Last week, I bumped into Hakim Magumba in town. It was the first time to meet him in years and what started as a small chat extended into a long conversation about life since his retirement from football.
Young football enthusiasts may not know him well but a peak Magumba in the late nineties and early 2000s was SC Villa’s midfield enforcer during the club’s second golden era. He was also an assured starter in the Uganda Cranes during that period. Yet, since his retirement from football in 2016, Magumba has remained somehow silent though he has not left the sport.
The diminutive player was renowned for his creativity, speed, and technical ability. He had a special craft for intercepting passes but oftentimes, instead of clearing the ball to safety, Magumba would always go for his own defence-splitting pass. To crowned it all, he was a disciplined player who earned just one yellow card in his entire career.
Because of his pace and the way he easily beat his opponents, SC Villa fans tagged him Boda Boda in reference to how the motorcycles manoeuvre their way in tight spots.
Magumba was born and raised in Iganga town and it was in 1995 when his talent caught the eye of Iganga TC FC team manager Gume Gobi, who wooed the pintsized youngster to the second-tier side. He played a key role to help Iganga gain promotion to the 1996 topflight.
At Iganga, Magumba quickly established himself as a playmaker. His spectacular performances saw Ben Omoding summon him to the national Under-17 team. In 1996, many clubs wanted to sign Magumba but Omoding advised him to stay at Iganga but in 1998, he signed for SC Villa.
MAGUMBA THE BODA BODA
At SC Villa, coach David Otti gave Magumba his debut on February 7, 1998, in a league opener against Express at Namboole stadium. Shortly after when Paul Hasule took over from Otti, he diversified Magumba’s game by playing him as an attacking midfielder.
Magumba’s understanding with strikers Hassan Mubiru, Andrew Mukasa, wingers Phillip Ssozi and Joseph Mutyaba was awesome. He was part of the SC Villa team which won the first double that very season. Magumba was unplayable; he tore apart rival defences with killer passes much to the admiration of SC Villa fans.
And it did not surprise many when both Hassan Mubiru and Andrew Mukasa scored goals for fun. While Mukasa and Mubiru scored 45 and 27 goals respectively that season, it was Magumba who made most of the assists.
His pace and one-twos often confused his markers. He was difficult to mark— not just because of his pace but he was one of the most skillful players I have ever watched in football.
At that time, Magumba was drafted into the Uganda Kobs side (U-23) and helped the team qualify for the 1999 All Africa Games held in South Africa. However, a knee injury ruled him out of the event.
UGANDA CRANES CALLING
In April 2000, Cranes coach Harrison Okagbue gave Magumba his Cranes debut in the World Cup qualifying game against Guinea. The game ended 4-4 but for one, Okagbue singled out Magumba’s performance as a positive.
Later in a July, 2000 Afcon qualifier against Malawi, Maguma scored the winner in a 2-1 victory at Nakivubo stadium. At SC Villa, Maguma was a cult hero of sorts, scoring crucial goals against rivals Express and KCC.
The departure of Mubiru and Mukasa to Express meant that Villa had to depend on Magumba for not only creating chances, but also to score goals. It did not come as a surprise when SC Villa won four more league titles (2000- 2004) plus 2003 and 2005 Cecafa Cup titles.
In fact, all coaches who came after Hasule like Milutin Sredojevic and Sam Timbe admired Magumba and he was always the first on their starting line-ups.
QUITTING SC VILLA
In 2004, Villa handed the captaincy to Magumba but in 2005, he was stripped of the armband for unknown reasons and handed to Andy Mwesigwa. By 2007, Magumba was closing in on retirement and Cranes coach Laszlo Csaba dropped him for an Afcon qualifier against Tanzania. But he remained strong influence at Villa until he quit to join Rwandan side Atraco FC.
Things did not go well in Rwanda and cancelled his two-year deal and returned to SC Villa in 2008. He helped the Jogoos win the 2009 and 2015 Uganda Cup titles. Magumba quit football in 2016 to draw curtains on his 20-year career. At 41 years, Magumba doesn’t have any regrets in football and he is succeeding as a businessman.