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“It takes courage and heart to travel to a continent where the media portrays it to be a place of war, poverty, disease and corruption. To us down here, you are heroes and deserve this award.”
Those were the words of Coach George, the coach of the Ugandan baseball team and president of the Ugandan baseball and softball association.
He wrote that in an email to Ruth Hoffman, the driving force behind the Pearl of Africa Series, which sent a team of 11 and 12-year-olds from the Langley Baseball Association play against their Ugandan counterparts. The teams were originally supposed to play at the Little League World Series in 2011, but the African champions were denied entry to the U.S. because of discrepancies with their visas and paperwork.
So the Langley ball players travelled to Uganda in January of 2012 and their trip was made into a documentary by Sportsnet, Fair Ball.
And it was after watching the documentary that Alberta’s Janice Miller, who was so touched by its message, she decided to nominate Hoffman and the team for the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award.
Governor General David Johnston was at the Township of Langley’s Fraser River Presentation Theatre on June 3.
The award was created in 1995 to recognize the “unsung heroes of our country,” Johnston told the audience.
It recognizes those who volunteer their time and efforts to help others build a smarter and more caring nation.
Colby Ring, one of the players on the team, said the trip was a life-changing experience.
“We went to Uganda … to play a game of baseball, little did we know that our experience was not only about baseball, but life lessons and outlooks and especially making life-long friendships.”