Gainline Africa is a Canadian sports for development organization that uses rugby as a tool for development in Africa’s post-conflict communities. We are a volunteer-driven organization made up of rugby and non-rugby players who believe sport is a non-intrusive, efficient and cost-effective tool to assess and address many social and developmental issues that arise in post-conflict communities.
Locally, we raise awareness and involvement through initiatives that educate and engage Canadians about the issues post-conflict communities face. Abroad, our sustainable program model partners us with rugby communities to promote education, leadership, health, conflict resolution and peacebuilding.
Growing up my rugby teammates became my family. We pushed each other on and off the field - in life and in sport - forging relationships well after the whistle had blown.
Research shows that sport is a therapeutic activity for communities physically and psychologically affected by war. In a community devastated by extreme hardships, a rugby pitch can restore a lost sense of normalcy through an organized environment. With rules, regulations, and referees, individuals can find solace in an undisturbed environment while organizers can help identify those that require further assistance or counseling.
Rugby is an active means by which groups of youth (male and female) come together in an uplifting and encouraging environment. Rugby achieves the following:
Although we seek to connect rugby communities across all of Africa, we have focused our first efforts in Uganda, a beautiful country nestled in the Great Lakes region of the African continent. Working primarily in the northern Uganda region of Gulu, Gainline Africa’s coaches and community leaders are teaming up with local Ugandans to strengthen rugby communities after many years of brutal civil war.
Over the past few years, we’ve partnered with seven high schools and one senior rugby club in Gulu. More recently, we’re furthering our reach with war-affected communities in Uganda by expanding the schools program to four high schools in Kitgum District and now partner with the Kitgum Lions Rugby Club.
Our grassroots approach seeks to maximize positive impact and create a sustainable legacy of Canadian-Ugandan rugby community cooperation.
Select a school name to view more details.
Founded in 1952, Sir Samuel Baker is an advanced-level boarding school for boys only. It is located 6kms from Gulu town and started its rugby program in the 1960s, but soon lost many sports programs due to political conflict that began in the 1970s. The school houses 800-1000 students from S1 to S6, depending on enrolment in a given year. Although coming last in the 1st Guluschools rugby league, the SSB rugby club is growing every year and becoming a well-respected group of students. In 2013, SSB rugby club hosted the first youth tour from Canada and hope to continue the traditional annually.
Established in 1998, Gulu Central High School is a mixed school but only has a boys’ rugby club at the present time. It’s situated just on the outskirts of town but the closest of all our participating schools. Central has approximately 883 students in total. It’s been involved in the Gainline Africa & GRFC program since 2010 and has a growing number of participants in the rugby program every year. One of their players even trains daily with the Gulu Elephants!
As one of the youngest schools in Gulu District, Pope John Paull II College is one of the best performing in the region. The current enrolment is 1100 students, male and female. The rugby club has both a boys and girls team. In 2013, the boys’ team took the winning trophy in the Gulu schools rugby league and went on to compete at the national games and regional East African championships.
Opened in 1914, Gulu High School is one of the oldest schools in the program. It’s a government run secondary school but was first opened by a missionary society. Financially supported by the church at first, in 1964 it became a government sponsored school. Gulu High is a mixed school and its rugby club has both a boys and girls team. Located a 10 minute drive outside of Gulu town, it hosts a total of 1025 students and 55 staff members. In 2013, the students of the rugby club planted a fruit garden as one of their community activities that will last for years to come and be enjoyed by many future rugby players!
Founded in 1986, Bishop Angelo Negri College is located 15 minutes outside of Gulu town and funded by the Gulu Archdiocese. It’s an all-boy, government-funded, boarding school and houses approximately 700 students. Negri rugby club is one of the first in the schools program. Their pitch is of great pride and they have even hosted Gulu Elephant (Gulu’s senior rugby club) games there in the past.
