With his good heart, Darius Mugoye was able to sacrifice his life for football with extra hours of planning and fruitful endless meetings.
The dark morning of Tuesday, 7th November 2023 will forever remain a grey patch on the calendar for many loyal sports persons; in particular to the football family in Uganda, CECAFA region, the African continent and the rest of the world.
As early as 5 AM, unpalatable news filtered through Mengo Hospital to the rest of the world about the unfortunate death of a diligent football icon – Darius “Kitiibwa” Mugoye.
A shrewd administrator, Mugoye, 42, had been in active service for the beautiful game coming to close to two decades.
He duly served in various positions of authority raising to the vice president’s role for arguably Uganda’s biggest sports entity, Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA).
One ought to deservedly credit the visible and immeasurable contribution the deceased impacted onto football as a leader.
He was simply a king-maker in simplicity with bold albeit effective decisions that virtually had eternal and long-lasting impressions.
Since 2013, Mugoye was vice president to the current president of FUFA, Hon. Eng. Moses Hassim Magogo (Ssalongo).
It was either by default rather than design that Mugoye preferred the behind-the-scenes roles given his unquestionable passion, sincerity, accountable character, reliability, commitment, dependability and sheer availability to make things happen.
He was basically that perfect fit, tailor made for the roles assigned to him. Mugoye perfected the tasks at hand with bold aggressive-but-sometimes risky decisions, consultations, patience and yes, the team-work element.
A keen advisor, a listener, intelligent contributor to projects, a philanthropist of sorts, a team player and an effective politician, Mugoye had it in abundance.
In a nutshell, the creator God had molded him for the persona he bore and granted him the wisdom to execute the final nail with worthy hands on decisions.
Mugoye loved football to the brim. I remember one time when Uganda Cranes played an away match.
He reminded us of the kick-off time 4 hours prior as we assembled on the Television screen to follow the game proceedings.
With his good heart, he was able to sacrifice his life for football with extra hours of planning and fruitful endless meetings.
He loved grassroots football to the brim. Little wonder, therefore, he has been deep rooted and stemmed into youth football for almost his entire life with the St Mary’s Hope Nabweru school team a main force in secondary schools’ football as well as the Kampala regional league.
On a personal note, I got close to him during the Airtel –FUFA Rising Stars U-15 boys and girls’ football tournament back in 2015.
I remember seeing him traverse the entire country across all the FUFA regions; Northern, Western, West Nile, North East, Kitara, Eastern, Buganda and his “dearest” Kampala in search for the next generation of footballers who are all active to-date.
On 9th May 2015, he was at the Boma playground in Hoima, to officiate at the closure of the then Copa Coca Cola secondary schools football tournament climax between St Mary’s Kitende and Masaka “Aga Khan” SS.
His speech after Kitende’s 4-0 win wooed many with spot on predictions that were two years later turned into realistic scenes when Uganda Cranes qualified to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the first time in over 38 years since 1978.
His dedication to football was testament of the special love he had for the game.
Every day was like valentines’ day of football for Mugoye especially when the national teams and his dear Express were in action.
He was a great educationalist with two projects; St Mary’s New Hope Nabweru and Heritage College – Bwaise that have definitely enriched many students thus far.
In one my visits to St Mary’s New Hope Nabweru in early 2022, I was assured of the best service given the warm reception at the gate until I penned in the visitors’ book.
We had a brief chat inside the office, and he politely requested we move to the Nabweru field of play which he communicated to his “boys”.
In no time, a seat was prepared at his favourite corner of the dusty and barren Nabweru playground which everyone around that area knew.
He greeted as many people as we passed during the short distance walk from the school to the playground – Mugoye was a pro-people’s man.
Mugoye’s exceptional inter-personal skills were always manifested day-after-day. Many a time, he sacrificed personal resources; including finances to dear ones to enjoy in their free-time.
He was a trusted gem with an accountable soul. Little wonder therefore, he was entrusted as a member on the PAMOJA project that won Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania a joint bid to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations finals.
As head of the FUFA SACCO, Mugoye witnessed the drastic savings from virtually scratch to now over Ug.shs 500,000,000 without any queries on the general ledger account.
Judging from the endless messages of sorrow and the hundreds of people who flocked the FUFA headquarters, Namirembe Cathedral, Nabweru playground and final resting place at Rubanga (Sheema district) to pay the final rest, it is evident Mugoye has died a true football hero.
At Namirembe Cathedral in Kampala, a memorial service led by Archbishop of Uganda Samuel Stephen Kaziimba Mugalu, assisted by Rev. Sanga Mulinda and others delivered the day’s sermon to the masses.
Mugoye was laid to rest in Rubanga, Sheema on Thursday, 9th November 2023.
“The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” – Psalm 34:18
“Verily, we belong to Allah and to Him, we shall return” – Quran 2:156
Rest in Peace Darius “Kitiibwa” Mugoye!