Credit: John Batanudde

The year is 2015 and Ghadafi Integrated Academy has won promotion to the FUFA Women Elite League. The Kawempe based school will feature in the second edition (2015/16 season) of the newly created Women League. With their eternal rivals Kawempe Muslim winning the inaugural league, Gadhafi Integrated Academy wanted to take their rivalry to a whole new level just beyond the school competitions they were having. Saad Mukasa, the games teacher at Ghadafi had played a crucial role in sustaining women’s football at the school alongside coach Rajab Buyinza. The duo literally did everything from nurturing, spotting and refining the players some of whom they identified as early as ten and already have a feeder school (Jolly Primary School) where they kept monitoring them until they were ready for secondary school education.

With such a background, having a team competing at the highest level in Uganda’s Women Football was itself satisfying and indeed Ghadafi Integrated Academy had a good shift competing against the likes of Kawempe Muslim, She Corporate, Buikwe Red Stars, Makerere University and Muteesa I Royal University among others.

Zaina Namuleme, Aisha Namukisa, Damalie Matama, Rehema Adubango, Mable Kusasira and Angel Nakuya are some of the key players that featured for Ghadafi in their first season playing in Victoria Group alongside Makerere University (She MAK), Olila High School, Asubo Gafford Ladies, Ajax Queens and Muteesa I Royal University. Their first FUFA Women Elite League game came on 8th November 2015, suffering a 1-0 loss away to Makerere University and would eventually finish the season in fourth place.

The experience gained from featuring in the League at a later stage paid off dividends with the school winning their first and only National Secondary Schools Championship in 2018 in Fort Portal beating a strong field that had Kawempe Muslim, Mukono High School and St. Noa Girls SS among others.

Change of name and administration

At the start of the 2016/17 season, FUFA President Eng. Moses Hassim Magogo bought off Ghadafi Integrated Academy and the name immediately changed to Kampala Queens. Majority of the players that featured in the previous season were retained with several marquee signings made as well. Annet Nakimbugwe, Gladys Nakitto, Resty Kyampiire, Joyce Nakakooza, Fatuma Matovu, Ritah Nakirijja, Dorothy Namugeye, Faridah Kisitu and Winnie Babirye all joining. Former Crested Cranes player Faridah Bulega was named the new coach with Rajab Buyinza retained but as an assistant coach while Ivan Otim was appointed the club CEO.

The team also shifted their base to Villa Park in Nsambya where they started hosting games and indeed got warm reception from SC Villa fans. Despite the massive recruitment, the club failed to reach their desired goal which was to be in the Championship playoffs.

For the next two seasons (2017/18 and 2018/19), Kampala Queens reached the playoffs but failed to progress to the final on both occasions. First, they fell to Kawempe Muslim in the semi-finals of the 2017/18 season before suffering defeat at the hands of Lady Doves the following season.

2019/20 Season

Signing of players did not stop for the Queens of Soccer and ahead of the new season, they got lethal forward Fauzia Najjemba. The ambidextrous player had performed well for Isra Soccer Academy in the previous season, scoring 14 goals. Her arrival made Kampala Queens a force to reckon with knowing she was joining other good players like Lillian Mutuuzo, Resty Nanziri, Mable Kusasira, Zaina Namuleme and Harriet Nakkuba among others.

However, the start was sloppy and by the time the season was cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19, Kampala Queens were languishing in the lower side of the newly created FUFA Women Super League. Their final game that season saw them lose 4-0 at home to She Corporate and this was eventually the final game for Bulega as coach.

Bulega leaves

With the COVID-19 pandemic out of the way, FUFA took a decision to have the FUFA Women Super League return but this time in a condensed format with all games played at FUFA Technical Centre, Njeru. Bulega had left the club with her assistant Isma Mukiibi taking charge of the team alongside Shafik Mutebi.

The team once again flattered to deceive, failing to go beyond the Group stage. They were in the same Group as Uganda Martyrs Ladies FC, Tooro Queens, Makerere University and Kawempe Muslim Ladies.