Founded in 2009, Graceland Girls Secondary School is the only all-girls school in Gulu region that has a rugby club. The number of club members increases every year and in 2013 they entered two teams in the Gulu schools rugby league. The sports teacher once said ‘we try to get these girls to play soccer too, but they just pick up the ball and run with it.’ The school is privately owned and located 10 minutes outside of Gulu town along Gulu Pakwach Road. It is a boardingschool and houses 537 students.
Layibi College is situated to the south of Gulu town and is also an all-boy, government-funded, secondary school. The school was founded in 1953 by a Missionary Society, enrols 1223 students and sits on 198 acres of land. Layibi is the name of the village surrounding the school grounds. The College was one of the first in Gulu District to introduce rugby to their students. In 2010 the rugby club planted trees near the school entrance and the pitch; they are still growing today.
Vignato is a Catholic founded school which was started in 2004 to provide quality education to both boys and girls not only within Kitgum but even the neighbouring districts. It has an approximate population of 600 students. It is located 1Kilometer west of Kitgum Town besides the Police barracks. The schools rugby was formed in 2012 and they managed to emerge victors of the first rugby tournament in Kitgum in June 2013.
Vision College is a private secondary school and was founded in 1996, by 2 people in partnership. It is a mixed day and boarding school and offers both Ordinary and Advanced level education. It is located south of Kitgum town approximately 3 Kilometers from the town center next to the airstrip. It started with about 50 students but as time went on enrolment increased to 250 students in O level and 100 students in A’ level in the next couple of years. It currently accommodates 1242 students. Rugby was introduced to the students in 2012 and the Club was quite small. However, with time the club has continuously grown in 2013.
A private school established in 1996, it is a mixed day O and A level school. It sits on approximately 4 acres of land located 2kms southwest of Kitgum town. The school has a growing number of students and currently has a population of 900. This is the oldest rugby playing school in Kitgum, the rugby club was formed in 2011 and has strongly grown along the years. It even has a few of students playing for the Kitgum Lions (Kitgum’s Senior Team).
The school is a government aided institution with a Uganda National Examinations Board center that was formed by the Uganda Catholic Parents Association Kitgum branch in 1970 as rural trade school. It was transformed into a technical school in 1973 to admit more students, it was then upgraded into a technical institute in 1983. Today Kitgum Technical Institute is the only technical institute in the Gainline Africa program. It has a total population of about 200. The rugby club went into action in 2012 and currently has the highest number of rugby playing students in Kitgum.
"We seek to listen first and then act by investing our time in building personal relationships with our Ugandan partners."
Northern Uganda was affected by a conflict lasting more than 20 years. The conflict between the Ugandan People’s Defence Force (UPDF) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) ended in 2008 when the LRA left the region to hide in the forested area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. There is extensive documentation of the tens of thousands of civilians who were killed, raped, or abducted. A majority of these Ugandans were children who were forced to fight as child soldiers while their families were forced into Internally Displaced Peoples (IDP) camps throughout the region, depriving citizens of Acholiland (Northern Uganda) of basic needs such as clean water, healthcare, and privacy. All social opportunities, such as education, cultural activities, and sport came to a halt .
The people of Northern Uganda embrace resiliency through sport while gaining feelings of forgiveness and redemption. They look on in hopes of establishing widespread peace to their communities. Since 2008, relative peace has returned to Gulu and Acholiland along with many former displaced children and families. The wounds of war are deep and the communities slowly heal. Northern Uganda needs new, innovative, and non-intrusive tools to further enhance their progress.
Gainline Africa has designed a Community Leaders program to empower unemployed youth, and university students (aged 18-29), to lead our after-school rugby programs with secondary schools across northern Uganda. These leaders have been trained in IRB coaching skills, mentorship, first aid, and monitoring & evaluation.
Gainline Africa works with nine Community Leaders and ten volunteers in both Gulu and Kitgum region. The Community Leaders and volunteers who work to better their community and build the game they love while receiving mentorship, resources and counsel from our Canadian team.
