity project #TennisAid:

The origin of the project was totally casual and spontaneous. Out of habit, I record my tennis lessons, especially with younger players, I edit the videos, add some music and try to give them an original format. This constant search for innovation pushed me to make a video of mini-tennis, but this time not only with pictures of my students, I thought I could show how to work with kids around the world.

I started contacting by mail or Facebook coaches I knew or coaches who work with young children. My request was clear and simple: to record about 15 minutes of their tennis lesson, and send it to me, either by mail, Whatsapp or any other mean. That’s how a work of about 5 months started.
Several people people answered me immediately. Others asked me time because their schools were on holidays. After 3 months, less than 20% had answered me.

Finally, in September 2014, and with over 30 countries represented, I managed to finish the “We love Mini” video. Clubs with good infrastructures and a clear organization, or overcrowded classes and coaches who work more with their will and vocation than with equipments: contrasts are obvious. Take the case of Victoria Tennis in Kenya: one coach on a court with about 40 students, throwing balls by hand. A beautiful chaos. In the video, you can see images of countries such as Zimbabwe, Germany, Nigeria, USA, Yemen, Argentina, Mexico, Estonia, Brazil and Egypt.

One of the fastest coaches to answer to my request was Vince Mowereza, from the city of Kampala, capital of Uganda. He is dedicated to promote tennis in schools with the help of his friend Julius Kyobe. They work for free, just to spread the sport.
He told me he was looking with envy at the amount of equipment I have to work kids’ psycho-motor skills, and he had absolutely no way to get that equipment in his town.
My first thought was that I could buy a few mini-tennis balls of all sizes and pressures and send them by mail. Then I thought I could also send a few racquets.

I talked about it with my friend and club-mate Abel Rincon, who spontaneously said: “What if we go there and bring him the equipment instead of sending it?” We looked at each other an started laughing. Because right there we realized that the trip would become reality and that we would end up going to Africa to donate sports equipment.

We knew that we were embarking on a great adventure. What we did not know is the magnitude it would reach.

Also read:
#TennisAid Uganda: the story of Martin Rocca
#TennisAid Uganda: the funding
#TennisAid: the arrival in Uganda
#TennisAid Uganda: the Ntinda School for the Deaf
#TennisAid: the second day in Uganda – the Shimoni Primary School
#TennisAid third day in Uganda
#TennisAid fourth day in Uganda

Follow Martin on Twitter and Instagram.