Think of Walukuba estate as a football community and the first name to strike your mind will be Charles Jalendo.
Born in 1967 to Pascal and Corrina Jalendo, Charles Jalendo is the first born of the twelve children in this famous family.
He went to Main Street Primary School in Jinja for his lower primary before joining a nearby school Walukuba west for his primary four to six. He later joined Jinja army for the rest of his primary.
Addicted to the football game, a talented Jalendo didn’t continue with his studies. He was a senior one student at Jinja Public (now St. Peters) when Jinja Central Market (now JMC Hippos) came calling.
This is when he dropped studies and opted to embark on a different journey. The rest as they always say is now history.
As a teenager, the soft-spoken lad trained from Tobacco a popular ground in Walukuba that has seen most of the estate’s legends develop their talents from. This is where his astonishing talent coupled with a dazzling football brain caught Charles Kirya’s [Jinja central market] eagle eye.
A person as assiduous as himself, Jalendo was a playmaker and a team player too who would use his dribbling skills to the benefit of his team. He was a very popular player amongst his teammates and was loved by many because of his style of play. His articulate passing was an attribute that attracted many.
After series of vivid displays with Jinja Central Market, Kirya handed him over to Nile’s Mathew Lucha in 1987. While at Nile, his unbelievable talent outclassed his teammates’ as confirmed by the legendary journalist Badru Zziwa.
He was an extremely talented player. One of his outstanding abilities was ball control, and he was also a dribbling wizard who was blessed with blazing pace. He’s undoubtedly the best player to ever play for Nile.
His industrious style of play in a midfield trio of himself, Micheal D’ogu and Matia Serugonda ensured he emerged as the club’s top scorer in 1989.
By 1990, it had become obviously inevitable for his performances to go unnoticed even when Nile struggled in the league and even when they eventually got relegated. This gave a green light to league giants like KCC, Villa, and Express who had already shown interest in him to come yearning for his signature.
It was the yellow boys who eventually landed on his signature. He joined KCC in 1991 amidst talented superstars like Jackson Mayanja, Sam Simbwa George ‘Best’ Nsimbe. But even with the above Arsenal at the team, Jalendo a new recruit always found his way to the starting lineup, thanks to his versatility.
In his first year at KCC, the Kasasiro boys played against BTV Madagascar in the first round of the Cup winners’ Cup. Jalendo mesmerized everyone when his man of the match heroic performance ensured KCC came from a goal down to win the tie 3-1 in a game dubbed as ‘Jalendo’s best’ by veteran Zziwa.
The game against BTV was by far Jalendo’s best. He single handedly lifted KCC to win that match. He assisted Mayanja’s goal which was an equalizer and later cemented the victory with that third strike to make it 3-1. He was absolutely splendid on that day.
In mid-1992 when Mayanja left for the paid ranks, all eyes were set on Jalendo to lead the team given the fact that Ssimbwa was always on and off due to injuries. The team needed someone to fill the void left behind by Mayanja and someone to draw inspiration from. That person was thought to be Jalendo the now 49 year old.
But unfortunately for the KCC faithful, the midfielder stayed for only one more year. He returned back to Nile in 1994. The Nile management promised to put his name in the company’s payroll. This obviously acted as an incentive.
However, when SABMiller a South African company took over management shortly after Madhvani had, the idea of dissolving the club started cropping up. SABMiller were not interested in anything football and therefore decided to leave the club in the hands of the fans.
This in all sense indicated that the club was headed nowhere so Jalendo decided to retire and put much emphasis on his job.
Jalendo as a player didn’t enjoy the national team. Matter of fact, he was summoned only once for CECAFA and that was in 1992 and this was due to the ongoing Villa continental activities. The team set off for Tanzania without any Villa player. This is how a national team call up presented itself to Jalendo.
“Jalendo was so unfortunate to have played in an era that had immensely talented and hard-working players in his position. Players like Steven Bogere, Jackson Mayanja, Robert Aloro were all part of the Cranes set up so it was very hard for him. The competition was too high” commented Zziwa.
He was also part of the Cranes team that was invited by Kenya to participate in Uhuru tournament in Nairobi but it was a non-competitive showpiece.
It’s bewildering knowing that a player so marvelously talented like Jalendo played competitive football for only 8 years. A career so exquisite yet so short it was!
He is still working with Nile as a Senior Operator in the Packaging Department.