The ongoing Copa Coca-Cola schools championship at Masaka SS has turned the surroundings into a buzzing area.
Business is booming. In fact, even Masaka town, which is a kilometer away, has been hyperactive for the last one week since the arrival of 58 schools countrywide to take part in the annual tournament.
For starters, sellers of food items and soft drinks, particularly katogo and Rolex, are making massive profits from the more than a thousand visitors.
Business starts as early as 6am when the early birds take their breakfast.
This goes on unabated during the day as competition takes place on the various pitches. This year’s tournament has been blessed with little rain, meaning matches have gone ahead on schedule. That has also meant that sponsors Coca-Cola have had a field day with players and fans enjoying their favourite soft drink.
Meanwhile, nearby hostels, hotels and guesthouses have also made a kill with the large number of guests, many of whom are top football figures from Kampala. They travelled to Masaka to spot promising talents whom they can woo to their clubs.
One such conspicuous figure is Asaph Mwebaze, the coach of recently-promoted Maroons FC, who is regularly seen noting down players that impress on the pitch.
The tournament has previously unearthed several youngsters that have gone on to become national team stars. The likes of Ibra Sekagya, Farouk Miya and current Cranes skipper Dennis Onyango made their name at the tournament.
One such youngster is Abdullar Senyonga of St Juliana High School, who has so far bagged 17 goals in just seven games. He leads the scoring charts after netting three against Karaki SS, four against Kotido SS before netting a whopping six goals against Kijomoro SS.
The senior four student has taken the tournament by storm and is the early favourite to land the most valuable player (MVP) gong when the two-week tournament concludes this Saturday.
However, Jeff Serunjogi, the St Juliana High School owner, says he has no plans of linking his star player to any football agent or club.
“He [Senyonga] is barely 16 years and I don’t want anything to distract him from his studies much as he is a talented footballer,” he says.
St Juliana won all their seven games in the group phase, the same as eight-time champions St Mary’s SS Kitende. The two schools are widely seen as favourites for the title but there is still a long way to go before the final.
Defending champions Kibuli SS had a slow start but they will not easily give up their title whereas hosts Masaka SS, in spite of garnering little support from the locals, are worthy bets to lift the trophy.
Jinja SS v Ryakasinga SS
Kibuli SS v Buhobe SS
Dynamic SS v Bp Negri
St Mary's Kitende v Layibi Col
Namagabi v Jinja Progressive
Kimanya SS v Citizen HS
St Juliana HS v Nakaseke SS
Buddo SS v Masaka SS