Catholic Education Champion: John Kakande
John Kakande is one of ACE's most far-flung ambassadors, a young father and youth minister leading the efforts of Play Like A Champion Today® in Kkindu, Uganda, East Africa. In this remote village outside the city of Masaka, John works to advance a vision of sports as ministry that helps young people grow physically, emotionally, morally and spiritually. In Kkindu, you'll find a Play Like A Champion Today® sign (mimicking the very sign inside the Notre Dame football team's locker room) proudly rising in front a newly cleared sport field, called "Our Lady's Field." And you'll see children embracing the value of sport as a joyful release in life, and as a means of becoming stronger spiritually as well as physically.
John Kakande reports, "The community of Kkindu is one of the areas in Uganda which is highly affected by the AIDS pandemic, leaving the community with a lot of negative attitude towards their own life. With help from the Play Like A Champion ministry, we have used the sports platform to bring back hope in people who had lost it due to this HIV/AIDS pandemic. We use the various sports events that we hold in the community to pass on information about the HIV/AIDS prevention among the youth."
Among the Play Like a Champion activities Kakande oversees are soccer competitions, bicycle races, sack races among the young children, and net ball competitions among the girls. Children both Catholic and non-Catholic participate in these games. John Kakande continues, "These sports enable us to impart our Catholic religious values, [which] enables the youth to regain a sense of discipline, cooperation, respect and love for each other.
I am very pleased to extend our sincere gratitude towards Play Like A Champion Today ministry at the University of Notre Dame USA. Thanks to everyone for the great support and encouragement towards the youth sports ministry in Uganda."
The Play Like A Champion Today® educational ministry began in Uganda in 2009 and will expand this May when the Play Like a Champion team travels back to the country along with Notre Dame students who have taken the undergraduate classes associated with sports as a ministerial outreach and tool for whole human development. Together with Kevin Dugan, director of community outreach with the ND athletic department, the Play Like a Champion team will spread the "champion" philosophy across villages and schools throughout Uganda. The team will also work in conjunction with Uganda Martyrs University in beginning research on the effects of sport on children in a developing country.