There will be a native team from the new Europe and Africa region at this year's Little League World Series, just not from Africa.
The Allen VR Stanley Secondary School Little League from Nakiribie won the 2013 Uganda LL tournament, but was disqualified before the Europe and Africa regional when Little League found five players on the team did not meet the residency requirements for the league.
According to the Uganda Little League Baseball web site, the Allen VR Stanley School for Math and Science is a new boarding school that also includes five of the players from last year's Lugazi LL team.
Uganda was the first native African team to play in the Little League World Series last year.
The site also says that all its Little Leagues are school-based, though there are no school districts like in the United States. Most people want their kids in private schools if they can afford it, and many kids are constantly switching them.
"We do have rules regulating that players play on the team where they hold their bona fide residence," Little League said in a statement. "We extended the offer to the second place team, Gulu Little League, to play in the Europe and Africa Regional Tournament."
But Gula did not participate, leaving the regional with 11 teams - all from Europe. The decision to disqualify the Stanley team was made in June. The Stanley team won the Uganda national tournament, held in May to allow for proper travel document processing time.
The Europe and Africa region will be decided today when Emilia LL, from Emilia Italy, meets South Moravia LL from Brno, Czech Republic, in Kutno, Poland.
This is the second time in three years that the Ugandan team has been blocked en route to the LLWS. In 2011, the Rev. John Foundation team from Kampala won the old Europe, Middle East and Africa region but was denied visas for a trip to the United States over discrepancies in birth dates and ages.
Last year, a team from Lugazi qualified and made history as the first native African team in the LLWS. Much of the growth in Uganda baseball can be traced to the philanthropy of Richard Stanley, a retired Staten Island chemist and part owner of the Trenton Thunder minor-league baseball team. Stanley visited with the Lugazi team last year and served as a coach.
"It is saddening because the youth players have been training for a while and were eager to go play in Poland," Uganda coach Paul Kateregga recently said to Xinhua, the official press agency of China. "Now they have disqualified us because of this, yet some of these students changed school because they opted for a better education."
Despite the loss of another possible trip to the Little League World Series, Uganda players have plenty of donated baseball equipment after the?Lugazi 2012 visit attracted national attention. According to pennlive.com, Uganda Little Leaguers received 6,021 new or "gently used" items, including 960 baseballs, 722 pairs of cleats, 711 baseball bats, 488 helmets, 265 pairs of pants and 208 softball bats.