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Recognising legends of women in football

Annet Nakimbugwe receiving an award. She played for She Cranes in 2000

Annet Nakimbugwe receiving an award. She played for She Cranes in 2000

Women’s football in Uganda has registered massive movers right from the 90s until today.

Depending on which side of the fence you are leaning on, there are so many people who have played a key role to keep women’s football floating in different generations from the 90s, 2000s and now.

In its own wisdom, Fufa felt the importance of how much women in football contribute to the game. With the inaugural Women in Football Bonanza held mid this week, Fufa used the opportunity to recognize some of the personalities that have contributed to the development of women football in Uganda.

A day will be reserved each year for women in football and women football. It will be about highlighting who is who in the game, what milestones have been recorded and the challenges faced by the women in football as they try to take football to another level.

At Sheraton hotel Kampala where seven people were recognized for their immense contribution to the game, Fufa clearly stated that everyone has played a key role to help women’s football enjoy its wave positively.

All the seven persons recognised and Kawempe Muslim SS have funded, supported and advised on the game. It has been a massive journey since 1998 when the first national women’s team was formed to play a couple of matches. The women’s league was non-existent but people like Paul Ssali, Chris Kalibbala, Kyambadde and Mama Becca in the early days of the 1990s while Hajji Twaha Kakaire, Denis Obua fueled further women’s football.

Ssali, while at Kampala United FC, used his own money to keep the girls playing. He talks about two trips to Kenya where he spent his own money to take the national team play but with the promise that he would be refunded. It’s a story for another day. With all difficulties in organising the girls, Ssali never gave up.

Chris Kalibbala made sure that football continues to thrive in Western Uganda as he organised a symposium in Bushenyi in the 90s to manage the negative talk about young girls who were being stopped to play football. It was a taboo in his area for a girl to kick a ball.

Mama Becca will always be remembered for her endless love and passion towards the game. The girls who played football under her era will attest to many football people that Mama Becca inspired a great generation to play women football.

Ayub Khalifan has been at Kawempe Muslim for 24 years, Annet Nakimbugwe has played the game at the highest level with the national team, then club football. Betty Mayanja has kept football going in the suburbs of Nsambya with her Nsambya Young Soccer Academy.

Catherine Adipo has been enjoying refereeing from 1986 till today where she is a Caf instructor. Kawempe Muslim, under the former headmaster Hajji Bruhan Matovu, welcomed women football at the school in 2000. The rest is history now.

It is sad that some are not alive to see the fruits of their sweat. Women’s football in Uganda has shone in the spotlight and has grown under the watchful gaze of its followers and funders.

With women’s football now on television, the figures of those watching will keep growing. There have been headline moments already about women’s football but, surprisingly, plenty of stories from across the the country and continent may not tell exactly what was done by the gallant men and women who have contributed to the growth of the game.

With the current Fufa leadership under president Moses Hassim Magogo, women football will continue to thrive because bigger plans have been mooted for the game.

The author is Fufa communications director

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