“Participation in sports can serve to break down stereotypes, transform negative attitudes about ‘the others’, and empower communities to create a more homogeneous and less conflict-prone society.” – Hoglund & Sundberg, 2008.
Gainline Africa uses rugby as a tool for rehabilitation of youth and adult offenders in Gulu town. The project, piloted in 2013, has been launched in partnership with Gulu Remand Home and Gulu Prison. At each facility, Community Leaders visit inmates on a weekly basis to lead rugby training sessions incorporated with value-based learning that allows the groups to discuss values within themselves and how they relate to the greater community. This program runs year-round.
As equal partners, Gainline Africa works with its Community Leaders to offer after-school value-based rugby programs to students in secondary schools across northern Uganda. Rugby is then used as a tool to identify and address development issues within the community. Our programs are offered to nine different schools twice a week, and are facilitated by our trained Community Leaders.
Gainline Africa has designed the STAR program: Sportsmanship, Teamwork, Accountability and Respect. STAR focuses heavily on enhancing the capacity, imagination and motivation of the Community Leaders, so they can effectively engage their students and help them to become peaceful leaders in society.
A main component of the STAR program is the monthly volunteer work that all students participate in. These activities are organized with the Gainline Africa Community Leaders and executed once per month. In past years, students have participated in volunteer activities such as cleaning the hospital grounds, assisting at community funerals, planting trees and cleaning the school compounds. By promoting community work within their school club, each school is creating future leaders and better relationships with the community.
After 20-years of insurgency, the educational infrastructure in Gulu and Kitgum District has been destroyed. Only four per cent of the Ugandan population enrolls in post-secondary education. Gainline Africa’s scholarship program was created to advance education by providing scholarships, bursaries and awards to vulnerable and underprivileged youth in post-conflict areas of Africa.
Our team works closely with a regional selection committee and school administration. Our Program Director works within the participating schools to identify potential students for Gainline Africa’s scholarship program. The potential recipients of the scholarships are first interviewed and home visits are made. The accepted applicants join the university in August and also become a volunteer within the Gainline Africa Community Leader Program.
For Gainline Africa, orange represents unity, partnership and collaboration. Our orange laces symbolize our organizational goals. They symbolize partnership between the Canadian rugby community’s and post-conflict African rugby communities. Together, this partnership fosters and facilitates community development through sport.
By wearing orange laces, an individual, team or club can show that, while they may be busy running around, playing a game or walking the town, they are part of a team promoting sport for development – sport being used as a non-intrusive, efficient and cost-effective tool to assess and address many social and developmental issues that arise in post-conflict communities.
We are looking to get rugby teams, clubs, personalities, professionals and non-rugby players supporting us by wearing these laces, talk to their local communities and help us grow rugby in northern Uganda. Anyone is able to purchase these laces and can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gainline Africa’s Pitch-to-Pitch program unites a Canadian rugby team with one in Uganda. The Canadian school is introduced to their affiliate school and, after familiarizing themselves with the Ugandan team’s needs, work with the school to share their knowledge of rugby, provide resources and hold at least one fundraising event for their Ugandan club partner.
In return, the Canadian school will receive monthly updates on their partnered team and will have the opportunity to visit and through the Gainline Africa Coaches Tour.
Gainline Africa wants to empower youth here in Canada by giving them the opportunity to support Gainline Africa by leading fundraising initiatives in their own community.
As an ambassador, we provide you with the tools to fundraise, build awareness and educate your local community about the work we do. If you’re interested in becoming a Gainline Africa ambassador contact us here.
Each year, Gainline Africa hosts an annual Coaching Tour. The tour allows Canadian rugby coaches/players to participate in our community development programs, rugby coaching and training across northern Uganda.
As a tour member, participants are paired with a secondary school rugby club to assist in coaching, playing and community development. Tour participants will work one-on-one with Gainline Africa’s Community Leaders over a period of two weeks. They’ll volunteer in Gainline Africa’s post-secondary schools to coach rugby and contribute to community activities as mentors. Participants will experience Ugandan culture at a grassroots level, and build relationships with our Ugandan partners through a shared love of rugby.
