Mudoola: Pushing for more in office and on rugby pitch

Ms Charlotte Theresa Mudoola, who has managed to juggle between formal employment and rugby, and excelled at both. Photo/Isaac Kasamani

What you need to know:

  • Playing top level rugby for two decades is no child’s play, even for those doing it professionally.
  • The rigorous physical demands of the sport have simply thrown many out of the way.
  • Now add to that a full day’s office (formal) work and you will agree that Charlotte Theresa Mudoola stands a head and shoulder above many

Charlotte Theresa Mudoola is the youngest and the only girl out of four children. She studied at Namagunga Primary School, Namagunga Secondary (Ordinary Level), Vienna College (Advanced Level), and Uganda Christian University (Law). She also obtained a postgraduate Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Centre. Looking at her credentials, one can quickly see that Mudoola is a high achiever. She is a senior registration officer at Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB), an advocate of the High Court, and has played for the Uganda national team, Lady Cranes, since 2003, winning many accolades along the way.

Why rugby?
Mudoola’s interest in rugby began in 2003 when she touched a rugby ball for the first time. Fresh-faced and adventurous, she heeded to her brother, Timothy Mudoola’s incessant calls to switch from volleyball and football to rugby. And the rest, as the popular line says, is history. Luckily for her, 2003 was also the year women’s rugby was getting attention in the country. She joined Thunderbirds, the oldest and most successful women’s rugby team in Uganda. Having been a volleyballer and footballer helped. Teaming up with the likes of Helen Buteme, Winnie Atyang and Christine Kizito, among others, they blazed the trail. 

The highlight and proudest moment for them all came in 2009 when they qualified for the 7s World Cup in Dubai, the only time so far.
Mudoola credits rugby for many things including the constant travels and exposure to the world, plus being a mentor and taking on leadership roles. 

Striking a balance 
It has not come easy for her, however. From 2014 to 2018, she was working in Arua as a Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) senior registration officer and endured a routine that many would not wish for. 

As part of the Lady Cranes team preparing for various Rugby Africa tournaments across the continent, Mudoola would leave Arua on Friday night, arrive in Kampala on Saturday morning, rest for a few hours then go for training in the morning or weekend league games.  She would train again on Sunday and board the bus back to Arua at night, arrive at 6am and be in office by 8am.
Mudoola looks back and agrees that “those were the toughest years of my life but I was determined to do both and succeed.”

Thankfully, a transfer to the head office in Kampala came through in 2018.
“If it weren’t for the support system that I have at my workplace, probably, I would have fallen off. But our Registrar General (Mercy Kainobwisho) is a big advocate for talent and she has been one of the people supporting me, telling me I should not stop playing,” says Mudoola.

Mudoola’s work at URSB involves registering businesses and companies, amendments, registering legal documents, responding to legal correspondences, carrying out supervisory duties and handling any other assignments as requested by her immediate supervisor.

“As a sportsperson, you easily adjust and fill many roles. That is one of the major things that sport teaches you,” she says. She plays this out on the pitch as well where she can play as a forward and back, alongside kicking for points and territory. 
“The stereotype that a sportsperson, especially a woman, can’t have a career and actively play sports keeps pushing me to do both and succeed at both,” she stresses.

Hard work
Mudoola admits that as a team leader, hard work is part of the equation. 
“I have to put in the extra work outside team sessions because I want to lead by example. I do not want to rely on the excuse of ‘I am a senior player/I am experienced.’ I want to show that despite my experience or seniority, I have to work hard to be the best.
Even then, sometimes what she is doing is not appreciated and that makes her feel bad.

“My biggest disappointment is when we are playing against other clubs and I hear a young player saying, ‘ono mukadde...’ That baffles me because, yes, I am old, so what? Just because one is young doesn’t make her the best player and better than me. I wish they could focus on improving themselves or even learn from the senior players. I usually laugh at them because I would rather be an 80-year-old me than a 20-year-old them,” she states.
She also honestly shares some wrong decisions she has made: “Trusting the wrong people. And if I had the chance to change that now I would...but I have learnt from it and I don’t trust people easily. I apply that principle in all aspects of my life.”

