A trio of special visitors came quite the distance to throw out a first pitch prior to Saturday’s baseball games at City Park.
Ugandan coach George Mukhobe and players Ivan Luyomba and Arthur Lusala were in Canada thanks to the Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation.
The trio were in the Lower Mainland over the weekend for the screening of the documentary Opposite Field. The documentary was filmed over three years by director Jay Shapiro and follows a baseball team from Kampala, Uganda as they struggle to become the first African team in history to qualify for the Little League World Series.
Uganda was scheduled to play a Langley Baseball team at the 2011 Little League World Series, but the team of 11 and 12-year-olds was denied entry into the United States due to discrepancies in their paper work.
The following year, Vancouver’s Ruth Hoffman, with the help of Right to Play, organized a humanitarian trip for the Langley team to play their Ugandan counterparts in an exhibition series.
“I’ve seen these kids get in front of balls … there’s no way in the world you could pay me enough money without a helmet and some pads on to stay in front, but this is what they have,” Rollins said.
All of the proceeds from the film screenings were donated to the Pearl of Africa Series 3, a development through sport initiative, which supports the Uganda Baseball and Softball Association. For more information, visit www.commonwealthgames.ca.
James Inglis/Langley Times
Ivan Luyomba throws out the ceremonial pitch at City Park on Saturday. Luyomba was one of three special guests from Uganda who is in Canada thanks to the Jimmy Rollins Family Foundation.