The official launch of the partnership between Soltilo Bright Stars Football Club and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) [Credit: Soltilo Bright Stars Football Club]

It is not an everyday moment to have events graced by the Ambassadors of countries.

For sporting events, there need to tag yourself a lucky party to have an ambassador in attendance, given their work load and demanding schedules.

Football in Uganda not only lucky, but indeed blessed for it has managed to lure the attention of ambassador of Japan, His Excellence Fukuzawa Hidemoto during the official launch of the partnership between Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and StarTimes Uganda Premier League entity Soltilo Bright Stars Football Club.

For the next 365 days, the two parties work liaise together as officially announced on 11th October 2021 at Kavumba Recreational Stadium, the home to Soltilo Bright Stars Football Club.

Japan’s Ambassador in Uganda Fukuzawa Hidemoto greets profilic striker Nelson Senkatuka at Kavumba Recreational Stadium (Credit: Soltilo Bright Stars FC)

His Excellence Fukuzawa Hidemoto, JICA representative Takayuki Uchiyama, newly signed midfielder Kazuto Kushida, Harold Atukwatse (Soltilo Bright Stars FC representative), towering midfielder Ivan Irinimbabazi, talismanic striker Nelson Senkatuka graced the launch.

L-R: Nelson Senkatuka, Kazuto Kushida, JICA representative Takayuki Uchiyama and Ivan Irinimbabazi during the launch (Credit: Soltilo Bright Stars FC)

Ambassador Hidemoto reiterated the commitment that Japan as a country has for Uganda.

Japan is committed to international cooperation and exchange through sports. My dream is to have Japan continue helping sports in the country in order to facilitate further improvements. I know we shall have more Japanese players come to Uganda and Ugandans moving the other way.

His Excellence Fukuzawa Hidemoto, the Ambassador of Japan

Atukwatse dubbed this partnership as a match mended in Heaven for it will help push for the club’s agenda of helping to improve livelihoods for the better.

I am very happy that JICA has come out on board to work with Soltilo Bright Stars Football Club. It will help us push our core values of helping improve livelihoods. Their purpose of improving the lives of Ugandans is not very far from what we believe in at Soltilo Bright Stars Football Club, so in a nutshell, this is a match made in Heaven. One of the reasons for this partnership is to help expose Ugandan players to better and bigger opportunities in the world and Japan perhaps. At the moment, it has no monetary exchange.

Harold Atukwatse, Official Soltilo Bright Stars Football Club
Harold Atukwatse, Board of Director at Soltilo Bright Stars Football Club during his speech
JICA representative Takayuki Uchiyama hands over a framed blue shirt for Soltilo Bright Stars to board member Harold Atukwatse

JICA representative Takayuki Uchiyama was humbled for the partnership forged with Solitilo Bright Stars Football Club as they take on sports among other projects undertaken.

One of the reasons why we feel this partnership is important is because Soltilo Bright Stars is committed towards helping people dream. Together with the other projects we are dealing with in Uganda, we are committed towards improving sports and Soltilo Bright Stars Football Club is part of these very many projects.

Takayuki Uchiyama , JICA Representative
JICA representative Takayuki Uchiyama (Credit: Soltilo Bright Stars Football Club)

Swelling bandwagon of sponsors and partners:

Though the financial nitty gritty remain scanty at large, JICA will brand every kit of the club with their logo on the players’ front chest part of the shirt.

They become the umpteenth sponsor for the club that arguably has the most number of partners in the entire league.

Yoshino Trading Limited is the also a sponsor for the club and brands the clavicle part of the shirt.

Other partners include; Wakana Zouen, a Japanese based landscape contractor, Showa Glove Company Limited, Ashinaga Scholarship Foundation, TresJapan, Next Connect and Africa as well as Ball Field.

Since 2017, Japanese football legend Keisuke Honda under Soltilo (U) Limited owns the majority shares (70%) in Solitilo Bright Stars Football Club.

Others are; Ronald Mutebi (19%), Ahmed Hussein (6%), Joseph Mubiru (3%) and Tadec Miiro (2%).

Soltilo Bright Stars Football Club is coached by Baker Mbowa who is assisted by Simon Peter Mugerwa (assistant), Ben Kalama (goalkeeping coach) and other personnel.

JICA Elucidated:

JICA is a development cooperation charter of Japan that works on human security and quality growth. It assists developing countries as a team executing agency of the Japanese ODA (Official Development Assistance).

Among its other ongoing projects are the Kampala Flyover Construction and Road Upgrading Project, the National Roads in Refugee Hosting Areas of WestNile Sub Region, Traffic Control in Kampala City.

Other mega projects also include; Construction of a new bridge across River Nile and the Kampala Metropolitan Transmission Improvement Project.

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

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