ISF, Caf schools feted

Amus College headmaters Richard Olupoti receives the students upon return from China. PHOTO/COURTESY OF USSSA MEDIA 

What you need to know:

Amus College’s boys won ISF silver at the Games after losing 5-3 on penalties to the hosts’ China’s main side while Bukedea Comprehensive School’s boys also bagged bronze after beating the hosts’ other side 1-0 in the third place playoffs.

One good turn deserves another!

That was the feeling at Imperial Royale Hotel, Kampala on Friday as the Uganda Secondary School Sports Association (USSSA) celebrated its members for success at last month’s International Schools Federation (ISF) Football World Cup in China and the Caf Schools Championship in Nairobi.

Amus College’s boys won ISF silver at the Games after losing 5-3 on penalties to the hosts’ China’s main side while Bukedea Comprehensive School’s boys also bagged bronze after beating the hosts’ other side 1-0 in the third place playoffs.

Amus’ girls’ side also finished eighth out of 17 schools while St. Mary’s College Kisubi (Smack) were ranked 31st out of 36 boys’ schools.

“Our project has been running for 10 years and it started without stars,” Amus coach Nimrod Kintu, said.

“That allowed us to create a style of play that was also well appreciated by our opponents. Most of them believe that if we can play like that given our challenges, then we could do even far better with more support,” Kintu said.

The challenges of school sports include the poor state of the pitches, human resource and a tight time table that gives more time for classwork.

USSSA has tried to bridge the gap in human resource through capcity building programmes and sent referees to the ISF and Caf games.

For the captains of the school, the message on improving facilities was re-echoed throughout their speeches at an event that was skipped by Bukedea Comprehensive School as they had travelled back home.

“We thank the government and USSSA for the opportunities to make our schools known. We saw that we need to improve our facilities so that we keep pushing our careers,” Amus captain Toto Majobe, said.

Smack captain and defender Mark Kazaire said they tried their best “but it was not the best that came out of it. It was not up to standard but we beat India, China Taipei and Hungary out of six games and scored 21 goals. That reminded us that even in the face of adversity, the spirit of football can help one overcome.”

Amus girls’ captain Shafiga Tamisi, also a utility player with the U-17 national team Teen Cranes, said they were happy to return home with at least the top scorer’s award won by teammate Edna Wanda.

Adjust

In Zanzibar, St. Mary’s College Kisubi (Smack) stopped in the boys’ group stage while Kawempe Muslim won girls’ bronze worth $150,000 (about Shs570m) at the Caf competition.

The latter’s captain and tournament top scorer with three goals Shadia Nabirye – also a Teen Crane – said they started winning right from departure at Entebbe Airport “because most of my teammates had never been on flights. We thank USSSA for granting us these special things to grow our talents.”

The Caf competition, according to the head of delegation Hussein Lwembawo, posed its own challenges as the pitches and times were shorter unlike the U-16 USSSA championship from which Kawempe started this journey before the December zonal competition in Nairobi.

“We need to adjust our home tournament to ensure the girls get the right practice,” Lwembawo said.

USSSA president Justus Mugisha said there is a plan for them to replicate what they saw in China – a games’ village with 16 pitches, swimming pools, provisions for other sports and accommodation for over thousands.

Three pillars

“When you look at the pitches there, you think that maybe ours are not fit to host any competitions but fortunately, ours produce these winners too. But we are going to look for land to create our own centre then also push the government to create facilities in every zone,” Mugisha said.

USSSA wanted to take five representatives to the games but due to financial constraints St. Noa girls pulled out. Smack and Kawempe also preferred travelling to Zanzibar than Dalian as the former came with a chance of winning prize money.

Mugisha put Uganda’s increasing success in schools’ competition to three things; capacity building, cost sharing and starting competitions at the grassroots. Apparently only East Africa has regional schools’ games in the entire world.

“We are into mass participation because for every 1,000 students that start a game, only two become professionals. So you need a big pool to get the few at the top. That is why we have many schools in our games.

We have had the argument that we should send one school to the ISF games and sponsor it fully but if we put in and the schools also put in, we get more participants,” Mugisha explained.

School Sports

How They Finished

ISF Football World Cup

Boys

Amus College – silver

Bukedea Comprehensive – bronze

Smack – 31st out of 36

Girls

Amus College – 8th out of 17

Caf Schools Championship (U-15)

Girls

Kawempe Muslim – bronze

Boys

Smack – Group stages