The men’s Aziz Damani National Volleyball League final has been evenly poised. Sport-S and Nemostars have played like teams that match each other pound for pound.
The players contested for every ball there was settling both Game One and Two in the decisive sets. New heroes were emerging as both sides found ways to nullify the old guard.
The decisive Game Three was a game no one would have wanted to miss. But we are now likely to settle for an anti-climax instead of what was arguably supposed to be the biggest final in local sport this year.
This is after Sport-S, through their player-coach and facilitator Warren Muhangi wrote to Uganda Volleyball Federation (UVF) president Hadijah Namanda, informing her that they would be “unable to appear for the (decisive) game,” citing cases of match fixing.
“We cannot do much about a club that has made their decision. We respect it but we have to come up with measures to see that the league continues smoothly as we handle the issues raised,” Namanda said acknowledging receipt of the letter.
Daily Monitor understands that Muhangi was triggered by the federation’s decision to move the decisive game from Sunday (November 17) – hours after they let Nemo bounce back from 12-9 down in the decisive set to win 13-15 and ultimately Game Two as they levelled the series 1-1.
“In the rules, you can only change the game 48 hours before the game,” Sport-S coach Benon Mugisha told us.
Sunday’s game was supposed to be played at Sport-S Grounds – Nsambya but we understand that the federation later reversed the decision as it would give one of the finalists home advantage.
“The game was called off without any reason or consultation with clubs. This is not about venues because we could easily have gone to Nkumba, Mukono or even KIU (Kampala International University in Kansanga) as long as the game was on Sunday.”
Muhangi used this opportunity to call out his adversaries and warn about the “extortion and corruption” in the game that has denied his side a chance to win the league despite playing five finals in the past 10 years.
“We had actually tried to attribute our failure to probably bad luck and a few errors. It is only this year that evidence (in black and white) has been seen that that has confirmed that all these years it was always the plan between eventual winners and UVF to deny us league victory,” Muhangi wrote in his impassioned letter to Namanda that he also widely shared to the greater fraternity.
“… but after we got evidence of extortion and corrupt intent that happened before the game and the subsequent reckless comments made by members of Nemostars that rhymed with those of UVF members, we are convinced that we could have been playing against eight players on court of which two (the referees) were silent numbers on the Nemo court.”
In his explanation, Muhangi believes that the corruption in the game is driven by the widespread belief that his side cannot represent the country at the Africa Club Championships as league winners are mandated to do.
“Since UVF’s wish and plan is to have teams that can represent Uganda at the continental level win, not Sport-S that cannot, we have decided to forego the game and let Nemo take this year’s league,” he wrote.
And when we asked him to clarify if they would represent he said; “That’s my problem. We are a poor club that cannot manage the amounts involved but that should not be a case for unfair treatment.”
Neither in his letter nor during our conversations does Muhangi reveal the names of the corrupt officials.
He, however, calls out chairman UVF referees commission Innocent Komakech, for “not listening to complaints from clubs and vindicating persons whose conduct has been proven to be wanting.”
In the letter he also accuses the UVF vice president Patricia Ahumuza of making careless comments, hating him and wanting Sport-S to die out.
Ahumuza, however, declined to make comments saying she “would prefer to respond after he (Muhangi) has adduced evidence of this to the president.”
Nemo’s coach Andrew Okapis was also not spared for making disparaging comments about Sport-S players. In fact Muhangi petitioned Nemo’s patron Neko Muduse-Ojala to reign in on his players and coach to uphold the morals that the elderly leader espouses.
“I will apologise if it is proved that I made any demeaning comments about Sport-S. But when I say, I am going to beat a certain team, it is just mind games and those are used in sport world over,” Okapis said.
It is hard to tell how this will end but Sport-S insist their decision to opt out of Game Three is final.