The Wait is Ova
Quinton Fortune of Manchester United and Benny McCarthy of FC Porto.

The Wait is Ova


Let the football begin.

By Lambert Rusoke
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First published: August 17, 2005


I wouldn’t be blamed if I joined the bandwagon in chanting the phrase “Football is coming home,” as the European season gets underway.


I should make it clear that am no European nor am I my anything near, and yet this is the kind of expectation I develop when the whistle is about to be blown. Its not that Ugandan football is not worth talking about, but the current circumstances of the Ugandan game don’t guarantee any points for discussion, save for patriotic reasons. Even if it were patriotic reasons, the recent masses that crowded Namboole, were simply there because stars of European teams like Quinton Fortune of Manchester United and Benny McCarthy of FC Porto were in town.

In Uganda the Premiership gets a lot of attention and has a lot of following compared to other European leagues. And it was a good climax to the European season. The English side, Liverpool, won the Champion League and this was enough to resurrect the local football fans to join in the debate of who is best in England, with Chelsea, Arsenal and Man-Utd being the other big boys in England.

The last three months or so have been characterized by the pre-season gossiping, as there was nothing else to keep the fans busy. Two years ago, the Big Brother Africa show, with our very own Geatano, took away the nostalgia. A year later, the European championship in Portugal did prevent us from the long wait, and surely this time, with nothing on the FIFA calendar, except for the confederation cup, we can’t just stop the anticipation. To some though, it was not too much of a wait as they had the Tour de France, the French Open, cricket and IAAF athletics to follow. But for sure, these are no match for football’s biggest following around the world.

It is no wonder that the popularity of European football continues to grow in Uganda. To start with, there is corporate sponsorship for victory parties of respective football fans. Arsenal usually leads the way, like it was a couple of weeks ago, at Kyadondo Rugby club. Liverpool did treat their fans to a big do after that dramatic win over Milan, and so did Chelsea. The fact that the fans have an executive that helps in registration of new members is truly being European in black skin.

If you walk down the streets in Kampala, it wouldn’t be easy for you to trace a person donning an SC Villa shirt, Express or U.R.A. It will all be Utd, Arsenal. The debates are about who is the best midfielder in the premiership, who will replace Veira at Arsenal, who is the best paid player and which goalkeeper has the record of longing in the goal posts without conceding. If I may just remind them that our very own Dennis Onyango is chasing a record of his own, they would surely blast off my talk as claptrap. The talking here doesn’t discriminate the social groups, ranging from working class, students, taxi-men, and boda-boda riders. “Soccer Came To Unite Man,” so they say. The artists here have even taken it to greater heights, as they’ve composed songs in praise of the respective clubs.

This scenario really depicts how Ugandan football has a long way to go if it is to regain the popularity it used to have. But to change such a trend, the football administrators have a high European mountain to climb. In the meantime, let the football begin. There are probably no happier people than the bar owners and video halls owners. If one does not trek Namboole for a super league match, the answer is simply European football.

By Lambert Rusoke
more from author >>
First published: August 17, 2005
Lambert Rusoke is a student at Makerere University Business School.
rlamptey2003@yahoo.com.