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Ugandan youth to test YOU.FO, a new Dutch sport



Ugandan youth in Lugazi will on Saturday test a new innovative sports and leisure game from the Netherlands known as YOU.FO

The game that has similarities with Lacrosse and combines elements of Frisbee is played by throwing an aerodynamic ring with sticks. It requires concentration, strength, flexibility, and cooperation, according to the founder Bas Ruyssenaars who is in the country to launch the sport alongside Giel Bos, the Chief Marketing Officer and development partner of the founding organisation.

The two arrived in the country on Thursday with an assortment of equipment that they are going to use to introduce and train potential players that will initially form team Uganda which will compete in the upcoming World Cup of the sport on June 18 in the Netherlands.

The Saturday tournament will happen after a training and certification session for the trainers and participants on Friday which is going to be conducted in conjunction with Isaac Ssekamwa Mugabi, the in-country director of Sports Aid Network that is passionate about enriching the lives of less privileged children through sports.

YOU.FO can be played one-on-one or in teams, with goals or freestyle, in city parks, on sports fields, or at the beach. In a serious competition, each team is composed of five players with three on each side playing at any particular time, though you can also play a five-a-side match. You can make substitutes at any time because of the intensity of the game. Scoring is done at the end zones when an opposing player catches the ring in their opponent’s zone for a point each time.

There are two scoring zones on each side of the playing field. To begin, teams start in their scoring zone with their YOU.FO sticks in hand and runs towards the centre of the field to meet the opposition and to try to claim the ring first. Passing and catching the ring can only be achieved by using the YOU.FO stick. Like in netball, once the ring is on your stick, you must not run with it. You must pivot and throw the ring to another teammate before running again. Each match is played over four quarters of ten minutes each.

YOU.FO Chief Marketing Officer Giel Bos addresses the press flanked by Isaac Ssekamwa Mugabi, the in-country director of Sports Aid Network ahead of the launch of YOU.FO, a new sport made in the Netherlands. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

YOU.FO Chief Marketing Officer Giel Bos addresses the press flanked by Isaac Ssekamwa Mugabi, the in-country director of Sports Aid Network ahead of the launch of YOU.FO, a new sport made in the Netherlands. Photo by Michael Nsubuga

The game has its origins in Bas Ruyssenaars’ teenage years in the Netherlands. He loved creating his outdoor games and that’s how he once launched his dog’s rubber ring with a long wooden stick. A stick used to play the sport costs up to $20 (sh74,000/-) and a pack of 12 sticks and six rings (for a club) is $300 (sh1.2m). But the global association is going to donate 60 sticks, enough for 12 clubs to kick-start the sport in Uganda.

The standard field for the sport is 10×20 meters (just like a volleyball court) and it is dynamic, meaning all players can engage in both offensive and defensive play. It’s a non-contact sport where females can play with their male counterparts.

“This is the first time that we are introducing the sport in Africa so we are happy to establish You. fo Uganda and take it as the first step of the sport in Africa,” Bos said.

“We are going to work with global partners that could help with the development of the sport at the grassroots level to facilitate fundraising but also equipment to all regions of the world,” he stated.

“It is easy to play, easy to adapt for all age groups, young and old, so everybody can play. That is why it is very successful in schools. There are no out-of-bounds and you can continue playing all the time. You can claim the ring if you don’t catch it and it is a self-regulated sport without referees,” Ruyssenaars, the CEO of YOU.FO added.

Ssekamwa who is also the executive advisor on Lacrosse said the sport can help the development of youth and kids the reason they have partnered is to see how they can develop this unique sport not only in our different communities but in the different refugee settlements where they carry out work in conjunction with the UNHCR and the office of the Prime Minister.

“We hope that we shall use this unique sport in the different refugee settlements and this year we shall be privileged to have a team go out and compete in You. Fo,”

“We have many Lacrosse players who we hope will easily adapt to You. Fo because it uses the same concept.  We are looking at growing the sport autonomously and independently without necessarily lagging and depending on other sources. We are looking at establishing a national body that is autonomous and independent without relying mostly on donations and the government,” Ssekamwa stated.

Playing around, Bas discovered that he could make the ring fly pretty far. Fast forward years later and in 2010 Bas decided to turn the initial idea into a dynamic and fun game together with a team of industrial designers, sports teachers, and first followers Giel Bos & Tim Konings.

The sport went on to win national sports innovation awards and European awards before the founders embarked on instituting rules of the game and concepts that can be easily embraced in schools. The sport is currently played in over 20 countries. Former Dutch professional football player and manager Johannes Cruijff was one of the ambassadors of the sport before he died although his foundation is still working with the sport according to Bos.

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