Remembering Walugembe: goalie, coach and therapist
- Written by Hassan Badru Zziwa
Friday, March 24 will mark four years since the passing on of Jack Ndawula Walugembe, a former physician and therapist for The Cranes.
Many may remember him for his role to help injured players while at the same time keeping them fit but he also starred as a top-level goalkeeper and coach in the 1970s and 1980s.
He started out at KCC FC during the club’s golden era, which stretched from the late 1970s to the early 1980s, but the stiff competition at the club at the time denied him a chance to cement himself at the club.
I got to know Walugembe in 1976 as a reserve goalkeeper at Lint Marketing Board (Lint) FC, but due to the presence of Jamil Kasirye and Moses Mawejje Birungi, he remained a bench player.
The departure of Birungi to Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB) FC in 1977 helped Walugembe get some games to showcase his talent. In 1978, Kasirye moved to KCC, something that seemed to have created a chance for Walugembe, but coach Mohammad Sekasamba instead elevated Robert Kiwanuka as his first choice goalkeeper.
The lack of playing time created an opportunity for Walugembe to learn and work as a muscle therapist un- der the guidance of team physician, Dr Timothy Mutesasira.
In February 1979, Mutesasira was appointed KCC club doctor, which paved the way for Walugembe to also sign for the Lugogo-based side. At KCC, Walugembe was third in the pecking order due to the presence of Kasirye and Grace Galabuzi.
Yet again, he spent much of his time at the club doing his therapy on his teammates. In 1981, Kasirye joined SC Villa. Galabuzi too left the country. This created space for Walugembe to earn some playing time. But his performance was found wanting when the club lost back-to-back matches against Coffee and Tobacco.
KCC acted swiftly and pro- moted young John Tebusweke from its feeder side, City Cubs, to first-time goalie. KCC went on to win the league title they had last won in 1977. In 1982, Walugembe’s woes increased when KCC snapped up experienced Cranes goalie Paul Ssali.
TURNING TO COACHING
After realizing he was now the third-choice goalie, Walugembe moved to second-tier side Pepsi FC in 1983 and was made first-choice goalie. In 1985, the club coach William Magino quit the club, paving way for Walugembe to get elevated to player/coach.
In 1988, the club’s parent company, Victoria Bottling Company, withdrew its funding, and the new development saw Pepsi FC fold. In April 1991, Walugembe was named Wandegeya FC coach but yet again the club folded a year later, forcing Walugembe to quit coaching altogether.
UGANDA CRANES “DOCTOR”
Thereafter, he became one of the most sought-after muscle therapists, and his services were ex- tended to different disciplines like netball, handball, and football. He became popular among the players, and it did not come as a surprise when, in 2006, he was named one of the Uganda Cranes physicians.
Two years on, he left the national team to go into private practice but in 2012, he resurfaced at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) FC as the team’s doctor.
He later moved to Onduparaka FC before settling at Wakiso Giants in 2018 until his death in 2019. He suffered a stroke a few hours before the league game between the Wakiso Giants and Kyetume FC in Jinja. He was rushed to Nsambya Hospital before breathing his last.
Rest in power, Walugembe.