Yes you read it right, he is Martin Sekooto, a Muganda hailing from the Western district of Ibanda. Son to Mr. Martin Kalanda and Asumpta Kalanda
How did Senkooto come about? “It was a spelling error done during the printing of my shirt at SC Villa but I decided to take it on and even have it for my social media pages. I think the fans loved it but I hope it will be rectified next season to have my true identity.” The soft spoken youngster clarified.
Prior to the 3rd end of the season, very few knew about this courageous and fearless goalkeeper who took his chance by both hands.
Villa had been dealt a goalkeeping crisis in May after Meddie Kibirige opted to represent Uganda at the AFCON Beach soccer tournament in Senegal and his automatic cover Saidi Keni sustained an injury.
A vacuum was created in SC Villa’s goal and Edward Kaziba was left with no option but to blood a rookie in Martin “Senkooto” to start in goal against Police FC.
Villa were battling a very unfortunate run of close to 8 games without tasting victory and were in dire need to have a turnaround in results.
The youngster produced a series of match winning saves and left many wondering who the unknown chap was in the Villa goal.
“I couldn’t wait more for my chance, when coach Edward told me that it was me to start in goal against Police FC at Lugogo, I got so excited and thrilled that my dream was finally going to come true”
“An opportunity had befallen me to prove to all my doubters wrong that I was actually ready for the big stage”
The doubters had all reasons to be sceptical anyway. Senkooto had not played any top level football before anywhere save for being part of Charles Ayiekoh’s MUBS side that competed in the University league in 2017 and also won the East African University championship in Dodoma 2018.
“I had the courage and drive to provide a perfect example for all the young aspiring goalkeepers that would like to play in the top division. I was advised to first try playing in the lower divisions but I had faith in myself to perform at a more competitive level.”
After starring against Police FC, next in line was a home game against relegation fighting Kyetume FC at Bombo. Kaziba handed Senkooto his home debut and a chance to win over the Jogoo faithfuls.
“That was even more sweet because I kept a clean sheet and was named man of the match at the end. The fans sang my name and gave me money in appreciation of what I had done. I felt 5 inches taller and realised the good times are ahead of me”
Towards the end of that match, Senkooto and his central defender Geoffrey Wasswa had a miscommunication that led to a foul on Cephas Kambugu which prompted referee Ronald Madanda to point at the penalty spot with only a minute left on the normal regulation time.
Luckily, Robert Sentongo fluffed the ball onto the woodwork and Senkooto put the rebound to safety and Villa earned their first victory after nine times of trying.
Did the Milton Karisa ghost goal actually go in?
Edwardo Kaziba maintained faith in his newly found star and Senkooto was named to start in goal against Vipers SC at St. Mary’s Kitende in the first leg of the quarter finals of the Uganda cup. Despite falling to a second half Lawrence Tezikya strike, Ronald Sekiganda managed to hand Villa a lifeline with a header in the late minutes of the game to set up an interesting return leg at Bombo.
A few questions were asked of whether Kaziba will again stick with Senkooto in goal even after the return of Meddie Kibirige from international duty. The tactician went for continuity since the youngster had not done any harm.
Vipers went in front through a deflected free kick by Bobosi Byaruhanga which was attributed to Derrick Ndahiro. It was however Vipers’ second goal that drew controversy, being that it hit the top bar and went out. The assistant referee waved for the goal and Ronald Madanda called for the ball to be restarted in the centre. Many to this day believe it wasn’t a goal and so does the man who was in the thick of action.
” It is quite unfortunate that I have not gotten a chance to review it again on video but to this day I don’t believe it crossed the line. Even Milton Karisa’s reaction after hitting the top woodwork tells it all. It was as if he was simply reminded by the assistant referee to celebrate his goal. ”
Like any youngster, Senkooto moulds his game on Chelsea’s UEFA champions league winner Edward Mendy, and his teammate Meddie Kibirige.
” I always look up to Kibirige, he has always given me guidance and he picks up whenever I get self doubt and down. Internationally, it is Edward Mendy for me, his story is like mine, from nowhere to the big things. I believe one day I will be up there with the best”
Senkooto dreams of getting far in education too, he is a graduate with a bachelor’s degree of science in finance and he plans to go for a postgraduate degree abroad or even here.
Competition is bound to be more stiff next season because Saidi Keni and Meddie Kibirige will all be available for selection but Senkooto refuses to be taken aback by that.
“I have never been recruited as first choice at all the teams I have played for but along the way, the place became mine. From competition I draw my strength to fight on and improve myself ”
” I am currently working on my weaker foot and ball distribution which is a very key attribute in the modern game.”
The current season is yet to be completed after being called to a halt by the central government following an upsurge in the COVID pandemic.
It remains in the hands of Edward Kaziba to either stick with his newly found custodian or revert to the tried and tested duo of Keni and Kibirige but one thing for sure is that Senkooto is determined to fight a place he now calls his own.
He is adored by the Villa fans already and that gives him more zeal to get far. “I just want to thank them more for having trust and faith in me. They are the sole reason I put my heart on the sleeve and fight for the team.”
Perhaps by next season, they will also be able to revert from knowing him as Senkooto to Sekooto.