With tears rolling down my eyes (no pun intended), I am penning down my last daily tale still seated at the private villa found in Heliopolis – Al Deer Bhari El Bostan in Cairo, Egypt.

To this end, it is difficult to know why the tears at this material time.

Possibly, they are tears of joy, of annihilation and excitement of ending a project as I look towards returning to my lovely Lake Victoria Peninsular in Entebbe.

Deep in my heart, I am reflecting on the memories at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the achievements I have registered as a person, the grey areas and how best to polish and become a better person.

For starters, the month long championship successfully climaxed on Friday night at the gigantic Cairo International Stadium with Algeria winning their second championship, after 29 years.

Algeria beat Senegal 1-0 courtesy of a first minute strike by Baghdad Bounedjah, whose shot was deflected off defender Salif Sani and over the goalkeeper Alfred Junior Amigo Gomis into the net for a great start.

Aisha Nakato | Kawowo Sports Algeria players and official with the 2019 AFCON trophy at Cairo International Stadium

It was an epic finale, well contested that reflected the spirit of competitiveness that has been exhibited throughout the tournament whose number of entries swell to 24 countries.

Algerian president Abdelkader Bensalah, flanked by the Egypt Prime minister Mostafa Madbouly graced the final game of the 32nd edition.

Under-fire CAF President Ahmad Ahmad and the FIFA boss Gianni Infantino, as well as the chairman of the AFCON local organizing committee Hani Abou Rida also attended.

John Batanudde | Kawowo Sports Egypt’s Donia Samir Ghanem

Incidentally, both the opening and closing ceremonies were first class with breathe-taking scenes, showcasing the unique pyramids, one of the wonders of the world.

Music icons as Ghana’s Afropop star Fuse Odg and Egypt’s Donia Samir Ghanem mesmerized many guests.

John Batanudde | Kawowo Sports Ghanaian Afropop star Fuse Odg with the backup team had an awesome performance

As I pack my luggage for home, I keep reflecting on key positives at this championship.

The Egyptians are awesome. From the lay men to the A-Class, all has been smooth.

The level of organization, despite the short notice preparations was top notch.

From the hospitality, transport system, security, accommodation to the stadium facilities, Egypt was amazing, to say the least, better than the tourney hosted by Gabon two years ago.

John Batanudde | Kawowo Sports Uganda’s flag at the Cairo International Stadium
John Batanudde | Kawowo Sports The irrigation process of the playing surface at the 30th June Stadium

Egypt as a country has benefited a lot in marketing its diverse tourism potential.

From the 3000 expected tourists per year, the year 2019 will be more.

Many international guests flocked the country in thousands and visited the wonder sites of this great nation, albeit dry place.

From the great Pyramids of Giza, museums, River Nile, Red Sea and a host of other historical sites, the tourism department of Egypt reaped big indeed.

Now, it is the time to break my daily routine that had schedules of covering training sessions, the hustles of booking uber services, matches proper, pre and post match press conference as well as the famous vox pox.

John Batanudde | Kawowo Sports Uganda Cranes fans cheered with passion
Kawowo Sports Team | Kawowo Sports Uganda Cranes players carry the national flag after the final whistle

Patriotically, It hurts for your country to be eliminated in such a championship but professionally, you bury the disappointment fast forward and surge ahead.

Impartiality remains one of the core values of journalism that I grasped from the journalism school that I preach thus far.

Little wonder therefore, when Uganda Cranes was eliminated by Senegal 1-0 at the round of 16, It remained a hurting experience but I soldiered on with pride in respect of my profession.

The experience of covering my first ever CAF Ordinary General Assembly is one that will remain forever written in my CV as  a sports journalist.

I was honoured to witness first hand, the order of business at the CAF General Assembly and how delegates deliberate on the issues at hand.

John Batanudde | Kawowo Sports Magogo hugs Tenga in a typical sportsmanship spirit
John Batanudde | Kawowo Sports L-R: Edgar Watson, Darius Mugoye, Moses Magogo, Justus Mugisha and Jean Sseninde after Magogo’s election

The election of Uganda’s FA boss Moses Magogo to the CAF Executive Committee was another high for the country and the CECAFA Region as whole.

It is great for a comrade to achieve big. I was very delighted to witness Ugandan’s on official CAF duties.

Moses Magogo has been involved in the day to day affairs by virtue of being a CAF Executive member, Edgar Watson, the FUFA Chief Executive Officer (CEO) served on the CAF Study Group team for the AFCON tournament.

Security guru Dixon Adol “Bond” Okello manned the security affairs at Cairo International Stadium, Andrew Jackson Oryada (media officer) and Leila Nankya was on the CAF Protocol team.

John Batanudde | Kawowo Sports Okello (suit) on duty during the semi-final clash at AFCON 2019 between Nigeria and Algeria
David Isabirye | Kawowo Sports Veteran media officer Mammadou Gaye with Uganda’s Andrew Jackson Oryada

I was impressed to attend the Boat Cruise on the Nile organized by Ibis group and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), visit to the Pyramids of Giza, Grand Museum, AIPS ceremony of rewarding veteran journalists who have diligently covered more than 10 AFCON tournaments and an Ice session at City Stars Mall.

Some of the hitches experienced in Egypt were embedded in the language hurdles.

David Isabirye | Kawowo Sports MS Nile Smart vessel where I enjoyed the ship cruise on River Nile
Mustapha An exciting camel ride besides the Great Pyramid of Giza
David Isabirye | Kawowo Sports Sports Journalists show off their certificates

62-year-old Babacar dit Khalifa from Senegal who has covered 15 AFCON tournaments, same as South Africa’s Mark Gleeson were recognized.

Others included; 72-year-old Samir Abdoulazim, one of Egypt’s top sports journalists, Mokhtar Hmima (Tunisia), Fodil Ahfaidh (Algeria), Mohammed Mufti (Sudan), Sohounde Félix Pépéripé (Bénin), Baba Cissouma and Mamadou Koume.

Like in Gabon, I realized I should enroll for French classes as soon as today.

Egypt had a second barrier in Arabic. So, at AFCON 2019, French and Arabic reigned day and night.

You could easily miss out on a key hint as you awaited translators that sometimes distorted the message or never were.

By and large, Egypt 2019 further opened my opportunities in life as a journalist with a bias in football.

I networked with close to 1000 journalists not only from Africa but the other continents as well, picking important contacts that remain my sources of references in the daily execution of this challenging job.

To the Ugandan family who traveled all the way to Egypt including fellow journalists, I appreciate you 101 times.

Kudos to the dearest family members, close friends and that special one in my life for the encouragement and the positive critiquing that has always transformed me into a better being.

Egypt, Till I meet you Again.

Au revoir!!!!

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here