We are looking for corporate support for the upcoming tournament. You may sponsor through financial donations or tournament prizes.
We offer vendors the chance to participate in the tournament with on-site sampling, merchandisers, and information booths.
We have a wide range of volunteer options no matter what your level of commitment. Contact us with your availability. We'd be glad to add you to our team!
I want to be a commercial farmer. We have family land and I’m hoping to start a piggery there.
I like being a Community Leader with Gainline Africa because the kids are interactive. When its joking time they joke. When it is serious time they are serious so its all easy for me. Rugby is a game where you can get rough yet at the end of the match you are all smiles with the opponent and this makes me feel happy.
People may think Rugby is a rough game but it is a game which unites everyone and it is a game with extreme discipline. Everyone in Kampala and around the world when they know you to be a rugby player, they know you are disciplined. I also like the respect; how everyone after the game is a family even though they have been at each other and playing hard. Everything is left on the pitch.
Being a part of Gainline Africa as a Community Leader has had a positive effect I would say because we are developing the community in terms of sport by providing leagues. Now people in the village are knowing more about rugby as the students are ambassadors. The pupils are also doing community work which other students would not have done so these are some of the benefits of the club.
Everyone calls me “Wangoo” – it means a fireplace. Here there is always a fireplace around when people gather for social events. I am called Wangoo because I’m always at these social events and use to wear a t-shirt with Wangoo on the back.
I like being a part of Gainline Africa as a Community Leader as it keeps me fit and relieves stress after a hard days work. I have also got to know so many people and allows me to interact with my community.
My nickname is Speedo. I got it in those days when I played basketball and I used to wear a Speedo vest. Most guys did not know me at the new school so they called me Speedo.
Being a Community Leader with Gainline Africa has helped me and my community a lot. The programme has expanded now to 7 schools and this year we held our first league. In the beginning I was having to do almost all the work and we were using our own money. We were only able to facilitate our transport with the prize money from the league and we could only visit each school maybe once a week as there were few coaches. Gainline Africa have really helped to reduce these burdens on coaches so we are now able to train more and better. I hope that with time we can get all schools in Northern Uganda to play rugby and maybe find a sponsor for both the schools and the district teams to match them up with the Kampala standards.
Community Leader & Gainline Africa Scholarship Recipient
Ronald Nyeko, is a 21 year old, Acholi student who currently plays rugby with the Kitgum Lions, in northern Uganda. Not only is Ronald a dedicated member of his rugby team, but he is also an outstanding leader in his community, strong student and a proud member of Gainline Africa’s Community Leaders Program.
Over the past few years, Ronald has shown his remarkable commitment to community development in Kitgum through rugby. Before moving to Kitgum, Ronald was a beneficiary of Gainline Africa’s after-school rugby program at St. Joseph’s College, Layibi for three years. It was at St. Joseph’s College that Ronald was first introduced to the game of rugby and began to develop his passion and talent in the sport. Having felt the benefits of playing rugby and knowing the difference it can make in peoples lives, Ronald wanted to share his experience with the youth in his home town of Kitgum. After a year of hard work and dedication, Ronald has helped to lead and facilitate the development of five school rugby clubs. Through Ronald’s efforts, youth in this post-conflict community now have the opportunity to participate in organized sport, build their leadership skills, develop teamwork, communication, respect and trust amongst each other
Being a Community Leader with Gainline Africa means a lot to me. To me, by the time I came to Gulu, I only knew my friends that played rugby. I never saw any school competition. Now with Gainline Africa, there is some great rugby in the community, it’s not just soccer anymore. Helping the Elephants and bringing coaches for the big team is allowing the players to learn more and know the rules well. The STAR Program has made the community know about rugby and they are promoting it in northern Uganda.
