The nature of the second-tier Big League easily accommodates part-time players. The first round, for instance, was played in just 27 days.
As Malaba-based Myda and UPDF earned places in next season’s StarTimes Uganda Premier League after the football association, Fufa, decided to end the season because of the Covid-19 pandemic, a career crisis hit for forward Derrick Dangchur of Myda.
“This is the moment I have been waiting for all my life. Most people have been telling me I am not meant for these lower leagues. Thank God it has come true, I am training harder with coach Musa Nandala to be ready. I am going to do my best,” said Dangchur in an interview.
In the concluded season, he scored three goals and made five assists, a low return compared to the 10 in 2019 and 27 in 2017 in the Regional League.
Abdul-Samadu Musafiri, Myda head coach, offers a strong case for the stocky forward. “Of course, he is growing. Graduating from the lower league is not easy but I feel he can be an important player,” Musafiri says.
The 24-year-old still has to fight for a place with the likes of Norman Ogik, Kosia Waiswa, Ibra Nsimbe, and Yunus Kasozi as well as the recruits that will be added. “I am confident of keeping my place on the team. But that gives me a challenge to work even harder.”
Dangchur rose through the ranks from Mbale Sky Sports Academy in 2007, where he played all positions – as a goalkeeper, defender, midfielder before settling as a striker. Pace and hard shots are his trademarks.
“When I was still young, I would play all positions but I found out that I liked scoring goals.”
He later played for Mbale City in the district league before quitting for CRO where he emerged top scorer with a massive 27 goals in 2017. This helped facilitate his move to Myda in 2018.
Since CRO was relegated in 2014, Mbale has been deprived of top flight football. Talented players have either given up or joined teams elsewhere. Kiboga United which was taken up by Mbale Heroes are in the Fufa Big League play-offs offering hope to Mbale-born players. Bukedea’s Kataka is also in.
Dangchur had agreed to join Millers before choosing Myda, something that left CRO bitter. “But I actually apologised to CRO. They are a family to me. My best days were with them but I wanted to try my luck elsewhere,” he says.
His switch to Myda culminated in the 2018 Eastern Regional League triumph where they won promotion to the Big League at the expense of Tororo’s Admin FC. Last season, they secured another promotion.
A touch of Rugby
His career, though, could have taken another route. He was a promising rugby player who has been forced to opt for football due to anticipated clashes in training.
Uganda Rugby Cranes fly half Ivan Magomu, a childhood friend, who has enjoyed a long career after quitting football as a midfielder at Mbale Heroes, introduced Dangchur to rugby.
Through Mbale Elephants, an Eastern Region Rugby League outfit, Dangchur would become a feared number 14 while excelling as a fullback since 2015.
“Rugby has done me a lot of good. It has always improved on my agility, flexibility, speed and strength. I really like rugby but I don’t think I can balance the two. I think I will go for football, the sport I love most,” he said.
Dangchur has not forgotten his roots in Mbale and he recently took part in a live WhatsApp chat with players from Bugisu region on how they can make it, sharing his journey to the top division.
He said: “I am encouraging young players to be persistent and remain focused because the journey is not always straight. They should also be as coachable as possible because then you can continually get better. By working hard at their game, they can get themselves to another level.”
Derrick Dangchur at a glance
- Date of birth: May 18, 1996
- Place of birth: Mbale
- Parents: Irene Aponye & Andrew Omujal
- Current team: Myda
- Position: Forward
Education: Elgon Nursery & Primary School, Fairway P/S, Nabuyonga PS, Nabumali PS, Bumboli PS, Hilton HS-Mukono, Mary Christian College, Wanale View, Mbale Progressive and YMCA Wandegeya.
- 2013-2016: Mbale City
- 2017: CRO (Top scorer with 27 goals)
- 2018-to-date: Myda