College Sports

Coach recalls memorable trip to Africa

It was like a scene from an action movie, similar to the 1983 James Bond flick that saw 007 being whisked through the crowded streets of a small town in India in a miniature three-wheel, golf-cart-like taxi driven by the loyal Vijay.

Along the way, the cart was knocking over baskets and jars, jumping obstacle after obstacle, sending chickens and other small animals scurrying for safety while stopping occasionally to fight the evil Kamal Kahn's henchmen.

But that's the movies, a fantasy world, an escape from reality, and things like that don't happen to everyday people.

Winthrop assistant soccer coach Dan Ridenhour is quick to disagree.

Ridenhour found himself in an action movie-like mad dash recently through the crowded streets of Kampala, Uganda, sitting on the back of a motorcycle. It was just one of the wild and crazy things that happened to him during a recent 12-day trip abroad, where he did some recruiting and conducted coaching clinics.

"About all I can say was it was wild," Ridenhour said. "It just happened to be the same day that (Libyan leader) Muammar Gaddafi had arrived to dedicate a mosque. So, the streets were extra crowded."

It was, as Ridenhour summed up in a portion of his daily blog, a harrowing, but in the end comical, experience.

"Got a late start to the morning, which is never good here," the blog read. "Got in the car at 7:30 a.m. to head to training. We ran into a jam. Surprised not. Moses (Ugandan Cranes full national team) and I decided best at 8:15 a.m. that he could not miss the session. We needed to be there by 9 a.m. No way in the jam! So what to do?

"We made it out of the car on the interstate and summoned two Boda-Bodas (motorcycle taxis). Agreed on the price, and off we go for a 40-minute ride to Mandela National Stadium. Weaving through traffic. Stop and go. Going the wrong way. Taking back alleys. Pretty much breaking any driving law in the United States.

"We ran four red lights and weaved through a maze of traffic. I am on this Boda and people are shouting 'Brad Pitt! Brad Pitt!' Now I know I have no resemblance to this man apart from that I am Muzungu (white). It was classic. People start chasing my Boda. How I wish I had a helmet cam! It would have made for a great Hollywood scene. It was all comical."

But there was a more serious side. A side of the country Ridenhour could never get away from. Sights and sounds that left a lasting impression.

It made Ridenhour appreciate more what current Winthrop players Stephen Nsereko and Henry Kalungi, a pair of All-Big South Conference selections, went through growing up.

The main reason Ridenhour, who just completed his fourth season at Winthrop, made the trip was to identify players, like Nsereko and Kalungi, who could help the Eagles next season and down the road. There were days he watched three matches.

"I'm glad to be back."

What did he remember most?

"I'll remember all the soccer," he said. "It made me really appreciate what we have over here.

"But I visited a school and was taken to a nursery. There was a little (3-year-old) girl that came up, grabbed me and wouldn't let go for probably about 15 minutes. She kept saying 'Muzungu. Muzungu. Muzungu,' She wanted me to take her home with me.

"That left a lasting impression."

• NOTE: Winthrop signed seven players for next season on Friday.

Joining the soccer team will be Moses Ukoth Aduny, Michael Azira, Matt Horn, Matt Lacey, Jacob Lee, Josh Mort and John Michael Kulnig.

Aduny and Azira hail from Uganda. Horn is from North Mecklenburg High School. Lacey is a junior midfielder from Manchester, England, and is transferring from Lees-McRae.

Lee is a midfielder who plays for Northview (Ga.) High School. Mort is from Sherando (Va.) High School. Kulnig is from Main South (Ill.) High School.



At Manchester Meadows

(2007 record in parenthesis)

Session I

Carlisle Field

Noon -- South Carolina (11-6-2) vs. Old Dominion (14-7-3)

1:45 p.m. -- Clemson (7-11-1) vs. UNC Greensboro (11-8-2)

Brannan Field

10:45 a.m. -- UNC Wilmington (4-13-1) vs. Charlotte Eagles (11-7-2)

12:30 p.m. -- Winthrop (11-4-3) vs. College of Charleston (13-5-1)

2:15 p.m. -- Kentucky (7-10-2) vs. Furman (19-4)

Session II

Carlisle Field

3:30 p.m. -- Northwestern vs. Dorman

Brannan Field

4 p.m. -- Fort Mill vs. Spartanburg

Session III

Carlisle Field

5:30 p.m. -- Winthrop vs. UNC Wilmington

7:15 p.m. -- College of Charleston vs. Kentucky

8:45 p.m. -- Furman vs. Charlotte Eagles

Brannan Field

6 p.m. -- UNC Greensboro vs. South Carolina

7:45 p.m. -- Old Dominion vs. Clemson

• Tickets: $12 for adult tournament pass. $7 for children under 12 and students with a valid ID. Group rate of $10 a person for 10 or more and $5 for children and students.

Ticket stub can also be redeemed at the Charlotte Eagles game against the Richmond Kickers at 7 p.m. on April 25 at a discount price of $6 for adults and $4 youth. Ticket stub must be presented to get discount price.