I started playing rugby out of curiosity. There were a couple of guys at school who played and they took me to Kampala Rugby Club. I watched and I liked it so we went back to school and tied up a volleyball into the shape of a rugby ball and began to play. We set up a club at our school and were coached by a Kenyan Student.
As a Community Leader with Gainline Africa, I believe rugby is important to my community as it teaches people to be confident. Personally I am a shy person but when I am on the pitch I am loud and off the pitch I am gaining confidence and becoming outspoken. Rugby required both your brain and your body and so when you come off the pitch you use the same methodologies in your life.
Administrator & Fundraising Guru
Brittany Cheeseman obtained an Honours BA in International Development from the University of Guelph. She then went on to obtain a post-graduate degree in Fundraising and Volunteer Management from Humber College, and has been working as a fundraiser within the non-profit sector ever since.
Having a love of adventure and travel Brittany has spent the past few years volunteering and living abroad. Recently she has moved to the big city, where she works to raise money for projects on both a national and international level.
Growing up in a small community strongly influenced by sport and having played rugby for a number of years, Brittany acknowledges the positive benefits sports and in particular rugby can have on an individual and within a community at large. She is passionate about creating new opportunities for youth in order to foster social change.
Head Coach, Program Developer
Director of Rugby Programming
Introduced to rugby in grade nine at the Brantford Collegiate Institute, Paul has been involved with the sport ever since and hasn’t looked back. As a young man growing up in Brantford, he found relief from his small-town woes working his way through the junior rugby program at the Brantford Harlequins’ RFC and up to the men’s first XV.
While attending the University of Western Ontario, on the extended education program, Paul played varsity rugby for the Mustangs for seven years, winning two OUA gold medals, five silvers, as well as captaining the team in 2007. He also captained the London St. George’s RFC while living in London.
Paul was the head coach of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues men’s rugby program from 2010–2013 and led them to one of their most successful seasons in 2011. Attending the University of Toronto in pursuit of a PhD in chemistry, coaching the team gave him much needed solace.
No longer able to play due to old age, Paul is dedicated to helping others reap the benefits that he experienced through rugby.
Director of Engagement
Michael is better known as Meatball, a nickname given to him by his fellow rugby mates, that has seemingly never disappeared (not that he hasn’t tried!). Embracing his new name, Meatball has experienced and embraced the positive effects that rugby has had on his healthy lifestyle, both physically and mentally. These benefits contributed greatly to his success as a rugby player on the pitch, representing Canada on both provincial and national teams. He also spent time playing overseas in England, experiencing the game at its highest levels.
Michael is currently studying business at Brock University, and has recently broken into the project management within the development/building market.
Acknowledging that anything is possible when individuals come together with common interests, Michael hopes to instil this theory in others through Gainline Africa. By teaming up with some of his best mates who share the passion for rugby, he intends to give back to the sport that gave him so much.
Director of Grants and Major Donations
Chad received his PhD in physics at the University of Western Ontario in 2013. He is an active rugby player for the London St. Georges Rugby Club and played for the Western Mustangs from 2004 – 2010, winning an OUA medal in each season.
Chad is currently working in Toronto, Ontario in the biomedical engineering industry.
Director of Finance
Justin is one of the founding members of Gainline Africa. Having graduated from Carleton’s Sprott School of Business, he is currently working in the financial services industry.
Having played rugby competitively on multiple teams, Justin has witnessed the positive impact the sport can have on individuals and the community it surrounds. He hopes to use his abilities to help Gainline Africa be the mechanism for social and community development in Gulu, Ugunda.
Director of Partnerships & Donor Relations
Not a big fan of writing, Tyler lets his words and actions do the talking for him both at work, in the workplace and on the pitch. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Tyler now lives and works in Toronto as a Commercial Real Estate Broker.
Tyler currently plays his rugby for The Balmy Beach Rugby Club.
Director of Community Outreach
Jesse Hayman is one of the founding members of Gainline Africa.
Jesse graduated from the University of Western Ontario (UWO) and currently works in the not-for-profit industry leading the Community Development team at Movember Canada. Movember is the world’s largest men’s health charity and funder of prostate cancer research.
