A few months ago, we connected with Innocent Mbabali from Uganda. He messaged us with such amazing enthusiasm that we knew we had to hear his hockey story. Innocent is ready to take the LEAP to compete abroad, and we are happy to help him open the doors to a club of great fit and other opportunities within the global hockey community. Here’s Innocent’s story:

Innocent Mbabali’s hockey love affair started when he was just five-years old. The passion and dedication he had for his sport helped Innocent in many ways, including through a hockey scholarship that supported his high school education.

As a player, hockey involvement and traveling for tournaments has gained Innocent the respect and friendship of other players throughout his country and all of East Africa. Innocent plays as an attacking or defensive midfielder and is a talented goal scorer and playmaker. He was named the Male Hockey Player of the Year by the Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA) for 2016-2017 and was also awarded the 2016 MVP Award in the Ugandan National Hockey League. These honors are only two of a long list of Innocent’s hockey accomplishments, all of which can be found on his LEAP Worldwide profile.  Watch the video below to get a snapshot of innocent, his dedication and skills!

 

 Adding on to his already impressive athletic background is his experience and skill as a coach. Innocent started a hockey program for young players aged three to 17 called Hope for Sport Uganda Hockey Academy, which is supported by the Hockey Dreams Foundation, an organization that sponsors hockey development on a global scale. Through this academy, he has formed a women’s team, which is where he currently serves as head coach. His women’s team won the Uganda National Hockey League, which led to Innocent being awarded Coach of the Year for both the 2015/2016 and 2016/2017 seasons. Innocent says, “I love coaching because I really want to see people moving towards a good life through the help of hockey.”

Innocent is happy with his hockey career so far, as forming a hockey academy in Uganda and succeeding as a player in East Africa are goals he has been able to see through. Now, he’s ready to focus on what he calls the biggest dream of his life: playing hockey abroad. He says, “…(it’s a dream) to play abroad in one of the biggest hockey playing countries…and to also be a great representative of my country Uganda and East Africa at large.” We asked Innocent where he wants to play abroad, and it’s obvious he’s not picky: “I would like to play in England, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain, Germany, and many others,” he told us.

Innocent sees the value in an abroad experience not just for himself, but for other players from Uganda and East Africa as well. He shared with LEAP the significance of him being able to share his knowledge and experience from overseas with his fellow National Team players and the general hockey community in his home country. He’s looking forward to a “new life, new friends, and…(growing) as an individual, a player, and a coach”.

One reason LEAP was created was to help break down borders, allowing great talent to access to great competing opportunities regardless of what country they come from.

Innocents situation reminds the LEAP Team of a conversation they had with Kwan Browne,  a well respected coach and player now living in England who is originally from Trinidad & Tobago. He discussed how there are so many talented players from countries not known for their hockey who would love to play abroad, but they are not known because their team doesn’t play in champions trophy or the Olympics.  The lack of global connections, make it difficult to get access to the opportunities. Innocent, may be just the type of athlete Kwan was referring to, and we refuse to stand by while amazing players miss out on abroad opportunities! LEAP is here for all players, from all countries. This is sport as it should be!

As a hockey community, let’s join in and help Innocent achieve his dreams and get overseas! If you’re a coach looking for a talented player or a player on a team that’s looking for a new import, Innocent may be your man! Sign up with LEAP Worldwide and you’ll have access to all of Innocent’s information (plus that of hundreds of other athletes). Our community is always growing, and there’s always a place for you in it! Click below and join today.

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For some other links on Innocent:

Article about Innocent playing in Kenya

Video of Innocent drag flicking against Kenyan Goal Keeper