Seeing Tonnie Bazongere, the affable SONA SPORTS HOME brother of mine joyfully and effortlessly kicking about a football gives me as much joy as the painful memories it does especially when I reminiscence the numerous friends, colleagues and Ugandan footballers in general who have had their soccer dreams shattered by the fateful curse called INJURY!
Bazo, as we fondly call him in our association of enthusiastic local sports fans, journals and administrators a.k.a. SONA was an aspiring footballer whose dream got extinguished many years ago by a left arm injury we have now come to know as a double wrist compound fracture. Being an agile defender, it was hard for him to effectively execute defensive duties without recurring the injury so he painfully opted to pursue a career in medicine. Currently, he is a doctor with experience in laboratory technology, orthopedics and pathology.
Early last year, he had an operation to treat another accident created leg injury and every time he attempts to juggle during SONA outings, we all hold our breath as the strong-hearts try to stop him. This background, combined with my earlier calling to help treat footballers’ injuries especially with my closest buddies and the players I manage has instigated a research on sports injuries and their remedies which has led me into visiting, interviewing and looking up lots of info related to the subject. From the most basic ones that require mere resting, massage or over-the-counter medication to the more complex ones which call for operations, yours truly has dug them up with immeasurable living examples on the local arena (just like our SONA spirit entails).
Read on…… INJURY is the damage to the body caused by an external force i.e. accident, fall, hit/ knock, weapon etc. and the state where the injury has potential to cause prolonged disability or even death is called TRAUMA. At the traumatic wards in Mulago, Case & Norvick hospitals, doctors like Dr. Victor, Dr. Justine Okello, Dr. Kakyama etc will tell you a lot about the major differences and, or descriptions of these injuries just like the legendary physicians who have handled most of our players i.e. Dr, Ntege Ssengendo, Dr. Ronald Kisolo, Dr. Jack Walugembe, Dr. Achilles Katamba and Mr. Nathan Wanaswa will also be handy because they have been there, done that for years.
In our upcoming write ups, we shall fully profile for you the various injuries and their remedies or treatment procedure since our learned friends the doctors are not ethically allowed to advertise their respective vocations. But today, let me give you a retrospective history of what injuries have done to the dreams of many a Ugandan footballer and of course the country which would have benefited from the potential greatness especially in the paid ranks.
KCC legend Jackson Mayanja had a stellar career in Egypt between 1993 – 95 where the El Masry faithful named him “Mia Mia” and when he signed for Tunisian giants Esperance in 1995, it looked like a smoother passage to Spain where several La Liga sides were tracking his exploits especially in the Cranes’ qualifying campaigns where he always topped the scoring charts despite Uganda having Magid Musisi. But all that was curtailed by a bad knee problem whose treatment the Tunisians feared to invest in and cancelled his contract. Distraught a bit, he came back and rested only to regain fitness in 1996 and rejoined KCC for whom he featured prominently even on the continent but seemed like the scouts had diverted their radar off him.
While researching about the knees, we have discovered that some of the most common injuries are; Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL), Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL), Iliotibial Band Syndrome (IBS), Meniscus tears, Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome and lastly, the Osgood-schlatter disease which is more common in younger players or adolescents. The doctors then obviously knew about these injuries but I doubt if we had special facilities for their treatment here because always Nairobi was the referral and it was too expensive I know.
This explains why gems like Hassan Mubiru, his namesake Richard Mubiru (Nsambya & Entebbe Works), Kibuli SS & Express left footed wizard Ally Ssemyalo, former KCC striker Mbowa Baker (who currently coaches Proline FC), Former Miracle Center and Police midfielder Richard Tugume and Villa legend William Nkemba cud not fully utilize their prodigious talents. Had William Nkemba (now Engineer) passed the medical at Nantes in 1992, definitely the statement of “the best defender Uganda has produced” would be having his name as contender without a doubt. But that right knee, only the doctors then can explain because I guess even he knew very little about. Another of the common musculo-skeletal injuries most Ugandan players have suffered is the ankle sprains and strains.
Ankles are highly susceptible to soft tissue damage (stretch and tear of the ligaments surrounding the ankle) caused during pivotal movements and sharp turns (change of direction) which puts too much pressure on those joints. Achilles tendonitis is another chronic case where pain is felt in the back of the ankle primarily due to overuse or consistent tackles from behind. Recently, Proline director Mujib Kasule suffered a rapture of the achilles tendon simply training with his colleagues but such an injury albeit on the heel (plantar faciitis) had affected the burgeoning careers of Nsambya, SC Villa and Cranes forward Ali Kayongo plus the popular tough defenders Deo Sserwadda p”kajambiya” and Abdu Nsubuga of SC Villa and Express respectively. Newly re-signed Proline defender Savio Kabugo parted ways with K.C.C.A. just recently and couldn’t hold up a deal at U.R.A. later on because of the drastic effect of a stress fracture that required a full operation and months of rest or light training to fully recover.
He may be playing again, thanks to God and the fact that this era is more enlightened about how to handle such situations (and ofcourse because his management team was more positive). such wasn’t the case back in the day when Express youngster Geoffrey Bukohore was apparently diagnosed to have a cracked shin bone in early 1995 (I believe it was a stress fracture because the symptoms are similar) and he had to wait til 1997 to make his Wankulukuku debut despite his immense defensive talent.
No wonder, when Paul Hasule (RIP) opted to trade him and Joseph Mutyaba for Andy Lule and Livingstone Mbabazi in the pre-season of 1998, the red Eagles didn’t think twice. Shoulder tendinitis and, or separation or dislocation have also featured prominently in our research because the story of Senegalese-born goalkeeper Ibrahim Mugisha a.k.a. sissoko is very common among longtime followers of our game. Groomed at KCC understudying both Sadiq Wassa and Bright Dhaira, the skillful and agile custodian never had a consistent run in goal because of a problematic shoulder injury that kept on recurring and even at Villa Park or the Cranes, his only undoing was the potential to snap up midway a game and grimace in pain.
U.R.A forward Henry Kisekka recently suffered a concussion during their 2-1 win over U.P.D.F at Namboole reminiscent of the one Miya Farouk once suffered against Rwanda during a CHAN game and also recently away to Egypt but, in history, Uganda Cranes coordinator Ntege Patrick was left with a permanent depression in his skull on duty for Express FC and its one of the reasons his career was cut shorter than his talent had promised. He had to travel to UK to secure specialist treatment.
SC Villa’s legendary playmaker Paul Mukatabala was often times accused of snubbing national team call ups because he always used such breaks to recuperate his numerous injuries including an acute back ache in a bid to be fresh for his beloved club and pay masters the jogoos. You only have to first engage him or then club physician Mr. Nathan Wanaswa to know how many painkilling injections he endured before and after each match and training session.
One of the less recognizable injuries I remember was a damaged thigh muscle sustained when an Adam Ssemugabi thunderous shot from a practice free kick hit him as he tried to dummy the wall and it nagged him like the infamous Roberto Baggio injury of 1994, could have been minor but it caused a painful knee in 1997 and again in 2004 (thigh) while he played in Vietnam.
Today SC Villa players looks confident, doctors helps them in preventing injuries, which will significantly increase their odds for staying in premier league at the end of the season, according to many Betting Sites. I could go on and on, but there will be a next time and we shall bring you quotes from the doctors, players, real analysis of the injuries and proven remedies for them.