Summary:

Within just three years, Heathens Rugby Club have jumped from UGX 20 million to UGX 330 million as a sponsorship package from Platinum Credit Uganda.

Heathens Rugby Football Club is one of the few self-sustainable entities in Ugandan sport. A playing and training surface and gym are at their disposal at Kyadondo Rugby Club which also houses a bar and barbecue with loyal patrons.

While that may be impressive and desirable, the reality on the ground is that the club barely breaks even, if they do. And that’s why Heathens, after playing the 2019-20 season without a sponsor, needed a helping hand.

Victor Wagobo Credit: John Batanudde

Enter front-row forward Victor Wagobo whose exploits at work during the week opened the door for the club at Platinum Credit Uganda, a financial services provider.

“One of our staff members was, and still is, a player and he interested us in this sport. But after that, it has been the competence of the management of this winning team,” said Platinum Credit MD, Albert Abaasa.

Abaasa was speaking at a press conference on Thursday morning where Heathens unveiled a three-year UGX 330 million sponsorship package ahead of the 2023 premier league campaign.

A UGX 330 million dummy cheque is presented by Heathens Rugby Club and Platinum Credit Uganda.

This is more than ninety per cent of what Heathens, to now officially be known as Platinum Credit Heathens Rugby Football Club, received three years ago when the partnership was first unveiled.

Platinum Credit tested the rugby waters with twenty million shillings in the first year before adding a further ten million shillings in the second.

Kyadondo Rugby Club chairperson Brian Tabaruka was well aware of his management team’s competence when he said it was just the beginning of Heathens’ next biggest partnership.

“We are certain this is just the beginning of a mutually beneficial partnership and look forward to growing this engagement into something bigger and better,” he said two years ago.

For each of the next three years, Heathens will have UGX 110 million that has been earmarked for player welfare including allowances and bonuses, and to cover their operational expenses.

But for an amateur sport where most players make less than USD 10 a week, direct cash injections are not the most valuable benefits of such a partnership. Scholarships, housing allowance, medical insurance, and jobs that come alongside the partnership are.

Wagobo is not the only player at Kyadondo Rugby Club to benefit from the partnership with Platinum Credit Uganda. Three other active players, including two from Toyota Buffaloes, are currently employed with Platinum Credit.

Improving the players’ welfare off the pitch is one sure way of improving their performance on it. And Heathens, with this fresh motivation, are more than set for the 2023 premier league campaign.

It starts with a visit to title rivals Black Pirates in Bweyogerere on Saturday afternoon.

Ernest Akorebirungi is Uganda's top rugby writer and commentator with experience in local tournaments like the national XVs competitions and sevens series. He has also reported at international tournaments...

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