Robert Achema standing 4th right with teammates in one of the academies
By: Bana Swaibu
The first thought one gets when the word Lugazi is mentioned is the concentration of sugar producing activities that dominate the area. Lugazi is a town in Buikwe District of the Central Region of Uganda 40 kilometres from the capital Kampala along the Jinja highway. Localisation of industries in the area attracted a mass settlement of people who came to look for employment opportunities and this explains its dense population. With this, people from different walks of life , cultures and races settled in the area. From all the activities they do however is playing football as a recreation activity and its from this, so many talents have been born and benefited the country in turn.
Footballers in Uganda are famously known to be bred from the townships of Masaka, Jinja Walukuba estates, Lukuli Makindye , Kawempe, Kamwokya, Luzira and many others but among these, not many Ugandan townships have been more bountiful for producing footballing prospects in recent years, it has been one of the biggest epicenters of talent in Uganda, URA football club hosts their games in this township as the Mehta stadium is located here.
Feni Ali being presented as the MVP Uganda cup 2014
THE FOOTBALL CLUBS:
A series of clubs have had their roots traced from Lugazi and some have gone a step further and played in the topflight division. They include, SCOUL, Buikwe Red star, Nalubaale and Lugazi United. Many local football supporters however believe that the SCOUL team of 2000-2001 is the best to have come from this footballing dynasty. They boasted of special talents like Ibrahim Kongo who later joined Express , Enock Kyembe , Alex Isabirye now Headcoach Soana FC, David Kiwanuka Tirika Now Assistant Coach Bul Fc , Tom Mukasa (RIP) formerly of Homeland s.s and Mike Jjuuko. This dream team tormented top Ugandan sides that visited Lugazi during the then Nile special super league.
The club was then under the patronage of Antony Kanyike who was an administrator in the Sugar corporation of Uganda at the time. He did not only support players in footballing aspects but also lobbied employment placements for them into the corporation.
The area has not only produced players but also coaches , these include
Richard Makumbi, David Kiwanuka Tirika now at BUL Fc, Coach Nsereko Wilberforce now in Sweden, coach Male Daniel now at Kibuli s.s , Ssebugwawo Zaggalo (RIP) Coach Ahmed Ssemanda also known as Kamaadi and Amasha Emile.
The legendary Makumbi was the first player from the area to feature in the super league, and he was the first son of the area to get a summon and play for the Cranes.
Makumbi’s record as a coach is a tremendous one, because he has led 12 clubs so far from the second tier to the topflight of Ugandan football, these include SCOUL, Bunamwaya now Vipers, Bidco, K/Mukono, Rock Star, Victors, Fire Masters, Lugazi United, Buikwe Red star, Iganga FC, Soana and most recently Mbarara city.
Richard Makumbi one of the prominent products of Lugazi
THE NOTABLE PRODUCTS
From the olden generation of Richard Makumbi, Sadique Wassa, Omba Simon (Kawunga agenda atya Mupiira Nagana) and others, many talents of the current generation are spread all over the footballing pyramid of Uganda, from the Super league down to the U17 elite league.
These among others are
Kisembo Douglas (Kcca), Lukwago Charles (Kcca), Keni Saidi (Proline), Kizza Adam (Kirinya Jinja s.s)
Nicholas Wadada Wakiro (Vipers), Agandu Fred (Bul), Ayiko Richard (Maroons), Sunday Steve (Maroons), Muledhu Faizal (Sadolin), Othieno Joseph (The Saints), Katongole Henry (Villa), Kamya Moses (Kirinya Jinja s.s), Asiku Emma (Proline), Makumbi Remmy (Express), Otong William (Mbeya city), Wasswa Paul (BS Kimanya and Buddu Saza), Wasswa Geoffrey (Vipers)
Feni Ali (URA), Buni Godfrey (Bul), Abel Eturude (Villa), Achema Robert(Villa ), Wadri William (Vipers), Ndera Mike (Villa), Ssentongo Farouk (Lweza), Kagimu Rahmata (Soana), Banga Farouk (Bright Stars), Lubega Titus (Bul), Kigongo Dickson (URA)
Anthony Bongole (Police), Kawadwa Joshua (Bright stars), Bayo Fahad (Proline), Sadat Anaku (Kcca U17), Aprem Martin (Vipers U17), Mutanda Bashir (Vipers)
Its common belief in Lugazi that Feni Ali is one of the most gifted midfielders in Uganda today and the best Lugazi has produced in recent years but to their hurtful disdain, their son of the soil has never been considered by the cranes’ technical team despite being crowned MVP of the Uganda Cup in 2014.
The area being a footballing hub, many notable administrators and judges of the game have hailed from here, referees include Aisha Ssemambo, Naigaga Habibah, David Odoi, Abbey Kawooya, Davis Wanyama all come from this area and have got FIFA badges. Administrators include Mwanje Joseph former chairman Buganda region and also Buikwe Delegate.
Nicholas Wadada of Vipers SC is also a proud son of Lugazi
All is not rosy in Lugazi, much as the area has managed to produce a host of glamorous talents, its believed that many of these make it because of sheer luck, persistence or hard work.
There is a general lack of facilities like better quality play grounds, sports academies, coaches training schemes and financial aid to support the upcoming talents and setups.
“The biggest challenge we have faced in Lugazi and am sure its facing the whole country is the persistent lack of funding, like me for example i have been in grassroot football development for quite a good number of years but financing has been our biggest handicap, we only rely on our personal savings, handouts and pocket money to run these academies which can never be sustainable as these kids need to feed, they need garments and kits, schooling and first aid facilities in case of accidents which are very common. It is imperative that the government or any well wishers that can extend any financial aid towards our academies to come out and save the game since football is now one of the avenues through which unemployment can be curbed.”
Says Coach Ssemanda Ahmed ( Kamaadi).
He is the director Lugazi young football Academy, he is a member Buganda football committee and Vice Chairman Buikwe football competitions committee, he has nurtured Nicholas Wadada, Lubega Titus, Banga Farouk, Buni Geoffrey, Feni Ali, William Wadri and a host of others.
Lugazi products regularly meet and play in reunion matches
URA hosts their home games in the Mehta stadium but the inhabitants of Lugazi do not feel fully attached to the team as one of their own.
Local schools like Lugazi Homeland SS, Risah Standard Academy, Equator College Lugazi, St Andrew Kitega, Hands of Grace SS and Mehta SS can nolonger compete with the footballing giants such as St. Mary’s Kitende, Dynamic SS, Kibuli SS and Nakaseke International college since their financial and structural input is way higher than that of the schools in Lugazi.