When Felix Musana was posted to Soroti to work as the Internal Auditor for Soroti Hospital little did he know he would start a culture in a place it was non existent.
Cricket was sport for people in Kampala and Jinja and because of the security situation up north, little or no progress had been made in introducing the game to communities there.
Musana loved cricket and working upcountry ignited a spark in him to do something about the absence of cricket in Soroti. He couldn’t afford travelling to Kampala every weekend so he needed to find something to do to occupy his evenings as well as weekends.
Three years on Soroti Cricket Academy has a ladies side (Olila High School) in the national ladies league and plans are under way for a boys team to play in Division 3 next year.
There are many highs despite the limitation in resources. Joyce Mary Apio the poster girl of the academy is a main stay in the national ladies team, Olila has won the ladies T20 league this year.
A son of the soil, Musana is ambitious but realist in his expectations for his project.
There is no point in starting something that wont last long enough to make an impact and thus we caught up with Felix Musana, the founder of Soroti Cricket Academy to share more about the project.
How was the Soroti Cricket Academy idea conceived?
In 2014, I came across a group of 3 girls preparing for Schools Cricket Week. They were training with one bat, one hard ball and no batting pads, keeping gloves. They had a lot of passion and lacked equipment and I told my self that I should get the above the next time in Kampala. Numbers increased, thereafter met Peter Ojangole a Mwiri Old Boy on the ground helping out and that’s when we came up with the idea of Soroti Cricket Academy (SCA) to help develop the game in Soroti.
How long has the academy been running?
The Academy started in February 2014 but we became legally incorporated in November 2014. We are now in our 3rd year.
How big is the venture and who is your target group?
The Academy is now big and we are in 10 primary schools and 6 secondary schools where we coach cricket. We are targeting all municipal primary schools which are 20 in number and Secondary schools with a playground in Soroti which are 10.
Once we have this covered we plan to expand to as far as Mbale and Lira if finances can allow.
What is the end goal of the Soroti Academy?
Bring Teso region on the cricket map just like Kampala and Jinja
What are some of the achievements thus far?
- We have a club under our management Olila High Cc
- Our player Joyce Mary Apio playing on the National women’s team.
- Two of our players are on the U-19 side Esther Illoku and Mildred Anyigo and winning best player awards in their categories.
- Nabwana Jane for being the best bats lady in the women’s league.
- Having as many as 4 of our players turning up for various clubs in the women’s league.
They are many but in brief those stand out
Cricket is a self sacrificing sport and needs a lot of resources, are you doing this alone?
No we have a board of 5 members (Musana Felix-Chairman. Directors Komaketch Ivan Hillary Baguma-PRO Andrew Otim Okurut Ngabirye Esther-Secretary) that contribute to our budget and we have some well wishers that chip in here and there like Oluka Richard.
What is the future for Soroti Cricket Academy?
The future is bright for the Academy.
We are advanced talks with the Town clerk Soroti Municipal to get a cricket ground in Town and the MOU is likely to be signed before end of month.
Aziz Damani plans to set up an Astro turf at Teso College Aloet.
We want to register a boys team for next years Division 3 league 2 help expose the boys
Spreading the game to Mbale and Lira so that we have our own matches without coming and incurring costs of coming to Kampala
Olila won the ladies T20 league this year, how much did it mean to the Soroti Cricket Academy?
It confirmed to the cricket fraternity that we have the capacity and competence to bring up players, manage and compete with the best.
Secondly, Soroti now is coming to terms that cricket actually exists and the district can go far with our partnership in developing cricket
As a cricket development partner, what do u think UCA needs to do to spread cricket to the grass roots?
Train primary school teachers basic cricket skills to take on coaching in primary schools. Ensure the mini cricket competitions are run up to nationals something that hasn’t happened for 2 years.
Motivate the outstanding players or best 11 in each region with a camp or tournament to give the youngsters purpose and something to keep fighting for.
What needs to be done different for cricket to become at least the second sport for people in Uganda?
- UCA needs to take the game to the communities, cricket in Uganda is only known by people that come to the ovals or went to the cricket playing schools.
- Bring on board regional cricket so that cricket is for all Ugandans in Gulu, Lira , Arua, Kabale, Hoima, Mbale e.t.c the regions will develop the lower districts empower the regions.
- Introduce cricket in Primary Teachers colleges and National Teachers Colleges. Teachers that come from those setups with cricket knowledge can spread it all over.
But all in all is to consider taking the game to Ugandans through regions, communities and teachers in my view
On a light note Give us your ideal Uganda XI?
Got attached 2 my cricket in the 2000s so I can only select the players I watched then.
1. Roger Mukasa
2. Arthur Kyobe
3. Joel Olweny
4. Nehal bibodi
5. Hamza Saleh
6. Junior Kwebiha
7. Keith Legesi (Wkt Capt)
8. Kenneth Kamyuka
9. Irfan Afridi
10. Richard Okia
11. Frank Nsubuga
12. Emmanuel Issanez
You don’t work in Soroti anymore but you are still so much in Soroti, where do draw this passion for Soroti?
Was touched with the talent we have worked with here and am so attached to them we have a mother baby relationship until am sure they can stand up on their own.
Besides my mum comes from Amuria and it’s least I can do for my relatives in this part