Ugandan prisons are encouraging team spirit among prisoners by organising volleyball competitions.
At the Murchison Bay prison, a section of the Luzira prison complex, those involved are mostly aged between 22 and 35.
Louis Majwala is an inmate who heads the sports department.
“We are confined in one place and we need ways to release stress, sports is one of them. There are many guys who are talented in volleyball, football, board games, athletics and sports gives them a chance to bring their talents out. And when they are playing they feel alive, they are healthier and it encourages teamwork, friendships are formed, peace prevails. And on days when there is no sports, you can feel the tension in the air,” he said.
Some of the prisoners have won medals in volleyball.
Practicing sports suppresses the fear of being in jail and the days pass faster. Prison officials use the game as a management tool.
“If I am to rehabilitate them, I need to show love. And you know with sports there is a lot of passion, you become close to them and when they feel you are with them, they get relaxed,” Selestino Twesige, officer-in-charge at Murchison, said.
The Marchison Bay prison organises three major tournaments every year. Most of the players in the volleyball team were never engaged in any sports competition before imprisonment.
The prison is overcrowded and the current number of inmates is thrice the intended capacity of a facility meant to accomodate about 600 inmates. The Murchison Bay prison currently accommodates about 1,700 prisoners.