Nicholas Kabonge (left) congratulated by teammates after scoring in the 2017 Airtel Masaza cup final Credit: Airtel Uganda
[/media-credit] Nicholas Kabonge (left) congratulated by teammates after scoring in the 2017 Airtel Masaza cup final Credit: Airtel Uganda

Midfielder Nicholas ‘Zico’ Kabonge rose to instant prominence when he scored Gomba’s only goal in the final of the 2017 Airtel Masaza Cup against Ssingo at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole.

This was Gomba’s 4th Masaza Cup triumph since the tournament inception in 2004.

Before netting the winning goal, Kabonge had a year ago missed the trophy by a whisker when Gomba lost to Buddu through a tense penalty shoot-out and Kabonge quickly recounts;

It was a painful moment losing out in the final. Good enough, I returned to the final a year later and I had a lot to prove.

Scoring the winning goal for my team before a full packed stadium will remain my biggest moment in life.

The fifth in the family of nine was born to Nicholas Nsubuga and Josephine Nakyeyune at Nsambya Hospital on 29th June 1998.

Nicholas Kabonge with the winners medal of the 2017 Airtel Masaza cup Credit: © Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

He grew up in the rich footballing hub of Makindye.

Little wonder the choice for his role model (Hassan Mubiru) does not shock an ardent follower of domestic football. Mubiru a former Uganda Cranes striker was born and bred in Makindye, a suburb of Kampala.

“Hassan Mubiru was a great player and I liked the way he played. He encouraged us when we were still young. I look up to him to achieve what he achieved as I work harder for new challenges in life,” the second year student at Kampala University adds.

Like his role model, Kabonge kicked off his career at the famous Lukuli United.

He has since played at Hampton Warriors (Nsambya) & Lungujja Galaxy, his current team.

[/media-credit] Nicholas Kabonge mobbed by teammates Credit: Airtel Uganda

Taking a step forward

Kabonge, just like many budding footballers in the country aspires for the best ahead of him.

I want to invest more hours in training and polishing what I miss as a player. I want to be the best.

One day, I want to turn professional and also play for the national team, Uganda Cranes

Zico Nickname

A personal friend, Derrick Mutumba nick named him after the legendary Brazilian footballer Zico for the amazing dribbles, ball and foot work execution he has.

Kabonge is a champion with a collection of accolades and honours to show for his rich talent.

He has won the University Football League with Kampala University in 2016. In the same tournament, he was named MVP.

Kampala University is also the reigning East Africa University Football League Champion.

[/media-credit] Nicholas Kabonge (left) with a personal friend, Reagan Murekeezi Credit: © Kawowo Sports | DAVID ISABIRYE

He also won the Buganda Cup with St Mary’s Kitende (in 2013), the Kampala Champions’ League winner (with Lubiri S.S), and a number of UFL Man of the Match honours with Kampala University (vs. Mbarara University) and (vs Nkumba University) in the final.

To him, the individual and team accolades aside, he remains focused to achieving big moments and climbing greater heights.

Fact File

  • Full Names: Nicholas Kabonge
  • Nick name: Zico
  • Parents: Nicholas Nsubuga and Josephine Nakyeyune
  • Date of birth: 29th June 1998
  • Place of Birth: Nsambya Hospital
  • Education: Good Day Nursery & Primary School, Lusaka – Makindye (Nursery & Primary), Nswanjere Junior Seminary (P4-P7), Nandere Junior Seminary (S1), St Mary’s Kitende (S.2-S.3), East High School, Ntinda (S4), Lubiri S.S (A-level), Kampala University (Second year student of Social Works & Social Administration)
  • Football Journey: Lukuli United, Hampton Warriors (Nsambya) & Lungujja Galaxy
  • Strong Foot: Right
  • Role Model: Hassan Mubiru (Former Uganda Cranes international)
  • Best Friends: David Owori & Moses Waiswa
  • Best Dish: Chicken, Matooke (Plantain) & Rice with Passion fruit Juice
  • Honours: 2016 University Football League Champion, MVP 2016 University Football League, 2016 East Africa University Football League Champion, 2017 Airtel Masaza Cup Champion, 2013 Buganda Cup champion (St Mary’s Kitende), 2013 Kampala Champions’ League winner (Lubiri), 1st Runners Up Buganda Masaza Cup (2016 with Gomba), UFL Man of the match Kampala University vs Mbarara University of Science & Technology (MUST), Nkumba University (Final)
  • Best goals: Winner for Gomba against Ssingo in the 2017 Airtel Masaza Cup & Equalizing goal for Kampala University against Nkumba in the 2016 University Football League (UFL)
  • Worst moment: Gomba losing in the final against Buddu in 2016 Buganda Masaza Cup
  • Coaches handled: Richard Wasswa (St Mary’s Kitende), Ronald Yiga (Hampton), Vincent ‘Titi’ Camara (Kampala University), Kiryowa (Kira United), Simon ‘Dungu’ Ddungu (Gomba), Andrew Ssali (Lungujja Galaxy), George William Lutalo Bbosa

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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