Every day a couple of friends and I go and play football at the East Kololo primary school sports field. This once lush green field is now a dusty patch that must irritate the people of Upper Kololo who look down on it from their leafy compounds boxed in by high walls. Still it is one of the last open spaces to elude the long arm of shopping mall developers.
Seeing that it is easily the only play ground in a radius of 5km we share it with a number of other groups the most notable of which are 18-20 year olds from the dirty poor neighborhood of Naguru . These boys are coached by a fast talking chap called Sakari Sebi who has the demeanor of a street preacher and a voice to match.
He can’t be much older than they are and the only thing he has to offer is his obvious street-credibility and the experience he has collected off the people and the processes he has stumbled across in this sport-rich neighborhood. The boys appreciate this and respond to his every instruction.
They train from around 4:00pm and only move aside politely when we show up in all our pot-bellied dullness, sometimes as late as 6:40pm. They are at a school-going age and shouldn’t be here unless they have figured how to squeeze their syllabi in the morning hours or are being paid.
I haven’t figured out how coach Sebi keeps them motivated but they still turn up 6 days a week and play for him. So in his own way Sebi is apart from teaching them football also contributing to keeping these chaps off the streets and out of harm’s way.
I am writing about these boys and Sebi because people like them don’t always have a voice. There are so many people like Sebi whose selfless acts go unnoticed and therefore unrewarded. And I am not talking financial reward here but recognition at a minimum.
This group of boys could be the cradle of Uganda’s next football starts who knows. Some of them are quite talented they could stand a chance if the momentum was upped and maintained. And because we have no football development structure to write about, the Football Administration has to reach out to volunteers such as Sebi. There causes must be propped up and carried to the next level.
Sebi needs qualified coaches to visit and aid his efforts. He needs material support to make his labors worthwhile otherwise he stands no chance and will only be the stop that the boys use as they await the bus that carries them off to a future full of the temptations.
But for now Sebi is channeling all that adolescent energy into something productive. That is his bit. I therefore appeal to everyone who loves football to come and support his cause in whatever way possible.
The rewards for that are not apparent but there is a certain satisfaction to be derived from aiding a noble cause.
And this is what I feel right now as I use this platform to bring the efforts of this young man to your attention. So here is a starting point - go see these young lads train. Thank you.