Africa Cup qualification, epic triumph for schools

Systematic Growth. Kasasa has grown through the ranks starting in 2010 as a schools’ player coach to leading the men’s national team to their first Africa Cup of Nations since 2007. PHOTO / MAKHTUM MUZIRANSA

What you need to know:

  • The youthful exuberance, as Kenya found out during the FIH (International Hockey Federation) Bi-Nation Series in Nairobi last March, makes up for lack of experience all.

The average ages of the men and women squads Uganda is sending to the January 17-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Ghana are 24.4 and 22.05 respectively.

The youthful exuberance, as Kenya found out during the FIH (International Hockey Federation) Bi-Nation Series in Nairobi last March, makes up for lack of experience all.

At the Series, the current crop was able to compete better than past Ugandan teams because they knew most Kenyan players from schools’ games.

Beyond local club rivalries, where competition rotates just around three clubs; Weatherhead, Wananchi and Kampala, schools offer exposure through regional games – against Kenyan schools like St. Anthony, Musingu High, Upperhill, Narok among others.

Both coaches; Vincent Kasasa (men) and Moses Nsereko (women) shaped their coaching careers in schools - starting 2010 and 2013 respectively and it is no surprise that they lead the first national teams since 2007.

Nsereko, who was instrumental to starting a schools’ competition (KHC Festival) for his club, has always preferred training schools and Kasasa explained why.

“Schools keep players together,” he said. “So players build cohesion, learn how to handle each other and most importantly, grow with similar team values and culture,” he added. Clubs depend heavily on schools to train and keep players.

Kasasa has coached St. Mary’s College Kisubi (Smack) since 2010 as a player-coach, St. Charles Lwanga - Kasasa since 2013 and St. Mary’s College Namagunga since 2015.

Growth

The squad he started with in Kasasa had Alfred Agaba, Ashiraf Tumwesigye, Timothy Ntumba and Peter Walusansa (Solomon Mutalya would join in 2014) – who are all national team players after being part of the school’s squad that won the boys’ hockey gold at the Uganda Secondary Schools Sports Association (USSSA) in 2015 plus silver at the East Africa version in 2015 and 2017 plus bronze in 2016.

Kasasa, who was the first Ugandan to be named player of the tournament (MVP) in 2011 in the regionals, also coached Brian Bayuule at Smack from 2012. With Smack, Kasasa has won two East Africa bronze and three national gold.

Seven, including 2017 and 2018 MVP Colline Batusa, of the other 12 players went through Kakungulu – a school Ntumba and Tumwesigye later joined as its bursary scheme expanded. Jordan Mpiima went to Namilyango College, which has not been as dominant.

Kakungulu girls

Meanwhile, Nsereko won nationals with Namagunga (2012-2014). Team manager Bridget Baine was his captain in 2013 deputized by midfielder Margaret Nassiwa while Paula Kibwika, now a defender, was second goalkeeper.

In 2015, Doreen Asiimwe captained Nsereko’s City High squad to both nationals and regionals before she joined Kakungulu – a school attended until as recently as 2019, when it gold at the regionals, by eight of Nsereko’s final 18.

“Kenyans dominated us for long  but we have grown tremendously through those games and hope to show that with the national team,” Richard Kaijuka, who represented Kololo and Kakungulu, said.

2022 National TeaMS

Schools Attended

St. Charles Lwanga, Kasasa:    Alfred Agaba, Ashiraf Tumwesigye, Timothy Ntumba, Peter Walusansa, Solomon Mutalya

Kakungulu Memorial: Richard Kaijuka, Brian Okodi, Emmanuel Baguma, Colline Batusa, Martin Okello, Stewart Kavuma, Maxwell Mugisha, Ntumba, Tumwesigye; Doreen Asiimwe, Winnie Alaro, Consolate Muber, Norah Alum, Doreen Mbabazi, Teopista Anyango, Lucky Akello, Jolly Alimo St. Henry’s College Kitovu: Moses Tushabe, Vincent Kasasa (men’s coach) St. Mary’s College Kisubi: Brian Bayuule, Kasasa

Namilyango College: Jordan Mpiima

King’s College Budo: Richard Ssemwogerere; Margaret Nassiwa, Joy Serunjogi, Pauline Achom, Pauline Korukundo, Aisha Kagere, Moses Nsereko (women’s coach)    Kololo SS: Thomas Opio, Lamula Nakajjumba City High: Giramia Sylvia, Asiimwe   St. Mary’s Namagunga: Paula Kibwika, Nassiwa, Serunjogi

Kawempe Muslim: Thuwaibah Kiggundu

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