Onduparaka. Currently, there is no team that has dominated media platforms than the side from West Nile.
At the moment, there is isn’t any sane local football fan that doesn’t know Onduparaka although many have failed to pronounce their name right.
Started 14 years ago, the side began as a village side competing in local competitions in Arua and not many thought it would be where they are now.
As you read this, they will be playing in the country’s top tier football division come next season after earning automatic qualification by topping the recently FUFA Big League with 53 points.
On Sunday last week, they were beaten 2-0 by Kirinya Jinja SS in the finals but that didn’t matter to the thousands of fans in the stands.
For so long, we have lacked a top division side that naturally attracts the support of people but Onduparaka has showed the way.
Every person that hails from Arua and or the West Nile region feels associated with the club as exhibited by the support.
On match days in Kampala, not many shops will be found open in Arua Park where they have already a branch for the fans in central region.
Clad in Green and white replica jerseys, the fans sing from the time their team arrives to the final whistle.
Club Chairman Benjamin Nyakoni explained to Kawowo Sports that fans have been a big pillar in their way to the premier league.
“The fans can’t be thanked enough,” he said. “They have been part of the side since its inception by supporting, buying match day tickets and club merchandise – jerseys to be specific,” he added.
Fairytale rise to the Premier League
Despite having no home until 2014, The Caterpillars as nicknamed earned promotion to the West Nile Regional League in 2014.
That campaign, they went unbeaten and were promoted to the FUFA Big League under the guidance of now CAF C license holder Allan Kabonge.
Kabonge then led them to the top division with an unbeaten home record prompting him to boost.
The Green Light stadium is a fortress. I doubt any side can leave unscathed and hopefully, we carry that to the top division as well.
Unfortunately, Kabonge may not be in charge as FUFA rules only give head coaching authority to CAF ‘B’ holders.
Nyakoni, a business man in the area however has plans for the man Onduparaka fans nicknamed ‘Messiah’.
We are aware of the regulation and we shall ensure he attains the papers. For the meantime, we are yet to identify anyone to replace him but we can’t just lose him.
In a good season so far, Onduparaka has eliminated Premiership sides SC Villa and Soana from the Uganda Cup where they are the semi-finals with Entebbe lurking.
Soana Coach Charles Ayiekoh was left in awe as his side suffered a 1-0 loss and warned that teams will be lucky to survive when they visit Green Light stadium.
We lost to the better side. On match day, everything in town is Green and White and with chants from stands, they attack you like wolves till you give in.
Ayiekoh was full of praise for the Onduparaka fans admitting it’s been long since he last witnessed what he saw on the day.
It reminded me of the days when Ugandan football was the talk on everyone’s lips. I wish them well in the Premier League.
Despite the good performances in the lower divisions, Nyakoni is wary of the top division and has set a realistic target for his charges.
We’ve seen teams promoted and relegated after one season. That’s not what we want; the target for the start is survival and then stay in the division forever.
Like many a team, sponsorship isn’t easy to come and Onduparaka have none at the moment. Not even Discovery.com they don on the jerseys is a sponsor but a design according to Nyakoni.
However, there are reports of Mukwano Group Industries joining given Nyakoni is the company’s chief distributor of Mukwano products in the region.
At the moment, we have no sponsors but they are welcome on board if any. The dealings with Mukwano are on an individual basis not the team. Our biggest sponsors are the fans who fill the stadium to capacity whenever will play at home.
There are plans to beef up the squad and the side isn’t willing to let go of its key players. However, they may lose skipper and club lead scorer Muhammad Shaban to parent club Vipers – he was on loan at Onduparaka.
But in Rashid Agau, Rashid Toha and Muhammad Gaddafi among others, they have quality ready to keep the team in the super division.