The 2014 volleyball season was filled with a lot of action from various individuals who used their skills and talent to keep the fans on the edges of their feet. Not to mention the nail-biting thrillers that fans used to enjoy not only in Kampala but also upcountry tournaments. Kawowo Sports’ Clive Kyazze was obviously blown away by some of those. He shares his 2014 dream team.
Smith Okumu (Nemostars): in the 2013 season, Okumu played every minute of Nemostars, games, this season he played 98% of the matches his side competed in. Even after the side signed Derrick Kazooba from St Mary’s Kitende, the teenager’s approach towards training forced Okumu to make an appearance even when it wasn’t necessary. Okumu guided Nemostars two of the four most prestigious titles of the season, the National Club Championship and the Dr. Aporu Okol Memorial.
Dickens Otim (Sport-S): He remains the best middle player this country has seen for the last five seasons. Otim might have failed to win the league with Sport-S but he was exceptional with his block in the later stages of the regular season. Nemostars struggled to penetrate him in the semifinals. Otim was as good on attack; reception, service and court cover just like he was with his block. Not shocked that he as announced 2014 MVP and claimed the best blocker and receiver’s gongs too. He was also voted best attacker as Sport-S finished third at the 2014 Rwanda Genocide Memorial.
George Aporu (Nemostars): The name that will come second to every coaches list after Dickens Otim if not first. Aporu is still the undisputed best attacker in this country, but one player who can also play across the park. He makes the team as a middle blocker because it’s a position he has been called upon to play every time his club struggled in that department. It’s no mistake that for the second year running, Aporu has been ranked among the top six blockers on the continent at club level even though Nemostars have failed to leave the group stages of the competition on both occasions.
Emma Kato (Sky): Regarded to be the best receiver attacker in the country, Kato guided sky to promotion in Serie A, but he will be most remembered for his performance at the 2014 NSSF KAVC International, he played his best volleyball in three if not four years. Kato’s reception through the tournament was sparkling; his attack was lethal especially on the backcourt. Kato and Sky defeated 2013 winners Inatek 3-1 but had earlier seen off KAVC in the semifinals. Kato even attracted attention from Kigali Volleyball Club, a Rwandan club which participated in the tournament.
Amou Tom Paul (Nemostars): Many have argued that you can’t have Kato and Amou on the same team at the same time. But you won’t find many ‘receiver attackers’ or ‘attacker receivers’ in the actual sense of the two words. Nemostars lost three straight regular season game (Sport-S 3-1, UCU 3-2 and Nkumba 3-0) and better placed volleyball brains put it down to Amou’s absence. That meant that Nemostars went into the playoffs as third seed, not top seeds like it had been in the earlier two seasons. That is not the reason he even makes the list but is performance at the 2014 Africa Club Championship in Sousse, Tunisia where he was Nemostar’s best player.
Ivan Ongom (Sport-S): Just like Otim, Ongom failed to win the league title with Sport-S, but unlike Otim, the 22 year old was instrumental in all the three titles (Makerere Open, Ndejje Open, KIU Open and Nkumba Open) Sport-S won this season. He is most remembered in his debut tournament with Sport-S- Makerere Open. Ongom tormented teams with his left hand. In the final they played sky and much as Warren Muhangi orchestrated the attacks, Ongom was a pain in Sky’s block and court cover. The story was never different in Ndejje, Nkumba and KIU. He was actually named MVP in the latter.
Emmanuel Elanyu (KAVC): A reception Libero he has been tagged, Elanyu made the job of a libero look so easy this season. Asif he struggled in the previous ones. You can argue disagree if you want but Elanyu was the difference between KAVC winning the league title and Sport-S losing it (Defensively). Only close candidate is Sport-S’ Stephen Oguti, who bookmakers prefer to define as a defensive libero since his reception is not top notch. Elanyu was probably a better game reader than Oguti this year.
Shila Omuriwe (KAVC): She didn’t win much in her second stint as coach of KAVC, but Omuriwe led KAVC to the UCU Open but also the biggest title in the land, the NSSF Volleyball League since 2010. She beat nine male coaches to achieve the feat. She wasn’t only the first female coach to lead a men’s side to league glory in Uganda but the continent as well.
Others who would deserve special mention
Setters: Albert Gayi (Sport-S), Warren Muhangi (Sport-S), Martin Kalema (KAVC)
Power Attacker: Kathberth Malinga (Nkumba Navy), Nepo Mohamed (Nkumba Navy)
Middle players: Cyprian Uwimana (Sport-S), Eric Ojamuge (Nemostars), Savior Atama (KAVC), Sammy Kagayi (Nkumba)
Opposite: Daudi Okello (KAVC)
Liberos: Stephen Oguti (Sport-S) Joseph Opeto (Nemostars)