Despite the challenges she has faced, there have been good times too, which include when she has won accolades. She was voted the best women’s player last year by the Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA), and also, in December of the same year, was selected to be the captain of Find Rugby Now (FRN), a United Kingdom team made up of star players from different parts of the word. She took up the honours at the World Rugby 7s Invitational tournament in the Caribbean island nation of Grenada. She has also been voted as player of the tournament, top scorer and received the golden boot in several tournaments.  Apart from that, Mudoola also feels happy when she sees the younger ones working hard at the game. 

“The good times come when I look across the pitch and see younger girls playing their hearts out. I push them and they push me back; it’s a seesaw. I am happy when I see them learning some things from me without them fearing me for who I am and what I have achieved,” she says. 

As a leader, the rugby player says she has learnt that one has to work hard to achieve success. “Earn something on merit. That has taught me to always be open to learning and not undermine anyone. It has also taught me to lead by example and not just issue instructions. Plus, the competitive side of me has contributed. I don’t like giving up easily,” she says.
Although she has worked hard to get to where she is, Mudoola does not credit only her work ethic but fellow women in the field too. 

“My teammate, friend and coach, Helen Koyokoyo Buteme has done so much for women’s rugby but also girls and not just rugby. She is tough but principled, honest and appreciates hard work. She has taught me a lot, and is still tirelessly teaching me. I also admire Flavia Oketcho and what she is doing with the Ladies National Basketball team. She is a senior player, captain and puts in her shift. She is, like Buteme and I, a firm believer in hard work and consistency. 

Family support
Mudoola praises her family members for the things they have taught her and mentions them as leaders who have taught her leadership values.
“My father taught me hard work. He never gave me anything for free. He showed me if I wanted something in life, I had to work for it, and stay humble. My mother taught me integrity and transparency. Watching my brothers Fred and Timothy be captains and doing it well, inspired me to want to be like them. Timothy has this calm demeanor about him that I have picked up because it is vital for a leader to stay calm in some situations. Fred has this serious attitude and when it’s time to work, it’s time to work. I usually do that a lot and it has helped me stay focused on what I need to achieve. 

“When asked what the country should do to get encourage women to take up leadership positions in sport, Mudoola says it has to start with the current leaders. It has to start with us. We need to push our fellow women to these leadership positions and support them. We cannot wait for the country. We need to push ourselves and support each other to these positions. Let us be intentional. Then maybe, the country will be pushed and forced to do the same for us,” she argues, adding that if the government and local sports administrators chose to invest in women’s teams the way they do men, the achievements on the women’s side would be out for all to see.

What you didn’t know about Charlotte Theresa Mudoola

Favourite sport apart from Rugby:
Volleyball and soccer were my favourite before rugby. But I enjoy watching American football too. Tried teaching myself how to skateboard (yes, I do have a skateboard but it broke). Because I love bikes I would love to try out Motocross racing.

Most favourite fitness drill:
I love anything to do with upper body drills. Anything to do with my arms especially pull-ups and bench press. Brings out the core strength. 

Foreign country you have travelled to and enjoyed the most
Hard to choose between France and Grenada. I found Paris vibrant, my kind of setting. And for Grenada, trust me, the Caribbean beaches, food and party life are unmatched. 

Most embarrassing moment on the field in a game:
Missing an «easy kick» for posts in the middle. It’s supposed to be one of the easiest kicks and every time I miss I feel so embarrassed and small for missing an easy 2/3 points. I hate it so much that I sometimes get mad at myself.

Three reasons why every woman should play a sport regularly:
Sport teaches discipline, teamwork and helps a young woman keep busy and from engaging in the wrong activity.

Playing career (2003 to date): 
Thunderbirds, Rangers, Black Panthers, Walukuba Titans, Black Pearls.

National teams: 
Uganda 7s (2005-2019)
Uganda 15s: 2003-2023