A six-year-old Joseph ‘Ojoo’ Oyet walked into Kyadondo Rugby Club for the first time in 2004 without any rugby knowledge. He is now influencing lives with the help of the game 16 years later. His curiosity led him there after hearing about the game from his peers in Naguru go-down, where he spent his childhood. Like many Naguru born and bred, life is never rosy but a class of hardships with sport as the viable way out of that dark place. Sports facilities like Legends and Kyadondo Rugby Clubs, Lugogo Cricket Oval and the MTN Omondi Stadium are a walk away from the slum, becoming havens for the underprivileged children.
“I played tennis and cricket before following my friends to Kyadondo one evening. Playing sports is all I could do back then,” says Oyet, a league champion with Hima Heathens. It’s no surprise that he also turns out for the Ceylon Lions in the cricket league as cricket was his first cut.
The fullback progressed through the ranks at Kyadondo with Stallions, Buffaloes, Heathens and a stint at Legends with Warriors including a memorable Rugby Cranes cap against the French Army last year.
For Oyet, sport has kept him in line and away from crime, a way of life many destitute kids end up taking.His background and the Covid-19 pandemic forced lockdown has some how blessed his new home, Acholi Quarters, with its own rugby academy.
“There were many idle children because school had been called off. I talked to my cousin Sadam Geoffrey and we decided to start coaching ,” recalls Oyet whose team has grown with Trevor Ochan Faustino and Akena Francis coming onboard to facilitate the different age groups namely U-9, U-15 and U-19.
About 50 kids showed up on day one in late March, the Acholi Quarters Rugby Academy numbers have almost doubled .Thanks to well wishers like former Heathen David Matsuks , Roger Bongo and Irish lady rugger Clare Cunningham, the project has been boasted with jerseys, balls and finances but more remains to be done. “ Matsuks and Cunningham all saw our work on social media and asked how they could help, what was one ball turned into ten. “ Oyet told Daily Monitor.
The academy boys and girls are yielding from seeds sowed by Kyadondo coaches Peter Okol and Tolbert Onyango who first tutored Oyet. Looking up to former Heathens full-back Benon Kiiza from day one pushed Oyet to get where he stands today. He is already a cult hero among the kids he has introduced to the odd shaped ball. They should be able to complete the cycle by succeeding, staying away from crime and inspiring the next generation like Oyet has done. “ Hopefully we can have the next big name player come from this establishment. It would be a big win for us, the community and local rugby at large. I am also a product of something like this,” added Oyet.
At a glance
Full Names: Joseph Oyet
Nicknames: Ojoo, Kingsilver
Club: Hima Heathens
Former Clubs: Tigers, Stallions, Buffaloes, Warriors
Hobbies: Cricket, fashion, watching sports
Titles: 2014 U-19 Safari 7s Winner, 2015 U-19 tier B African
Winner and 2019/2020 League Champion.