After weeks of anxiety, visa application unease and filling piles of documents, the seven-man Cipla Quality Chemical Industries football team finally boarded their first ever plane – the Emirates – last evening.
And what a way to board their first from Entebbe, via Dubai to Manchester – careful here – before finally connecting by bus to Liverpool to watch the Premier League match between Jurgen Klopp’s men and Watford at Anfield on Sunday!
That is the grand prize Cipla earned after edging Bukedde 1-0 to lift the 2016 corporate Standard Chartered Cup trophy.
Standard Chartered, Liverpool shirt sponsors, are facilitating the trip.
The first edition, won by Roofings Limited, saw the Ugandans’ Liverpool dream ended in Nairobi last year.
But the bank changed the strategy this time to allow the winners in Uganda to go direct to Liverpool.
“Our role is to continue facilitating our clients to win,” said Herman Kasekende, Standard Chartered Bank’s CEO, “When they win, we win together.”
Kasekende was speaking at the team’s flag-off at Cipla headquarters in Luzira on Wednesday afternoon.
“This is also one way to appreciate what is good about Uganda, to celebrate Cipla Quality Chemical Industries as the only plant in Africa to manufacture Antiretroviral (ARVs) drugs.”
Cipla CEO Nevin Bradford, who also hails from Liverpool, assured his team and the entire travelling contingent of quality time in the UK.
“Liverpool people are very friendly,” he said, “And welcoming. I’m sure you will enjoy yourselves.”
Ismail Kirabira, captain of the Cipla team, believes it was “all about hard work and discipline” that they made it. “We know we shall learn more in Liverpool,” he said.
Among other things during the four-day trip, the Ugandans – who will also be hosted in the UK by the British High Commissioner to Uganda and self-confessed Liverpool fan, Alison Blackburne, will tour Anfield, the academy and dine with the club legends.
In every sense, it will be living the dream of any fan of the game.