(Gayaza) Catching the ball, throwing it, touching the ground… In a rutted land at the bottom of which cows come to graze, Dennis Kasumba tirelessly repeats the same gestures.
This young Ugandan baseball player diligently prepared to shine in a major league recruiting league, to which he was invited, the chance of a lifetime for this orphan who grew up in a slum and dreams of turning pro.
“I am very, very happy. I have no words to express my feelings, I feel blessed,” the 18-year-old told AFP before flying to the United States last weekend.
To make his dream come true, Dennis Kasumba has been training for years, day and night, in his hometown of Gayaza, about ten kilometers north of the capital Kampala. “I want to prove I’m the best,” he says.
Your passion and determination are no longer to be tested.
His friends filmed his tireless one-on-one training sessions with equipment repaired with whatever means were available. We see him doing squats with dumbbells made of concrete and old car tires, strength training with weights with water bottles taped to his calves, pitch training with rocks, a tire strapped to his back…
Posted on social media, these videos went viral and caught the attention of Major League Baseball, which invited him to participate in a recruiting league, considered a springboard for hopes.
Biscates at 8 years old
Raised in Gayaza by his grandmother, Dennis Kasumba never knew his parents. His mother abandoned him when he was a child after his father, a soldier, died fighting rebels.
At the age of eight, he dropped out of school and started doing odd jobs to eat, working mainly in a slaughterhouse before meeting coach João Bosco Sempa, who invited him to the local baseball field. A revelation.
The coach quickly encourages his pupil, gifted with natural talent and unwavering determination, to post his performances on social media. “It started out as a joke, but now I’m going to the States to play major league baseball,” laughs Dennis Kasumba today.
This journey to the state of Maryland has not been an easy one. His US visa application was rejected twice, before finally being accepted in May. His friends and supporters helped him pay for the trip. “I’m so excited,” he says.
But the path to becoming a professional is still high in a country, Uganda, which has never sent a baseball player to a major league and where football and athletics remain the kings of sports.
“We want Kasumba to compete in the biggest league in the world, that’s our hope,” João Bosco Sempa told AFP.
“We hope that […] many coaches will see it, many schools or universities will see it. If you play your best, following your heart, you might have your chance. »
For the coach, Dennis Kasumba’s path is already a source of inspiration for young people who train in the same field as him.
“As a coach, I like all our players to be successful,” says João Bosco Sempa. According to him, the story of Dennis Kasumba is a source of pride “not only for him, but also for the country”.