Athiyo: Big brother and coach

Sunday July 7 2019



Faisal Gamma and Mohammed Athiyo

Faisal Gamma and Mohammed Athiyo 

By Deus Bugembe

TWO IN A POD. Mohammed Athiyo, a retired rugby player with the Rugby Cranes, Pirates and Heathens as lock and flanker, is now head coach at Heathens. His young brother Faisal Gamma, the business development manager at Hima Cement Limited , is a retired Rugby Cranes international but still active at Heathens as a halfback. Deus Bugembe caught up with the brothers.

Faisal Gamma

How would you describe Athiyo?
Fun-loving, ambitious, creative, not easily understood, team player and he possesses the never quit attitude. When he does something, he wants to go all the way until he has met his objective.

What is your earliest memory of him?
Earliest memories of Athyio was him protecting me from bullies. He has always been that big brother you can look up to during tough times. He always stands up whenever he feels like anyone is being made uncomfortable.

What nickname did you have for him growing up?
Emperor Akihito. He loved watching Japanese movies.

What is he most scared of?
Clowns.

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What is the craziest thing he did as a child?
We were boys only, so there was a lot bordering into a horror story but mum was never far away from intervening. She raised us pretty well by checking the craziness.

What is the craziest thing you did together?
We once came up with a plan of going out to party late in the night but we had no idea how we were going to pull it off. In the middle of the night when everyone was asleep, we sneaked out of our rooms and escaped with dad’s car at around 3am and partied all the way.

Were you always friends?
Yes, from day one we have been there for each other whenever one needed a shoulder to lean on.

How often did you fight?
We had uncountable arguments but kept it cool and I do not remember us getting into a physical fight at anyone time.

Did you ever team up to fight someone?
Yes, a number of times. There is this one time at the rugby club when we felt a couple of guys were being disrespectful to a young woman. We felt the urge to do something and we taught those guys a lesson I am sure they have never forgotten.

How often do you meet these days?
The dude is my coach at Heathens. We meet three to four times a week, especially at Kyadondo Rugby Club for the training sessions and an extra day can chip in when we have something outside rugby to deal with.

Mohammed Athiyo

How would you describe Gamma?
Cheeky, a clown as he tends to come up with the most absurd pranks (Jalal) style and a very dedicated family man.

How would you describe yourself?
I am committed, more than willing to accomplish whatever targets I set my mind to, cheeky as the saying goes all work and no play make Athiyo a dull chap, and I always see the positives in a negative situation. I consider them as a learning curve ball in life and it explains why a good friend of mine calls me a ‘Jolly Wanker’.

What is your earliest memory of him?
My earliest memory of Gamma was us playing cowboy and Indians which is an old American Western film. He was the Indian and I was the cowboy since I had the toy gun and he speared me right under the eye. I could say he gave me the first stitches yet I had no idea many more were to come.

What nickname did you have for him growing up?
G.Funk because of his love for funk music, especially Heavy D. He had mad love for that genre and went crazy whenever that kind of music was played anywhere, especially, at family parties.

What is he most scared of?
Dolls (Annabelle) inspired by a horror movie which scared the hell out of him. I even took some time off to tease him about it.

What is the craziest thing he did as a child?
Quite a number of crazy things he did and some really sad, I wouldn’t want to talk about them. However, all his craziness came with a consequence from mum’s rod, she was always there to put us in check and we owe a lot of what we are to her. We love you mum.

What is the craziest thing you did together?
We once sneaked out of the house to get the feel of the night life after reading and hearing a lot about it. He was way under age and I hope the experience never traumatised him.

Were you always friends?
I guess we have been friends our entire lives.

How often did you fight?
We have always had arguments and challenges but nothing serious we could not get over. Whenever things got sour, we knew we had to iron it out in order to keep our relationship as healthy as possible.

Did you ever team up to fight someone?
A couple of times but I won’t go into details. However, one thing we all agree on is to stand up for people we feel are being taken advantage of and we will never stop doing that.

How often do you meet these days?
About three times a week I take over Heathens training sessions at Kyadondo Rugby Club and he’s always among the players. We also keep up with our partying antics maybe once a week. It is funny but I am his coach which means we have to prepare for games during the week.

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