New era, new ambitions

After all the aforementioned near misses, a lot of changes had to happen at the club to make a complete turnaround prior to the start of the 2021/22 season. First, the club appointed Hamza Lutalo as the head coach coming with his experience from youth football especially boys. The soft spoken tactician also doubles as the head coach of the Uganda U17 Boys’ National Team. Additionally, Meddy Ssengendo was appointed as the new CEO replacing Ivan Otim.

Getting a club house meant the players would be accommodated under the same roof and this helped them jell better due to having numerous training sessions together. In the past, the players would have one or two training sessions before games and would come from their respective homes/schools.

The team also acquired a mini van to cater for transportation of players for both training and matches.

The massive recruitment of players did stop with Shamirah Nalugya, Prima Mugidde, Zaina Nandede and Margaret Kunihira among others all joining.

The only blemish that season came in their first game against Kawempe Muslim on 9th February 2022, losing 2-0 and up to now this is the only defeat under Lutalo’s reign. The team has now gone 33 games unbeaten in all competitions.

Despite all the efforts, Kampala Queens could only settle for second place, losing the title to She Corporate on goal difference on the final day of the league.

The final push

Famous Irish author Bram Stoker has a famous quote, “We learn from mistakes not from success.” And this seemed to have pushed Kampala Queens to become even better. Losing the title did not make them frown but instead went back and built a formidable team that has seen them attain the desired target in the 2022/23 season.

With the core of last season’s team retained, the Queens of Soccer went riot in the transfer market buying the best from the rest of the teams. Asia Nakibuuka, Daisy Nakaziro, Sumaya Komuntale, Jamila Nabulime, Shakirah Mutiibwa, Teddy Najjuma, Hasifah Nassuna, Grace Aluka, Elizabeth Nakigozi, Gloria Namakula and Patricia Akiror among others joined the team at the start of the season.

Right from onset, the team made their intentions clear and have literally brushed aside their opponents without any competition.

On Sunday, the cork was eventually popped as Kampala Queens secured a 2-0 win to clinch the League crown with four games to spare.

According to the club owner, Magogo, their target is beyond just the League indicating they want to compete in CAF Women’s Champions League where Lady Doves and She Corporate have come near yet so far.

“Kampala Queens, we are the 2022/23 FUFA Women Super League. We dreamt, we have conquered. Congratulations to the players, staff, fans and the management of Kampala Queens. We are currently the dream destination of the most talented girls in Uganda offering the best conditions.” He wrote on his Twitter account.

“Our vision is to create a self-sustaining professional women football club in Uganda for prosperity. Sporting Goal (Champions of Africa), Governance Goal (Community club with over 50,000 registered members) and Business Goal (Uganda’s most followed women football brand with millions of fans around the world).” Magogo added.

However, some people think Kampala Queens assembling of literally the National team (Crested Cranes) weakened the League and the Queens of Soccer may not have faced the real test.

A look at all the 14 games for Kampala Queens this season.

  1. Kampala Queens 5-0 Asubo Gafford Ladies
  2. She Corporate 1-2 Kampala Queens
  3. Makerere University 0-1 Kampala Queens
  4. Kampala Queens 4-1 Uganda Martyrs
  5. UCU Lady Cardinals 0-1 Kampala Queens
  6. Kampala Queens 2-0 Olila High School
  7. Lady Doves 0-1 Kampala Queens
  8. Kampala Queens 1-0 Kawempe Muslim
  9. Rines SS 0-1 Kampala Queens
  10. Asubo Gafford Ladies 1-3 Kampala Queens
  11. Kampala Queens 2-0 She Corporate
  12. Kampala Queens 1-1 Makerere University
  13. Uganda Martyrs 0-1 Kampala Queens
  14. Kampala Queens 2-0 UCU Lady Cardinals

Joel Muyita

Joel Muyita is a senior staff writer at Kawowo Sports.

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