The Little League Softball World Series was marred in controversy when a team from South Snohomish, Wash., reportedly lost a game on purpose Monday. Players were instructed to bunt in non-bunt situations and swing pitches in the dirt. South Snohomish had already clinched a spot in the semifinals but could eliminate the Central Iowa All-Stars by losing.

Central Iowa appealed and earned a tiebreaker game with South Snohomish. Karma kicked in and Central Iowa won, 3-2.

On the other side of the bracket, there was inspiration rather than game-fixing. AVRS School became the first team from Uganda to make the LLSWS.


AVRS is a math-and-science boarding school for the athletically talented located 25 miles outside of the capital of Kampala. Richard Stanley, a retired chemical engineer and part owner of a minor-league team in Trenton, N.J., opened the school in 2013. He has been promoting baseball in Uganda for more ten years. Along with the AVRS girls, the boys team will become the second from Uganda -- Lugazi was the first in 2012 -- to go to the Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pa.

Before traveling to the Europe-Africa region tournament in Poland, the softball team had ride 16 hours by bus each way to Nairobi, Kenya, home of the closest Polish embassy to get paperwork. Back at AVRS, students then had to travel as far as 10 hours to their homes to get it signed by parents.

Stanley told The Oregonian it cost about $3,000 per player just to get to the regional, which included money out of his own pocket.


After AVRS swept the Europe-Africa tournament in late July, the team circled back to Kampala, where it needed to meet at the U.S. Embassy. With American approval, the 12 girls and their coaches made the more-than-24-hour trip to Portland.

"Girls aren't supposed to do anything like this in Uganda, so we are very happy," said Allen Vivian Balondemu, team manager and director of AVRS upon arrival in Portland.

Uganda went 2-2 in pool play, defeating teams from Warwick, R.I., and Maunabo, Puerto Rico. On Wednesday, the team was set to play South Snohomish in the fifth-place game.

"To beat an American team here it's unbelievable," Balondemu told KOIN Oregon Tuesday. "I couldn't believe that. So I'm proud of my team."

In the KOIN news report by Amy Frazier, AVRS team captain Gorret Komuhendo channels her inner Kevin Garnett to exclaim, "Nothing is impossible!" She also praises the American people for their acceptance of the foreign team, although, Komuhendo's taste buds did not mesh with pizza.

Thousands of miles from their home, these players enjoyed an experience this week that would have seemed impossible in Uganda and neighboring African countries a decade ago. Instead, Uganda was the toast of Portland, and like the Ugandan LLWS team in 2012, AVRS will go home with at least one win against an American team in its pocket. (Lugazi's win was against Gresham, Oregon, which is just east of Portland.)

If finances line up, the AVRS girls can make a stop in Williamsport on the way home. The boys' LLWS opener is 1 p.m. ET Thursday against Los Bravos de Pontezuela of the Domincan Republic.

This connects to Stanley's vision of baseball in Uganda.

"I think Uganda can be the next Dominican Republic," Stanley says.


Uganda is far away from producing the next batch of players like David Ortiz and Albert Pujols, but this year's softball and baseball performance are indicative of how fast the nation is improving at the youth level.

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-- Follow Jeffrey Eisenband on Twitter @JeffEisenband.

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