BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Athletes from around the world are competing in the lacrosse world championships in Denver, including a team from Africa. Team Uganda is the first lacrosse team to ever represent Africa—and several Marylanders helped make it happen.

Jessica Kartalija has more.

For 18 amateur athletes in Africa, it’s a dream come true.

The team formed just three years ago when the non-profit fields of Growth International built a lacrosse compound in Kampala. Now they’re playing among the best in the world.

Getting to the championships in Denver wasn’t easy. Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, a former Team US lacrosse player himself, sent a letter to the US Embassy in Uganda, urging them to approve visas for the players.

“Conditions for a lot of these players is so poor. They come from villages where they are hiding in the jungle and their family was dying of AIDS and immigration was concerned they would come here and stay,” said Ruppersberger.

Up until last week, the team wasn’t sure they’d be allowed to travel.

“They trained the entire year unknowing if they would actually travel and it shows these guys that hard work does equate to success. It does pay off,” said Aimee Dixon.

Much of the team’s coaching staff comes from right here in Baltimore. Head coach Andrew Boston played for Loyola Blakefield; team manager Josie George played at Bryn Mawr; Coach David Kelly is from Calvert Hall and general manager Tyler Steinhardt played at Boys Latin.

“The experience isn’t what happened on the field but the relationships and what we can develop and the transformational experience that are provided out of this process,” said an official.

The visas will expire at the end of the tournament. Fourteen players with ties to Maryland are playing for Team USA at the championships.

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