He currently plays for the Aurora Barbarians RFC and throughout his tenure at UWO, he also played for the Western Mustangs. His career highlights may still lie ahead, but the two McCormick Cups he has won with the Aurora Barbarians are high up on his list.
Having experienced the impact that coaches and rugby can have on youth, he feels it is necessary to aid less-fortunate communities and countries to develop rugby/sport programs. The life lessons and sense of empowerment and cohesiveness that sport, specifically rugby, brings to individuals and communities is irreplaceable and powerful. Knowing this has inspired him to help through Gainline Africa.
Brand Narrator & External Relations Executive
Katrina King obtained an Honours BA in Communications with an Administration Option from Wilfrid Laurier University. She then went on to obtain a Public Relations Certificate at Humber College and has now been working in Communications for over 4 years for various clients including those in the healthcare, non-profit, and public sector.
She has a conscience for social change and a passion for cultural communication and its social, political, and economic dimensions. She believes that rugby is a valued African sport, posing as an uplifting developmental tool. Rugby also synchronizes Canadian and African rugby communities together, bridging the ideological divide between Africa and North America.
Katrina values both the cognitive and physical benefits competitive sports offer and believes they can deeply move an individual or community for the better.
A competitive football player from the age of 12, rugby was introduced to David in grade nine as a way for him to continue contact sports during the football off-season. Fifteen years later and David hasn’t stopped playing. As a hooker, David played for the University of Westen Ontario, winning one gold and three silver metals.
David is also a world traveler. Son of a pilot, David has traveled, worked, lived and roughed it on five continents. His travel overseas has allowed him to play rugby for clubs in Venezuela, Niger, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and the mecca of rugby: New Zealand.
Currently back home in Canada, David is pursuing a PhD rather then further adult-like obligations. He enjoys the rigours of academic life in the Exercise Sciences Department at the University of Toronto. He does his while enjoying time with friends and family.
Brand & Marketing Director
Kiel fell in love with Rugby at an early age. Since then, the sport has taken him on many amazing adventures. From winning a National Championship with Team Ontario in 2003, to representing Canada at World Junior Cups of Rugby in 2004 & 2005, Kiel has played on many great teams, travelling the world in the process. After captaining Queen’s University varsity rugby team, Kiel graduated as a four-time OUA All Star and Jim Tait award winner.
Kiel’s second love is Design. An OCAD graduate, Kiel has built a strong career in the industry. As a celebrated Art Director for a leading Advertising & Design studio in Toronto, Kiel has helped to develop some of Canada’s top brands.
As a founding member of Gainline Africa, Kiel hopes to fuse his love of rugby and design, creating an organization that develops and fosters the virtues of Rugby in the places it’s needed the most.
In February 2006, Andrea visited northern Uganda and has since returned four times. She now calls Uganda her second home. In 2010, she spent most of her year living in Gulu working with Athletes for Africa and volunteering with the Gulu Rugby Football Club (GRFC). She has seen first-hand what the GRFC and the Gulu Elephants will accomplish with the help of international friends like GA.
A graduate in African Studies from the University of Toronto, Andrea has a passion for the continent. While working with A4A, Andrea was the global GuluWalk organizer for four consecutive years. Here, she led GuluWalk leaders and volunteers in over 100 cities worldwide to raise awareness about the conflict in northern Uganda.
She is thrilled to be in northern Uganda assisting GA with new projects in Gulu. While working closely with the GRFC and the Gulu Elephants, Andrea hopes to provide everyone in Canada with up-to-date information, stories and pictures about the project and the team.
Keeping track of our friends, and keeping them informed is important to us! You can join our growing database of like-minded groups and individuals by joining or mailing list, or feel free to reach out to us with your individual questions or comments.
Also, we can always use more help! There’s a wide range of volunteer positions available. Please drop us a line to speak with us about your availability and volunteer interests.