Tracy Jones Akiror (right)

Uganda Crested Cranes Tracy Jones “Xavinio” Akiror has confessed that former Uganda Cranes and Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) player Tom Lwanga inspired her to take on the beautiful game.

Akiror is currently based in Columbia, Kentucky in the United States of America (USA) where she recently transferred to Lindsey Wilson College (Blue Raiders) from Seminole State College.

In an interview with Kawowo Sports, the diligent holding midfielder reveals that Lwanga inspired and encouraged her to play the game from childhood.

She talks about her life journey as a female footballer, picking out the high, low moments in the industry as well as the current lockdown in the USA and the projections for the future.

Tracy Jones Akiror (right) against South Africa

Kawowo Sports: Who is Akiror and all about you?

Akiror:  I am Tracy Jones Akiror. Many people also call by the nickname “Xavinio” which means “ball passer”. My father is James Olongaria and Robinah Night Nasal. I was born in Mulago Hospital, Kampala on 25th August 1998. I studied at Luzira Church of Uganda Primary School, then went to St. Marys Nsumba S.S.S, St. Juliana Gayaza and finally Kampala University before I left for the US.

Kawowo Sports: Tell us about your football journey

Akiror: I started playing football when I was a toddler very young at home with my brothers and some other boys. But sometimes I think it all started from my mother’s womb.

Kawowo Sports: Who is that person who point out who mentored you?

Akiror: It is none than my uncle Tom Lwanga, a former Uganda Cranes and KCCA Football Club player. He inspired me a lot into going so deep in the game because he always supported me right from childhood and he has never questioned my decision as to why I took the path but always mentored me into becoming a better player.

Tom Lwanga

Kawowo Sports: What have you achieved as a female footballer?

Akiror: A lot. So many great things have happened to me as a female footballer. One of them is winning the FUFA Women Elite League for four consecutive times with Kawempe Muslim Women Football Club.

Secondly, being voted Most Valuable Player (MVP) for on the fourth league triumph.

Then leading the Uganda national women team- Crested Cranes as a Captain in CECAFA of 2018 held in Rwanda and coming back with silver something that happened for the first time on the senior team for all the years the team had engaged in the competition,  guiding my team (Crested cranes ) for a third place out of 12 teams in COSAFA after having played one of the ranked women national teams in Africa.

Kawowo Sports: Do you get diverted by negative energy?

Akiror: I have heard a lot of crazy stuff but always gave a deaf ear. This is because not everyone who speaks understands the game or even what they are speaking and one thing about me. Personally,  when am focused on something i always try so hard not to be diverted especially when it comes to what people think. Because many of them (people will always be in the negative path).

Tracey Jones Akiror in a Crested Cranes training session at FUFA Technical Center, Njeru

Kawowo Sports: When you left for the USA, how did you find the early days?

Akiror: It was quite challenging, since I really didn’t know anybody apart from the coach. I guess and it is obvious that whenever one leaves his/her mother to greener pastures, sometimes things are totally different from how one has been grasping them and in most cases it either negative or positive.  The weather and food were actually one of my biggest challenges but as time went on i started coping up and was willing to learn a lot of new stuff which made it easier for me to overcome those challenges.

Kawowo Sports: What do you miss?

Akiror: I really miss my family and friends back home.

Kawowo Sports: What is your best dish?

Akiror: I like meat and Atapa (It is crazy). Sometimes I prefer matooke (plantain) and groundnuts (laughs).

Kawowo Sports: Point out the key personal highlights and achievements.

Akiror: I have traveled widely to different places and countries because of playing football. Secondly, being entrusted with the task as the captain of Uganda National Senior Women Team Captain (Crested Cranes) makes me elated.  I was MVP for the 2018 FUFA Women Elite league, a nominee for the 2018 FUFA Awards and 2019 top-scorer for Seminole state College and MVP.

Tracy Jones Akiror at Seminole

Kawowo Sports: Point out the best matches you have played in your career

Akiror:  There are a couple of best matches I have played. The first one was when Kawempe Muslim played against Olira. In this game, I scored the lone goal that crowned us champions for the fourth time in a row in the FUFA Women Elite League. Then when Crested Cranes faced Swaziland in COSAFA, winning a penalty for country after being fouled in the goal area which helped us to top our group. The other match was for Crested Cranes against Zimbabwe, scoring an equalizer with a header which helped us to qualify to the semi-final slot in COSAFA (2018). The Crested Cranes against Zambia when I scored the only goal (penalty) that booked for us a third place in the COSAFA tournament.

Kawowo Sports: How special is wearing the national team captain’s arm band?

Akiror: First and foremost, for anyone to be a captain means being responsible. Being a national Team captain means accepting an extra level of responsibility for your sports team. Whatever needs doing, a team captain should take care of it atleast the best way they can. It is not my job to be a coach, but even a great coach needs a little help from time to time.

L-R: Ruth Aturo, Tracy Jones Akiror and Shadia Nankya were the top three nominees for the female MVP gong in 2018

Kawowo Sports: Footballers have specific customs, beliefs and norms before, during and after training and matches. What exactly do you do?

Akiror: Personally, I do not believe in superstitions.

Kawowo Sports: Compare football in  the USA and your mother country

Akiror:  Football is USA is much organized right from academies to epic levels. The kids grow up knowing the basics of the game and how to act professional on and off the pitch. Besides, it is not only about the coaches but the parents are also much involved in the development of the children’s career.

Kawowo Sports: Who is the toughest opponent you have faced?

Akiror:  Sincerely, I don’t really think I have found that one yet who has ever given me hard time.

Kawowo Sports: Which goal do you single out as your best?

Akiror: That long range shot against Olira at the StarTimes Stadium, Lugogo in the 2018 FUFA Women Elite League finals.

Tracy Jones Akiror (right( against Zambia in the 2018 COSAFA Women championship

Kawowo Sports: Do you have any specific celebrations after scoring goal?

Akiror: Actually I have two types of celebrations that I would term as my all-time favorites. The first one, I point to my heart with my right hand meaning I love the game am playing and am always ready to do whatever it takes because of the passion I have towards it.

The second one; I  lift my right hand looking upon the sky as a sign of thanking my God because whenever i step on that pitch and I perform to my expectation, people’s expectation or even beyond, i just know it wasn’t all by me but it is His mercy that I did even better.

Kawowo Sports: The USA, too, has experienced a lockdown because of the Coronavirus. How has this period shaped you?

Akiror: This lockdown has helped me to train more harder as a person. I have also improves a lot on my weakness because I have much time which helps me to concentrate even more.

Kawowo Sports: Mirror yourself in 5 year’s time.

Akiror: In 5 year’s time ,I see myself on a gigantic level playing for the most decorated women clubs in the world.

Kawowo Sports: Any final remarks

Akiror: As we are all facing this tragic moment, I just wanna say to everyone out there; let us not give up now because we shall definitely win this disease. Keep saying home as you also consider other preventive measures given by the health organizations.

To the football fraternity, please let us keep training from home, I know how much the game is missed but life is so precious and lets always priotize it first.

We are in all this together.

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

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