Heart to Heart
Juggling marriage, business and volleyball
Posted Thursday, February 6 2014 at 02:00
Love and volleyball. On December 15, 2013, Hannington and Josephine ‘Phina’ Nsubuga celebrated one year in marriage. The two spend so much time together and yet so little with their family. Clive Kyazze spoke to volleyball’s revered couple on how they manage to meet field expectations, run two separate businesses and keep their home in one piece.
Sitting down with a happily-married couple for an interview is a taunting task for anyone, especially if you have no hopes of walking down that road in the near future. That’s the dilemma this writer faced when the Nsubugas agreed to be interviewed. As if that wasn’t enough, Phina spoke only once [accidentally], so Hannignton did most of the talking.
How they met
The Nsubugas met in 2005 at a friend’s graduation party.
“I had seen her for a while at Kampala Amateur Volleyball Club (KAVC) and I took time studying her. [Phina wears a beaming smile] It was on that day that I decided to come out of my shell and started a friendship that grew as time went by,” Nsubuga says.
For Hannington, seeing Phina wouldn’t be a problem, and in fact, he was bound to see her a great deal, since they both played for the same club, KAVC.
Seven years later, Hannignton asked for Phina’s hand in marriage and on December 15, 2012 the dream came to pass.
The first 12 months
When we talk about their wedding anniversary, another attempt to make Phina say a word finally yield something. We can probably blame it on the jovial mood.
“We have only been married for a year but we have lived together for seven years. It’s a great feeling to celebrate a landmark with the one you love. One year already behind us, only God knows how many more we have together,” Phina says.
But we all know every relationship comes with its ups and downs.
“Many have been there, and I would say we are just setting off. Challenges have been there, but facing them and finding mutual ways to solve them has seen us come this far,” Nsubuga says.
The couple is blessed with two children; Darlington and Gabriel Nsubuga. Because of their busy schedule that involves work, volleyball and team meetings [late into the night]. One wonders whether the Nsubugas ever get time for their children.
“I drive the children to school and use that time to bond with them since we usually get home late. We talk about everything during that time. Darlington always has teasing and challenging questions for me,” Nsubuga says.
At this point, Phina remembers to call home to find out if all is okay and to remind the house-help not to wait for them since they will be returning home a little late.
Nsubuga adds: “Sometimes we go back home late when they are already in bed, but that doesn’t stop us from compensating for lost time. We carry them along on weekends when we are going for volleyball activities.”
The Nsubugas have not left their bread to only come from volleyball. Like many couples today, the sports lovers have set up a family business, which they personally manage. So are they together all the time?
“It’s not true that we are always together from the time we wake up to the time we go to bed. Our businesses are very different despite being in the same umbrella,” Nsubuga says.
“Phina manages some of the businesses while I deal with the others. We meet once in a while during board meetings,” he adds.
On a normal day, the couple gets to meet late in the day when they have a club training.
Although they are business partners, Nsubuga says Phina built on what was already in place.
“By the time I met Phina, I was already a businessman but can’t deny the fact that she has played a very important role in improving our business this far.”
Volleyball vs relationship
If you meet the Nsubugas around volleyball circles, you would think their lives start and end with volleyball.
If they are not training during the week, they are playing on weekends. But volleyball has not played any part in strengthening or making couple’s relationship better, they say.
“Volleyball has not improved our relationship in any way. It is just a sport we both love,” Nsubuga stresses..
At this point, Phina looks like she wants to disagree. But since she had vowed not to say a word from the onset, she holds her tongue.
“It has just wasted a lot of our quality time!” Nsubuga insists. At this point, Phina looks away.
So what has kept them together?
Nsubuga says commitment has improved their relationship and they both know what they want.
Balancing sports, business and family
The couple have been able to excel with podium finishes in volleyball and beach volleyball for over a decade now, both games calling for total commitment and discipline.
“Volleyball in Uganda is not a professional sport, not even semiprofessional. All activities related with it are either on weekends or after office hours. This gives us the opportunity to manage and balance everything,” Nsubuga says.
That said, sports, business and parenting in one way or the other will always come with their challenges. For the Nsubugas, it is the businesses that have given them the most challenges.
“Mixing business and pleasure. Sometimes the other party thinks they should be helped with some of the duties,” Nsubuga says and smiles while glancing at Phina who is concentrating on her coffee.
“Monitoring becomes hard, especially since the other’s role falls in your supervisory area. It would be worse if Phina was boss,” he adds, to which Phina laughs out loud.
How do they overcome their challenges?
Nsubuga says they practice pofessionalism at its best. Trust and faith are key. You can only develop and grow stronger by combining efforts.
After the interview, I do not want to leave but Phina won’t talk to me still. I only hope that we can steal some shots, and guess where we caught her? At the airport, returning from a game in the Netherlands.
Name: Hannington Nsubuga
Birth: Born on January 21, 1979 at Nakaseke Hospital.
Education: Hannington attended Timuna Primary School and Ndejje SS for O and A-Level. He enrolled for a Diploma in Refrigeration, Hitting, Ventilation and Air Conditioning at Kyambogo University.
Work: He started working in 2003 at Thermal Cool Uganda Limited, and three years later, he started Thermal Solutions Ltd, where he is the managing director to date.
Name: Josephine ‘Phina’ Nsubuga.
Birth: Born Josephine Namanda on October 7, 1982 in Mukono.
Education: She attended St Agnes Girls Boarding School, Naggalama and later joined Iganga SS [S1-S3] then Stella Maris College Nsube [S4-S6]. She later enrolled for a Bachelors of Arts in Social Sciences at Makerere University.
Work: In 2003, Phina, together with her husband Hannington, started Thermal Solutions where she works to date.
quick test :How much do these lovebirds know about eachother?
What is Phina’s favourite meal?
Hannington: Butter chicken, vegetable pilau.
Phina: Very true.
Who is her favourite artiste?
Hannington: Judith Babirye.
Phina: Hahaha Babirye? It’s Grace Nakimera and Chameleone.