When the Directors of Rhinos International announced through a press conference in Kampala about the birth of the super six Inter University Football league, many a soccer enthusiastic received the news with profound joy.
They had truly identified a gap that was missing on the co-curriculum menu of the top learning institutions. Little wonder, therefore, when the league was officially opened at Nakawa in September, a mammoth crowd turned up to catch a glimpse of the beautiful game between hosts, MUBS and Nkumba University.
Fans’ Passion for the game
With the Continued wrangles between FUFA and Uganda Super League, the footballing fraternity, with an already biased and frustrated mind, many saw the University league as an escape route to enjoying their long gone delight.
Observably, fans from all walks of life (Students, non-students and the corporates have always turned up in zillions to cheer on the games. Besides provision of entertainment, the games have offered the students that anticipated breather off their usually busy academic schedule.
Corporate Sponsorship and Branding
The organizers perfectly did the ground work of luring Nile Breweries, Rwenzori Mineral Water and Crown Beverages onto the board to help with the administrative, financial and logistical assistance. The hefty cash prizes for all the participating Universities have motivated the players and officials to strive for the very best.
Each of the six participating institutions received a set of jerseys with sponsors’ logos well scripted on them. Refreshments have been provided for the teams. The stadia have been well branded with the sponsors’ bill boards.
Most importantly, the league, that also runs a well updated website (www.ufl.ug), has received relatively great publicity in Uganda’s contemporary print and electronic media circles. Sponsors had for long shunned away from football for its long endless wrangles which in a way or two affect the credibility of the willing corporate companies associated with therein.
Fertile ground for talent grooming
The quality of the game has been mesmerizingly awesome. The league will be credited for exposing the untamed indigenous talents that have been unearthed. Players like Nkumba’s Mugerwa Yassar, Nsubuga Dan, Kikoyongo Jonathan, Faizo Muwawo, KIU’s goalie Ssebayiga, Magulumali Mukama and Yusufu Muhammed, Makerere’s Dan Kasoma, Kyambogo’s Edu Ismael, Adriko, Mubiru Godfrey, and MUBS’ Waluluya have been outstanding. National team under age technical committees ought to keep a keen eye on such unique and splendid talents.
Experienced referees like William Ssenkumba, who handled the historic Namboole Stadium opening fixture have perfectly officiated the games under the watchful eyes of respected match commissioners like Katumba Wamala.
The deadly vice that has stained this otherwise well organized football tourney has been the rampant crowd violence. Close to three matches (involving Kyambogo, Makerere and Nkumba Universities) were aborted due to crowd trouble. This has emanated the egos that exist between the rival universities’ fans. Add the fact that the soccer grounds do not have that required perimeter fencing, the players and game officials’ safety put at a great risk.
The league manager, Anthony Tumwesigye reasons that there was laxity of the security on the field of play. “The police were partly to blame for their failure to control the swelling crowds in the aborted games”.
In fact the league organizers decided to change venues for the problematic fixtures. One of the rescheduled games (Nkumba-Kyambogo) was successfully played at a neutral venue (Kavumba Recreational Stadium), where no fans were allowed access.
This is just season one of the league, whose future is clearly envisaged as bright and promising. Thumbs up to Rhinos International, rectify the weaknesses in this inaugural tourney for a better tomorrow.