SC VILLA’S Patrick Kawooya is the flamboyant man who raised SC Villa to desirable summits.
SC Villa and Patrick Kawooya are words that will more often than not be stated in one statement. Like it or not he had what is described a little euphemistically as “an extreme desire for success” but he realized part of the attraction of football is its unpredictability.
“Uncle Pat” as he was commonly called, put everything on hold, invested exorbitant volumes of ‘dime‘, donated tirelessly and did whatever was required within his reach to make sure that the club turned out to be a foremost force in football.
Here is the football addict who made SC Villa a song that could be heard echoing in corridors, avenues and play grounds of Africa, Europe, and the far-east continents.
Who is Patrick Kawooya?
He is one of the notable figures in Ugandan football who loved the game so much that he dug into his own pockets, spending enormous amounts of money, to develop the game he cherished. This is very rare in Uganda, even in these days when the game is selling like a hot-cake world-wide.
Patrick Edward Mayengo Kawooya was born in 1947. He attended Kibinge Primary School and later Pilai Secondary School in Kampala.
It is during his school days that his interest in football grew, which was the late 1960’s. By then, Kawooya was an ardent supporter of Express F.C.
In 1972, as a potent young business man, Kawooya gained recognition when he started kindheartedly supporting Express F.C. By then the Red Eagles were one of the clubs ruling local football.
He regularly splashed cash to mammoth Express F.C fans from his Amazon shop, a business that was located in Kampala along Namirembe road.
Kawooya‘s efforts and love for the club later paid off as he become the Express F.C club treasurer. This came to pass when its founder Jolly Joe Kiwanuka had slipped in to exile due to political mayhem that punctuated the era at the time-This was 1973.
Because of his enthusiasm for the game, Kawooya took over the recruitment of the club there by uplifting the club stature winning the 1974 and 75 league titles.
However in 1977 Express F.C experienced problems after engaging army side Simba F.C in its operations. The no nonsense army football club was heavily supported and bankrolled by the then life president of Uganda Field marshal Idi Amin Dada.
In the same year Express F.C was banned, Kawooya went into hiding fearing arrest. However, he was cleared after intervention of his high-ranking friends in the army at a time.
He came out of oblivion but kept a low profile in football circles. After banning Express F.C, there was a vast vacuum in the football fraternity.
As Express F.C was inactive, its feeder club Nakivubo boys was active and since Kawooya was free; he decided to join Nakivubo boys. The latter was a strong force in lower division in 1979 : remember Kawooya had already made himself a big name at Express F.C in the past days.
The Nakivubo boys managed to join topflight but it was like a soap opera, as at the same time Express F.C was revived. Then Kamwokya bounced back. At this time it was planned that the two clubs to be merged under one umbrella.
This didn’t materialize as some top executives, specifically Kawooya, preferred that each of the clubs stay independent. When they failed to come to a consensus on the issue, Kawooya opted to rejoin Nakivubo Boys as its chairman.
From that time he took control in almost every activity of the club including recruiting new players. Kawooya then made a decision for which he is remembered to this day and possibly will be for decades, He changed the name from Nakivubo Boys to Nakivubo Villa and later to SC Villa.
The club’s logo was a cockerel. SC Villa’s training ground was named Villa Park.
Kawooya now deeply involved in SC Villa’s activities, improved lives of the players, buying them complete sports kits, paying their rent, meals and transport to and from wherever they went.
He actually injected a lot of his personal money into the club. When he recruited former national team coach George Mukasa, SC Villa shot to fame and stardom. In 1982 the club won the maiden Super league entirely unbeaten and from then on it became impossible to talk about SC Villa without mentioning Patrick Kawooya.
He was once quoted as one who liked doing things in his own way. “Do what I say, even though, it takes two to tangle.” Described as a man who didn’t listen to what others said, he went to the extent of personally signing players. This raised ‘dust’ and prompted unnecessary wars especially amongst his colleagues.
His soccer rivals accused him of flexing financial muscles by dwarfing other clubs both in status and stature, through attracting and soliciting best players from them. Having bags of money to splash on his club, Kawooya was a big spender.
In 1985 a big row erupted between him and KCC officials, over Godfrey Kateregga the left footed icon of the day. The rivalry resulted into Kateregga being sidelined for six months before Kawooya secured a ministerial directive to rule in his favor.
He was neatly connected to people in the corridors of power. He employed similar tactics to secure John Kaweesi and Charles Katumba joined from KCC.
In 1991, SC Villa and KCC F.C were at logger heads again. This time, for the then raising star Sam Mukasa. This time KCCA F.C swore that they are not letting “Mr. Spender” trounce them like a legendary fierce dinosaur. But has you know money talks, FUFA released Mukasa to Kawooya ’s SC Villa.
It was alleged on many occasions that he bribed referees, but Kawooya who had a blend of Ugandan best players was no match for the perpetrators of to such trivial nonsense. He always laughed off the accusations likening them to reporting a person to his best friend.
Furthermore, Kawooya promoted his business empire by sponsoring the Big league on TV through his well-known business, Olympic Motors. Fast forward months he secured a lucrative deal from oil giant Agip to sponsor the Jogoos. He made money from this deal ‘like there was no tomorrow’.
Kawooya made history as the club owner who sold the first Ugandan player outside the African continent. This was in July 1992. Magid Musisi a football super star of the day and re-known star striker was sold to French club Rennes for a reported one hundred twenty thousand. It was in the same year, that SC Villa also reached the CAF cup finals losing to Nigeria’s Shooting Stars.
In September 1993 it became evident that Kawooya lacked proper structures in the team. To add salt to injury, he suffered a stroke just days prior to his team’s continental match against Asec Mimosa.
In Kawooya’s absence no official had a clue about the arrangement of the match. Huge a mounts of the money from the club went missing.
It was this time that the executive later found out that the club couldn’t make the return leg in Ivory Coast. It pulled out. As a result the Uganda was fined by CAF, the mount that totaled up to $90,000. This was unbearable as fans convened at Villa Park and summoned Kawooya.
They asked him questions regarding the club finances including the whereabouts of the money got from Musisi’s mega money transfer to French side Rennes.
Kawooya was not “a kind of soup you would lick in a hurry,” he bitterly told fans, reminding them of huge amounts of money he had personally injected in the team. From this bitter confrontation, voices of discontent grew louder and calls for general assembly gained momentum.
December 17th 1993 was the fateful day. Most of the deliberations in this meeting were to hold fresh elections. Defiant Kawooya branded it illegal. Nevertheless the poll was conducted in his absence and Franco Mugabe went through unopposed.
Kawooya was whitewashed, he left SC Villa and formed Villa international shortly after wards. But Mugabe’s regime started with a bang securing the money from Musisi’s sale to France. In this case Kawooya was exonerated.
The wheels of misfortune by then were slowly being seen, the once named big spender failed to realize his dream of turning Villa international in to better club than SC Villa. His health gradually worsened due to stress and sadly on December 3Ist 1995, the man that once held the mantle of the team that was a darling of the country passed away.
Kawooya will always be remembered as a man who single-handedly elevated SC Villa to become one of the most if not the best football cub in Uganda, while spending from his own peruse without thinking of selfish gains.
MAY HIS SOUL REST IN ETERNAL PEACE.
A story told by David Wasswa.