For a man who has played the game of golf for less than a decade, Moses Matsiko is truly blessed to be the president of Uganda Golf Union (UGU).
They say leadership comes from God and here is a perfect example to underline that.
Matsiko defeated a more experienced Paul Baite by 11 votes to replace Innocent Kihika at the UGU Assembly last Friday.
“I wear a big smile because of winning,” Matsiko began in an interview early this week. He had just cooled off after a round of golf earlier in the day at Uganda Golf Club (UGC) in Kitante.
A presidential round already
We had had to wait for nearly five hours after our scheduled time for this chat as Matsiko paced through the 18 holes.
“I landed in a bee-hive,” Matsiko, a single handicapper, narrated his round, “I played against two professionals from Tooro Club who had asked me for a presidential game and these guys took me to the gutters. I think I was a bit fatigued but I will come back and revenge.”
Golf presidency is an honour that Matsiko is enjoying already. But the humble character did not elevate to the top of the pyramid by himself.
Well, some parties, have perceived his victory as ‘jumping the cue’ since he has assumed the top place surprisingly earlier than some individuals who have been longer in the game.
“In a few words, I would say, it was the will of the people,” Matsiko said of his 21-10 victory over Baite.
“The golfing fraternity fully understood and believed in what we stand for. And when it came to the elections, it was just a demonstration of who says what and who means what and who can do it.
The calm and collected Baite had served as UGU secretary during Kihika’s two-year reign.
“Paul Baite is a good man but he was just facing the will of the people,” Matsiko said of his opponent, “I also thought that Paul won, I was surprised that he got 10 votes. But because of what we stand for, there is no loser in this one. Paul is very experienced golfer administrator and we will always go to him for consultation.”
Small beginnings, love for challenges
Matsiko has not lived around golf in Uganda for long but, his presence has increasingly been felt at clubs not only the Lake Victoria Serena Resort & Spa in Kigo where he has been serving as captain, but also in UGC, Entebbe as well as upcountry clubs.
The 40-year-old got trapped in the game when he honoured an invite by his friends to try and play six years ago.
“I remember the first challenge I was given a club to hit a ball, it was a par-3 and I was asked to hit a shot. I didn’t hit that ball beyond 10 metres away from me.
“Naturally for me, I was always used to tough stuff. So I told myself that I had to get into the game and show my friends that actually, I can do what they can do even better.”
Luck in team manager role
With 90 days of practice at the range in company of now US-based Amos Kamya, Matsiko started at handicap 28 which has since come down to five. “I started playing with the professionals, artisans and the high handicappers and that shaped my game too quickly,” the businessman says.
At the AGM that elected Kihika two years ago, Matsiko was unanimous placed on the UGU committee in charge of the national team, something that would in turn spring him to the current position.
“I was very excited about it even more than I am now because I was posted to manage a team of friends that had helped me improve my game. I found it a very easy thing, we had a number of tours both regional and global and were able to achieve close to 80 percent of our success.”
With that scorecard, Matsiko in turn of events stood, winning the polls and now has a five-point plan. “In this game of golf now in Uganda, I cannot say we are going to reinvent the will. It is the same things, it is the same goals. It is just how you approach them,” he said.
Team work, efficiency
To him, key to achieving all this is team work. “When we won on February 28, I was excited about becoming the president of the Union but I was more excited having the team that I have. It is a team that has profound experience.”
His vice-president John Katto will be serving a second term in the role, secretary Anthony Agaba has held several roles at different clubs, so is treasurer Joseph Bagabo and committee members Prof. Robert Ejiku and Jackson Were complete the executive.
It is this team that Matsiko wants to foster the game ahead. “Transparency, accountability, efficiency and unity are our themes,” he says, arms opening wide.
Changes in national team selection
“We will try and play a lot of focus on the unity between clubs, between union members , encourage and promote cooperation all the way from upcountry clubs to the bigger clubs in town. It was fading a little bit.”
“The future of the game is in the hands of the juniors. The talent is out there, what we need to do is extend and rationalize the programs to cut across the country from Arua to Kabale to and make sure that we are flat out in support the junior programs.”
Another crucial area for Matsiko is how the national amateur team is selected. He plans to make a few changes by seeding players rather than having them play rounds to qualify.
“Through the world handicapping system which is a global trend, we might be forced to change our approach to the qualification to the national teams. If we are ranking and keeping the records of all players at all clubs in the country, then we can do seeding just like our neighbors Kenya, South Africa and USA are doing.”
Matsiko wants increment of sponsorships in the game to be done in a strategic manner. “We will try and iron out the mix-up where the amateurs, ladies, professionals all get the same sponsor which ends up fatiguing them. So a categorical breakdown, engagement approach and a ball pronouncement of the value that the sponsors will get out of associating with different tournaments should be able to increase the sponsorships,” he added.
Despite having an option to extend his term by an extra two years in 2022, Matsiko hopes that the initial two years will be enough to leave a mark.
NEW UGU EXECUTIVE
President: Moses Matsiko
Vice president: John Katto
Secretary: Anthony Agaba
Treasurer: Joseph Bagabo
Committee Member: Robert Ejiku
Committee Member: Jackson Were
MATSIKO AT A GLANCE
Position: Founder Pinnacle Security and Director Protectorate SPC Ltd
Status: Married (4 Children)
Best Golf Round: Five-under 67 (at par-72 Kigo)
Nike or Adidas: Used to be Nike, now Underarmour & Adidas
Current Phone: Samsung S8 Plus
First Car: Corolla Estate (2000)
Favourite Holiday Destination: Wilder Waters (Uganda), Florida (USA), Mauritius
Favourite Colour: Yellow
2018-2019: Manager National Team
2018-To-date: Captain Lake Victoria Serena Resort & Spa
FORMER UGU PRESIDENTS
2018-19: Innocent Kihika
2016-17: Johnson Omolo
2014-15: Kiryowa Kiwanuka
2012-13: Amos Nzeyi
2010-11: John Kisembo
2008-09: Dr. Eric Tiyo Adriko
2006-07: Dr. Sam Zaramba
2003-05: Jim Muhwezi
2002: Wilson Toko (RIP)