Gafford changing girl footballers’ fortunes
Posted Saturday, October 5 2013 at 01:00
Kampala- There is not so much to write about on women’s football in Uganda. There are hardly any structures for the game in the country but somewhere in Kampala one project could change the face of women’s football if supported.
Barely a year in existence, Gafford Girls Soccer Academy is already shaping careers of a good number of players.
Started by Henry Barungi with the funding of a friend - William Gafford - the academy is hosted at Cleveland Primary School, just off the Northern Bypass.
“We started from Mulago in November 2012 before we moved here,” says Barungi, who got inspired to start the academy after watching helpless girls train in Mulago.
Barungi received $400 (about Shs1m) from Gafford, which he used to buy training kit, cones, balls and books. Since then, Barungi has recorded good progress with the project but the road hasn’t been rosy for him.
Convincing parents to let girls join the academy has been a big impediment to the growth of the academy besides inadequate funding.
“The kits and balls Gafford gave us are now worn out after a year of use,” Barungi said. “We also want to have our own pitch because players from Kanyanya and Kiira all come to play from here,” a worried Barungi intimated. Barungi, 24, has resorted to working at his mother’s restaurant and exploiting his IT skills to get money to run the academy that now has four coaches and 33 girls some of whom are in school.
He sometimes has to let the girls play for their school teams where he follows their progress. The girls train only on weekends during school terms and five days a week during holidays. They also play club friendlies during the weekends.
Irene Namubiru, a referee and Kobugabe Annet, a physician at Mulago Hospital, have voluntarily helped to counsel the players. Barungi appeals to the public to help him realize his dream of turning Gafford into an international professional academy with established structures.
He has previously attempted to solicit support from Chelsea Ladies Football Club but failed due to strict FA rules and Uganda’s poor world rankings. Watching eleven of his girls currently playing for the national team and the U-17 national team keeps Barungi hoping for better days.