Ian Kajubu Rukunya has played Squash since he was 7 years old (Credit: David Isabirye)

Uganda Squash national team player Ian Kajubu “Ianos” Rukunya, 34, has played this indoor game virtually for the best part of his entire life.

Rukunya commenced this game at the tender age of 7 years, since his primary one at Bukoto based Froebel primary school, as he confesses the inspiration from his father, Simon Kajubu Rukunya.

Rukunya, the senior is a former seed one for team Uganda.

“My father inspired me to play the game since I was 7 years old. Until to-date, I have not looked back” he boldly recounts.

Ian Kajubu Rukunya

Ian Rukunya played Squash throughout his teens and won that was available on the podium back then as a junior.

He featured in schools and open tournaments; performing well including at international events in the neighboring Kenya, South Africa and elsewhere.

India’s Saurav Ghosal returns the ball to Uganda’s Ian Rukunya (L) during the men’s singles squash match in the XIX Commonwealth Games at the Siri Fort Sports Complex in New Delhi on October 4, 2010. Ghosal won 3-0. AFP PHOTO/RAVEENDRAN (Photo credit: RAVEENDRAN/AFP via Getty Images)

The epitome of his career was playing at the Commonwealth Games, thrice with a fourth time pending come the 2022 Birmingham Games (28th July to 8th August).

He featured at the 2010 games in Delhi city (India), 2014 Glasgow (Scotland) and 2018 Gold Coast (Australia).

Ian Rukunya with a racket

Background:

Hailing from a sporting family, Ian Rukunya is the first born child in the family of seven children to Simon Kajubu Rukunya and Milly Nyakahyma.

He was born on the 12th June 1988 in Rubaga Hospital, Kampala city.

Ian Rukunya suring church worship service alongside the other members
Ian Rukunya performs in church

Education:

A three time (2016, 2018, 2019) Squash best player of the year by the Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA), Rukunya studied at Froebel Primary School – Bukoto (for his entire elementary studies).

He was then admitted to Old Kampala Secondary School for his Ordinary and Advanced levels of education before graduating from Makerere University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology (I.T).

Ian Kajubu Rukunya during church service
Happy Times: Ian Rukunya during worship

Besides the demanding Squash training schedule, Rukunya is also committed to his I.T job at Alam Group of Companies and church (Christ Way Church in Najeera).

At his work station, he is the head of I.T and a worship leader at church.

He is currently working on his debut album that will constitute of hit gospel songs as “I’m Yours”, “Teri Akwenkana”, “Show me” and “The Price” among others.

Collectively, they are working on songs like; “Have your way”, “Limitless” and “Because He is with us”.

“I love to serve the Lord at all times. As a worship leader at Christ Way Church (Najeera), this is one means of passionately providing the service” he speaks with eloquence.

Marriage:

Rukunya is happily married to Patience. Their wedding day was on Independence Day (9th October 2021).

Ian and Patience Rukunya enjoy the dance on their wedding day
Ian places the love -marriage ring to Patience
Ian Rukunya is finalizing on his debut gospel album with gospel songs as “Have your way”, “Limitless” and “Because He is with us”.
Ian Kajubu Rukunya during praise and worship at church

Squash career:

At a tender age of 7 years, Rukunya commenced his otherwise glittering Squash career.

He won most Juniors championships at the time including the Aon and Uganda junior open meets.

He competed and won at domestic competitions as well as those beyond the borderlines of Uganda.

At home, he excelled in the Castle Lite championships, Prime General Open, Kabaka Cup, Kabira Invitational among others.

Ian Rukunya after winning the Nakuru Squash open in 2018. He also earned 3000 Kenya shillings

Rukunya ventured in the murky waters of Kenya and Tanzania, winning the Parkland Open, Nakuru, Mombasa (all in Kenya) as well as the Uhuru Open (Tanzania).

In South Africa, he played at the famed Prince Grand Prix championship in Johannesburg city.

The 2022 Commonwealth games in Birmingham city (United Kingdom) to be held between 28th July to 8th August will be Ian Rukunya’s fourth since 2010.

In 2010, he was part of team Uganda at the games hosted by India in Delhi city.

He was then part of the 2014 team in Glasgow city (Scotland) and 2018 in Australia (Gold Coast city).

Ian Rukunya at the Gold Coast Commonwealth Games in Australia (2018)

Best and challenging duels faced:

Ian Rukunya acknowledges that the 3-2 victory registered during the Kabaka tournament finale at Kampala Club over Michael Kawooya remains one of his brave performances in the career.

“I was trailing 2-0 at some stage with one set to play. Perhaps, no hope was lost. I gallantly fought back to level 2-2 before winning 3-2. This was a sweet victory” he recalls with a broad smile.

His most difficult match came at the Parkland open in Kenya against Kenya’s number one, Muqtadir Nimji.

He admires former England number one Nick Matthew, someone whom he always looked forward to emulate, besides his father.

Incidentally, Rukunya lost to Matthew 3-0 (11-2, 11-6, 11-2) during the 2018 Commonwealth Games in in Australia (Gold Coast city).

Domestically, he rates national teammate Paul Kasirye Kadoma as his most tricky opponent ever faced.

Ian Kajubu Rukunya has won three USPA accloades

Squash as a bed of roses:

Ian Rukunya has no regrets whatsoever having played Squash in life.

He boldly speaks of the benefits attained from playing the game ranging from networking, traveling, winning cash, accolades and other goodies.

“Squash has been too good to me. I have got exposure to the entire world because of Squash. Squash teaches punctuality, self-disciple, hardworking and respect for all regardless of the age or social class. I have also won trophies, goodies and earned cash from the game” Rukunya adds.

L-R: Michael Raymond Kawooya, Paul Kasirye Kadoma and Ian Kajubu Rukunya during the flag off at Kampala Club (Credit: David Isabirye)

For the next month or so, Rukunya will be away from the church service ministries and I.T job as he embarks on the job of returning to the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom.

Team Uganda (Ian Kajubu Rukunya, Michael Raymond Kawooya and Paul Kasirye Kadoma) will be camped at Rock Classic Hotel in Tororo.

Detailed profile:

  • Full Names: Ian Kajubu Rukunya
  • Nick-Name: Ianos
  • Parents: Simon Kajubu Rukunya and Milly Nyakahyma
  • Date of Birth: 12th June 1988
  • Education: Froebel Primary School – Bukoto (Elementary Primary), Old Kampala Secondary School (O & A Level), Makerere University [Graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology (I.T)]
  • Squash Debut: Aged 7 years old
  • Inspiration: Simon Kajubu Rukunya (Biological father) & Nick Matthew (Former England seed one)
  • Best match played: The 3-2 victory over Michael Raymond Kawooya (2018 Kabaka tournament final)
  • Most Difficult match: Against Muqtadir Nimji (Kenya number one) in 2018 Parkland Open
  • Achievements: Won Aon and Uganda junior open championships, Winner Castle Lite championships, Prime General Open, Kabaka Cup, Kabira Invitational, Parkland Open, Nakuru Open, Mombasa (All in Kenya) and Uhuru Open (Tanzania).
  • Also performed well at Prince Grand Prix championship in Johannesburg city, Commonwealth Games 2010 (Delhi city, India), 2014 Glasgow (Scotland) and 2018 Gold Coast (Australia).

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

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