The GAA club was set up by Ugandan natives Moses Amanyire and Robert Bakaze in 2018.
The GAA legacy in Ireland is ingrained into our culture with local clubs enriching our sense of community for hundreds of years.
Now, thanks to the power of social media, the GAA’s legacy has spread to east Africa. Just four kilometres outside the capital of Kampala, a schoolteacher and his friend have set up ‘Uganda GAA’.
I spoke with the founder Moses Amanyire about Ugandan GAAs humble beginnings, how it came about and how it continues to grow.
“In 2018, me and a friend of mine (Robert Bakaze) came across the GAA, especially hurling on YouTube and TikTok,
“Since I was a PE teacher, I agreed with him that I could introduce it at the school.” Amanyire said.
With the help of baseballs and creative DIY hurleys, Moses taught his classes all about the sport of hurling.
“Back then we made our own hurleys,”
“Back in the day, 2018 to be precise, we came up with an initiative of making our own hurls even before we got in touch with the GAA. My friend with whom we started Uganda GAA, Robert Bakaze asked me to find a carpenter within my locality who would try to make something like a hurley.” he added.
After multiple attempts of creating the perfect hurleys, the pair were still concerned regarding the weight and measurements of their samples, which resulted in a plead of help to the GAA.
Luckily enough, the GAA were willing to help, but another obstacle stood in the way of Moses and Robert.
“They sent us hurleys and equipment, however we weren’t able to get the gear due to customs at the airport, so we had to continue to make our own hurleys.”
“We had a meeting with the ambassador of Ireland in Uganda (Kevin Colgan) and he said he would help the donation get through customs”.
Once they were able to get up and running to an extent, the two began posting clips to social media platforms which began to gain some traction.
“Social media is one of our biggest tools. Since we are so far from Ireland, we think social media can show GAA is not just in Ireland and Europe but now in Africa. We hope to keep posting our updates.” Moses said.
Also with the use of social media, they have the ability to watch the competitions such as the All-Ireland championship from afar, with Moses even admitting that John Kiely’s men are one of his favourite teams to watch.
“My favourite teams to watch for hurling are Limerick, Tipperary and Kilkenny and for football, Galway.” he said.
In terms of the contrast in sport between Uganda and Ireland, Moses believes the difference in facilities between both countries plays a huge factor.
“The biggest challenge is the facilities. Sport is taught in primary schools in Ireland, whereas here it’s on the curriculum but I think maybe only 0.3 percent are teaching sport at schools here in Uganda,”
“That’s why sport is growing more in Ireland, Ugandans in general life are athletic people due to weather, food and the way of the life.” Moses added.
To educate children about hurling in his school Moses combats the differences in time zones by ‘downloading them and watching them in class before their PE lesson’ as the games take place too late to show live.
Moses made encouraged anyone who makes the trip from Ireland to Uganda to join them for a training session and help in any way they can as they continue to evolve the sport in their country.
“I request, if there is anyone traveling to Uganda from Ireland who is into the GAA if they could spare time and train with us,
“If there are some people traveling to Uganda if they could bring a 5 or 10 kg bag with them for us that would be great”, due to shipping being the biggest problem the Ugandan GAA face.
The creative work from Moses, Robert and everyone involved in Uganda GAA earned them an invitation to the World Games on behalf of the GAA, but Moses believes that they are not yet prepared to take on such a challenge.
“We don’t have enough teams, manpower, players, good players,”
“To be able to take on others at that level, first we want to focus on the young kids. who actually have very good talent”. he added.
Regarding future plans, Moses plans to push football this month, with a great push for the ladies game expected in 2024.
The potential of Uganda GAA is great to see from an Irish perspective, with the sight of our culture spreading in all corners of the world filling us all with great pride.
You can find more information about Ugandan GAA and get contact via the email and socials below.