Uganda’s Michael Kawooya, who this week will be competing in his fourth Commonwealth Games, has paid tribute to the kindness of the Canadian squash community, who have helped him grow the sport in Uganda through generous donations of squash gear.
Kawooya, who first competed in the 2010 Games in Delhi, has been working to grow the game in Uganda for the past 12 years. In his home city of Kampala, access to squash equipment is extremely challenging, with no shops stocking squash rackets and balls.
The 38-year-old, who on Friday will play Marcus Allen Adela of Seychelles in the first round in Birmingham, runs free coaching sessions for children in his native Uganda and helps supply eager new squash players with equipment, a task aided by a number of donors in recent years.
One such group has been the Canadian squash community, who in recent months and with support from Squash Outaouais in Gatineau, Wallace Squash in Ottawa and Karakal North America, have donated and shipped 35 rackets (including new, lightly used and junior rackets), 60 new squash balls strings, grips, five squash bags, four eye guards, squash shoes as well as various items of clothing.
Explaining how he began his mission to grow the game in Uganda and the role the donations would play, Kawooya said: “Lew Marsden [now head coach at Scarborough Squash Academy] invited me for a training camp in 2010, where I was gifted free coaching and squash rackets, shoes, bags, and t-shirts to bring home. I felt touched so I wanted to spread awareness of the beauty of the sport by involving the young generation with free coaching and giving out what was given to me at the start.
“This led to meeting some of the kind-hearted, passionate and loving Canadian squash community who have stood with me through their generous support.
“Their support means the world to me and the next generation in Uganda. We are really honoured and humbled to have them along with us.”