KAMPALA -Ideally, national football teams depend on strong leagues and players thereof. But the Federation of Uganda Amputee Football (Fuafa) begs to differ, slightly, as it prepares for the inaugural Confederation of Eastern and Central Africa Amputee Football (Cecaaf) tournament in June.
Lawrence Kitimbo, the head of Fuafa, who attended the convention that birthed the amputee soccer equivalent of the Cecafa Senior Challenge Cup, said Uganda has the players who can compete in this regional tournament, despite lack of funding.
Kitimbo mentioned players like striker Alex Mugerwa, goalkeepers Mario Odima of Nakawa and Sam Mubajje of Mubende Rehabilitation Centre, national captain Abel Tabule of Kawempe, and Denis Andevu of Mubende Rehabilitation Centre, who make the backbone of the national team.
“Such tournaments give us an opportunity to show bigger audiences that we can also add to the glory of our country and our players are young and determined to ‘kill’ any opponent. Akii Bua did it [by winning Uganda’s first Olympic medal], we want to redo it by winning the first amputee soccer trophy.”
So how can they balance this intricate equation, when they do not even have a formidable league running?
“Each federation member has a duty to identify capable players and convince them to join us,” Kitimbo said.
“Let’s get the players first, play the game and display what we can…you can’t claim selling pots when you can’t display them.”
Soon, Kitimbo said, they are going to engage in inclusive soccer matches in about 15 communities across the country, spread the gospel of awareness about amputee soccer.
“As more people know the sport, lobbying for funds can be easier.”
He also finds solace in the few but loyal partners like Disability Health Alliance International, who give free medical care to amputee soccer players during tournaments; Malengo Foundation, Mirian’s Nest, who offer free counselling to players and federation patron Eng. Ronald Balimwezo, a renowned politician with disability.
Kitimbo added that delegates in the December 29 convention lauded the Uganda’s as “the fastest-growing federation” even when it gets no penny from government, like its regional counterparts.
Such progress, amid dire socio-economic limitations, is what convinced them to elect him to head the Cecaaf research and development program committee.