The Chargers, while partnering with the NFL, worked with the U.S. Department of State and espnW's Global Sports Mentoring Program to bring entrepreneur and sports journalist Ritah Aliguma of Uganda to Costa Mesa recently for days of engagement and learning more about the operations of an NFL team.
Aliguma is the founder of the Aliguma Foundation — a community-based, non-profit organization that operates in Acholi Quarters — one of the largest slum settlements for displaced Acholi people in Kampala, the capital of Uganda.
The foundation implements projects that focus on empowering women and children through sports. She also was a big part in organizing the foundation's annual soccer tournament which provided the Acholi people opportunities to connect through sport.
Aliguma was able to spend time with the Chargers at Hoag Performance Center and was mentored by Megan Bell, the Chargers Vice President of Business Intelligence & Ticketing She later spent time in New York with Taryn Hutt, the NFL's Vice President of Club Marketing, at the league office.
Aliguma studied numerous departments while with the Bolts, talking and learning more from members of the organization as part of the program.
The people Aliguma was able to talk to throughout her time here is something that she said has high value, as she has been able to take away a lot that she will be able to use herself as a leader.
"It's been a very good experience working around people [with the Chargers]," Aliguma told Chargers.com during her time with the team. "Even having meetings and engagements with people in leadership positions and how they treat these other meetings has been really exciting. I'm humbled."
"All the meetings I've gone, all the engagements I've had, I have learned a lot from there and I will implement some of these things back home," Aliguma later added.
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In addition to getting to know the inner workings of the Chargers, she was also able to experience SoFi Stadium and a game atmosphere during the Week 8 Sunday night matchup against the Bears.
Aliguma was able to go on the field before the game and take it all in, as being in the stadium for her was a moment of reflection about a memory she had about the kids in her foundation in Uganda.
"It was an amazing experience. I was relating that moment with our kids back in Uganda," Aliguma said. "I remember one time I asked the kids what they really wanted, and they told me they wanted to go and attend one of those big [European football] games. That looked like a joke at the time, but it came to reality. I started thinking about that when I stepped on the turf."
"I always pray that a certain point maybe that will also come to pass for a Ugandan child," Aliguma added.
The time spent with the team is something Aliguma has reflected on, and something she's excited to apply in her work.
"I'm trying to really equip myself and make myself a better leader," Aliguma said. "I've been telling my team that I really want to become a better leader when it comes to management skills, financial skills, because I've been exposed to all of these departments. I really want to get better with the team."
Aliguma later added: "Being [here] with the LA Chargers is a big deal. There's a lot of excellence here… There is so much to take back home, there is so much to reflect on, and I just feel blessed, and I appreciate the opportunity that the LA Chargers have also given me here."
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