Aisha Nabikko Ssemambo Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

Aisha Nabikko Ssemambo! What a career that this retired Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) Referee had!

For a longer duration of twenty-one years, yes, read in bold 21, Ssemambo served the beautiful game with all the due diligence, commitment, passion, determination, energy and unrivalled enthusiasm.

A former bicycle rider, netballer and footballer in her hey active youth days, Ssemambo has no regrets whatsoever having ascended the ladder from a humble beginning.

The epitome of her career was donning the treasured FIFA Badge, first in 2006.

Aisha Nabikko Ssemambo at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole during a Uganda Premier League match Credit: © Kawowo Sports | JOHN BATANUDDE

Following 12 years of great service as a FIFA Referee, she eventually bowed down with her last game in the Uganda Premier League on 28th December 2018 when Paidha Angels hosted Maroons at the Green Light Stadium, Arua.

Eventually, Ssemambo winded down the illustrious career on Wednesday, 30th October 2019 when she handled Lugazi Municipal’s 6-0 majestic victory over Butema Soccer Masters in the Ssezibwa Group of the Buganda Regional League at Mehta Stadium, Lugazi.

After the game, a final lap of honour, normally conducted in the company of fellow referees and assistants was executed.

The famous lap of honour for Aisha Nabikko Ssemambo (both hands up) Credit: Lugazi Municipal FC

Early Life

As a bouncing toddler from Hajji Ssalongo Sulait Ssemambo (RIP) and Nalongo Hadijah Nagadya, Ssemambo came to life in 1975 in Bamusuuta village, Ndesse, Nakifuma county in Mukono district.

In her youthful days, Ssemambo’s sporting genes were manifested through the various activities she was engaged in as cycling, athletics, volleyball, netball and her true calling – football.

 In fact, one of Ssemambo’s former teammates at Lugazi United, Irene Namubiru also served as a FIFA Referee.

Ssemambo went to Lugazi SS (now Mehta SS) where she got involved in a number of sporting activities.

Aisha Nabikko Ssemambo (third from right) before a FUFA Women Elite League match Credit: © Kawowo Sports | AISHA NAKATO

Referee Career

In May 1998, the late Asaph Katende discovered her potential and advised her to join football refereeing, an idea she embraced with love and passion and immediately went for the course which by then was organized by Fredrick Balenzi, a teacher at Bishop Senior School.

Her passion for refereeing was top-notch to the extent she could handle training sessions the entire day.

After five years of understudy, in 2001 she officiated her first league match between Kasana Nakibano and Mayangayanga FC in Mukono District Football Association.

Ssemambo became FIFA referee in 2006.

In her career, Ssemambo never failed a physical fitness test, was a no-nonsense and could not allow any kind of bribery.

Aisha Nabikko Ssemambo with Lugazi Municipal chairman Abdul Kawuulu

Mentor

Ssemambo’s experience has helped her raise the current FIFA Referees as Jane Mutonyi, Habiba Naigaga (she envisages Naigaga as the best upcoming referee), Nasser Muhammad Kirya, Brianson Musisi, Davies Wanyama, Amina Ndagire and two of her daughters.

Role Model:

Retired FIFA Referee Charles Masembe was her best referee and role model. Ssemambo also showers special praise to Mzei Edrisa Kiwanuka for his consistent counsel and constant teachings that helped her become a better referee.

In a special way, she sings praise to Samuel Kayondo (Retired FIFA Referee), Diana Mukasa (Retired FIFA Referee) and Rahman Kizito.

She is happily married to CAF C coach holder Luzinda Muwadda with whom they have 2 boys and two girls. Muwadda is the owner of Kitega FC and currently the head coach.

Ssemambo shows a yellow card to Michael Birungi during a Uganda Premier League match

WHEN I WAS HANDLING MY FIRST INTERNATIONAL GAME, I was a bit nervous but since I had been handling games for men, it was not a hard task for me thank God for my hard work, determination, commitment and help from family and friends, I went through it unfazed.

Aisha Nabikko Ssemambo, Retired FIFA Referee

Upcoming and young referees should not be rushed into thick action, they should be given time to learn from their seniors and above all avoid bribes that may tarnish their career.

Aisha Nabikko Ssemambo, Retired FIFA Referee

Female referees are so unfortunate of recent. The time of pregnancy is never catered for and the moment you go in for labour, that may be the end of your career.

Aisha Nabikko Ssemambo, Retired FIFA Referee

I believe we have proved that ladies can also make good referees. as I retire, my humble request to the authorities in the game is to continue motivating and guiding more women to join the beautiful game

Aisha Nabikko Ssemambo, Retired FIFA Referee
Football lovers across the divide bid farewell to the retired FIFA Referee Aisha Nabikko Ssemambo (second right)

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

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