January 1, 2016:
The new year will be here in a few more days after I write this news page. A
number of significant things are going to be taking place during my trip to
Uganda, which will begin this evening, because a significant number of
events have and are taking place in a number of areas.
Baseball: As most people are aware, the baseball winter meetings took
place during the first week of December and they were very eventful as far
as Uganda was concerned. We were invited to spend some time with Mr. Eric
Lee, the assistant GM of the Cincinnati Reds. This was brought about as a
result of their Global Scouting Director working with us to arrange for two
of their scouts to come to the school the first week of January. Due to
time, we are bringing 20 players back to the school to go through certain
drills and play a couple of games under the sharp eyes and stop watches and
radar guns of the scouts. This is very significant for us and the baseball
program in Uganda. It marks the first time for actual MLB scouts coming to
Uganda to evaluate the talent that we have been trying to develop.
Prior to 2016, Dave Dombrowski had told us that if we could get about 150
players turning 15 with some baseball experience, scouts would be coming.
While we are not quite at that number, Cincinnati is the first of what we
hope may be scouts from all the Major League Teams. While they can only be
in Uganda during the first couple of days, we hope that future visits will
allow us to take them around Uganda to visit all our schools playing
baseball on a regular basis so they will get to see hundreds of players. It
is wonderful that Cincinnati has seen fit to send their scouts, and I am
sure others will be following. Where is Major League Baseball International?
We have been trying to get to them to begin to work with the Uganda
Commissioner of Sports on rapidly expanding the talent pool of Uganda
baseball players. Five years ago, during what was then our first clinic, and
two representative of MLB's envoy program working with us wanted to know how
serious we were in Uganda. Their question to me was what would happen if
something stop me from coming to Uganda. The short answer at that time was
that it would collapse. That is why Allen Vivian was brought to Nashville in
Allen Vivian and I spent time with the International Scouting people and GMs
of Boston, New York Yankees, Detroit Tigers, LA Dodgers, in addition to
Cincinnati. Her comments and speech answered many of the questions I got
five years ago and said Uganda is very serious about baseball and softball,
and we are doing it now! We also spent some time with David James of the RBI
program of Major League Baseball. David and us are trying to work on getting
a team of 15 year old players to come to the U.S. this year, possibly in
April. The object would be to do something in regard to Jackie Robinson Day
and have the Ugandan kids play 8 to 10 games in as many days so that more
scouts could see some of the young kids. While the RBI program would not be
in full swing in April, we are hoping to fill in the schedule with local
Varsity High School teams.
In the meantime, starting on January 10 in Uganda, we will begin our seventh
annual two week coaches clinic for 60 to 70 coaches and umpires. Part of
that clinic will include the first Secondary School National Championship
Tournament for kids in S1 and S2. It will be a double elimination tournament
starting on January 17, with the championship game played on the morning of
January 21. This tournament will be run every January under the direction of
the Uganda Commissioner of Sports and Uganda Little League. It consists of
the all star teams of eight leagues coming to the Little League Complex to
compete. Possibly as early as next year, a second National Championship
Tournament will be added to this one when the players move up to S3 and S4.
A third will come shortly after that as the kids move to S5 and S6.
Thousands of kids will be playing to get into these tournaments every
January. When that happens, we expect to see many visitors from Major League
Teams watching these tournaments.
Softball: The annual January clinic is also for softball coaches and
umpires. This year, Uganda is expecting to send a team to the World
Championships in British Columbia in July. While there is no age limit, it
is expected that the Uganda team will consist of more than half of the
players from the AVRS school team that went to the Little League World
Series in August of 2015, even though they will only be turning 14 in 2016.
A statement like that demonstrates the progress we have made, but also how
far we still need to go. But it is a start and Allen Vivian has been asked
to be one of the coaches.
School: In late January, the AVRS Secondary School of Math and
Science for the Athletically Talented will begin its fourth year. With what
we have accomplished in athletic competition and academic program, we are
developing a significant following and many more applicants are applying
each year. What this means is that both are academic ability and athletic
ability is improving each year as we become more selective. In turn, we
continue to make great strides with our capitol structure so that are
facilities both athletically and academically are the best. We are getting
there as great progress is made every year. We are in the process of being
accredited by the Middle States Organization out side Philadelphia. It may
take longer than 18 months, but we are in the process.
Starting on January 3, one of our past visitors to the complex of two years
ago is coming with a crew to run a three week program on film making. It
will be for half of the students entering their fourth year at the school
They will be shown how to write, act, direct and film a short movie. At the
same time, I have asked them to make a documentary of what they are doing so
that maybe that will make it one day to American Television. Look for it
late in 2016. It is possible that they may also film the drills that the
Cincinnati scouts put some of the baseball players through during their
visit to the complex.
Breast Cancer: The Uganda Breast Cancer Clinic Directors will be
meeting in Kampala early in January to plot our future course. We currently
believe that we will be opening the Breast Imaging Clinic sometime after
July 1, 2016. How we want to operate and when is up for discussion. The new
instrument that we fully expect to replace mammograms and thus eliminate
benign biopsies is in the final stages of FDA approval. Supposedly, it is
better than originally imagined and is constantly being improved. The
instrument is available for us to obtain as of January 1. How and when and
where we operate it are the questions that need to be answered. Three years
ago, we thought we would need to raise $3 million to operate it as a free
clinic. The people who thought they could obtain the money found it very
difficult to do. We were originally going to operate it as part of a
clinical trial. That is no longer needed, but money is still hard to obtain.
After this January meeting, we should have a pretty good idea of what we
need to do to become the first African prototype program that may eliminate
benign biopsies and enable breast cancer to be detected long before it
requires any major surgery. We will keep you informed of our progress. If
you wish to join us, please feel free to contact us.
Trenton Thunder supplied the hats and shirts that the team wore
in Poland. The Trenton team was rooting for them to win so that they could
come to the U.S. and visit the Trenton stadium and be introduced to the
media and the crowd at a Trenton Thunder ball game. Uganda would
have been the first African Little League team to make it to the
Little League World Series in its almost 80 year history.