The side that lost won a title for Kawempe in 2018

Kawempe Muslim players celebrate their 2018 league victory at Lugogo. PHOTOS/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

Akiror has been joined in the USA by Sharon Nadunga, who played various roles for Kawempe before she became an out and out striker in the 2021/22 season then left at the end of it for UCU, which she also left last year for USA.

Kawempe Muslim’s current squad have a huge task at hand to deliver the Fufa Women Super League (FWSL).

Firstly, according to their ever present assistant coach Moses Nkata, it is because they put themselves in the situation where they can win the league by leading for most of the season.

Secondly, because, they have an opportunity to do it in front of their fans at the secondary school, for the first time ever. And thirdly, because, they have not won the title for five seasons – since the 2017/18 season.

Interestingly, they face a Kampala Queens (KQ) side that beat them in the playoffs en route to winning that title at the expense of Olila High School in the final held at MTN Omondi Stadium, Lugogo.

However, it is a much improved KQ, which won the Fufa Women Super League (FWSL) title last year and also took part in the Caf Women Champions League zonal (Cecafa) qualifiers last August.


In this year’s KQ side are two players that started for Kawempe in the 2018 final; Anitah Namata and Asia Nakibuuka.

Kawempe Muslim's Juliet Nalukenge. 

Namata started on the right of a front three that included central striker Juliet Nalukenge and left winger – now turned defender Nakibuuka.

Namata left Kawempe immediately after and joined Uganda Martyrs High School (UMHS), then joined She Corporate for the 2022 Caf Women’s Champions League qualifiers for Cecafa region.

She immediately after left She Corporate for Vihiga Queens and joined KQ in the January 2024 mid-season transfer window.

Nakibuuka, on the other hand, stayed at Kawempe but turned into a defender (more on this later) until the 2022 season. She then joined KQ, where she won the league again last season. In that KQ team were Margaret Kunihira and Shamirah Nalugya, who did not have a chance to win titles with Kawempe plus Hasifah Nassuna, who won three titles with Kawempe.          

Nalukenge left Kawempe ahead of the 2021/22 season for Cyprus’ Apollon Ladies.


Both midfield enforcers Aisha Nantongo and Tracy Jones Akiror left Kawempe straight for the plane. Akiror left immediately after the 2017/18 season to study at Lindsey Wilson College and also represents Ann Arbor – a football side in Michigan, USA.

Kawempe Muslim players Tracy Jones Akiror (L) and Grace Aluka during the final game against Kampala Queens in 2018. 

Akiror has been joined in the USA by Sharon Nadunga, who played various roles for Kawempe before she became an out and out striker in the 2021/22 season then left at the end of it for UCU, which she also left last year for USA.

Nantongo left at the end of the 2022/23 season for Danish side Aalborg BK. Sharon Apon, who played in midfield with them, has also trekked through clubs but won the league with Uganda Christian University (UCU) Lady Cardinals the next season with former Kawempe teammates Nassuna and Yudaya Nakayenze, who returned to Kawempe this season after a scholarship in the USA.

Apon did the same at She Corporate in the 2021/22 season with former Kawempe teammates Stella Musibika and Favour Nambatya, who first went to Muteesa I Royal University before She Corporate.

Musibika, like Nambatya, was on the periphery at the time and usually played as a striker but coach Ayub Khalifah turned her into a defender in 2020 because of her ability on the ball. She left for She Corporate in late 2021.


Speaking of players that have won the title elsewhere, left back Grace Aluka did so with KQ last season. She left Kawempe in 2021 for Olila High School, where she turned into a striker before leaving last year for KQ.

Aluka’s departure is one of the reasons that Nakibuuka was converted into a defender. Such is Kawempe’s influence on women’s football that all other teams that have won the league, bar Lady Doves, have had at least three players that passed through Kawempe.

Right back Florence Nazizi is another one that left Kawempe for another side at a time when her stock was rising. She left in 2022 for Lady Doves – although she was losing her place to the more productive Samalie Nakacwa.

Sadly, their robust defender Rehemah Adubango died a day after the end of the next season – the one that Kawempe lost after being beaten in the semis in Lugogo by eventual champions UCU. She was electrocuted at a swimming pool during their recovery session.

But her central defence partner Mariam Nakabugo retired after the 2018/19 season. She says she is trying to come back but still has niggling knee issues.

The defence was held together by goalkeeper Juliet Adeke who conceded only three goals the entire season. She is the only one from the triumphant side that has never left Kawempe and has retained her position as custodian.


Another player on the periphery was goalkeeper Diana Ruth Natukunda, who left last season to join Asubo Ladies.

She is there with midfielder Brenda Nakayenga, who also left a few seasons ago. Milicent Aliakai also left Kawempe in 2021 after years as a bit-part midfielder.

Moreen Adroru was also used in midfield but mostly during the regular season.

The coaches

Nkata and head coach Ayub Khalifah have remained regulars on the touchline since 2015. They have seen their best players leave season after season but they have managed to mould big talents every season.

When Sandra Nabweteme left after the first two seasons in 2016, they handed leadership of the team to Nassuna.

After an extra season, Nassuna also left and the mantle was handed to Akiror, who also left after a season in team leadership.

Kawempe Muslim's Asia Nakibuuka (R) dribbles. 

In 2018/19, Nakabugo became captain but did not keep in this position for long. The armband was then handed to Nalukenge but she also moved on in 2021 allowing Nantongo, who left in 2023 take over.

This season, Phionah Nabulime has been handed the reins and the onus is on her to follow in the footsteps of other creative minds that led the club to the top of the league.

The conclusions

Some have argued that Kawempe’s struggles to retain their leaders is one of the reasons they have struggled to be successful in the recent past.

The coaches argue that they cannot sit in the way of a player that has got new opportunities to explore. But also as a school-based club, they have tried not to hold onto players that are done with secondary school; mostly because they get opportunities like university scholarships but also because they struggle to continue with training.

These days with the emergence of monied clubs like KQ, it is also easier to lose the younger players, especially if they are not focused on their education.

Furthermore, Nkata and Khalifa, have kept positive that the loss of one player opens up opportunities for new talent to emerge. If Nabweteme had stayed, maybe Nalukenge would never have had the required playing time to shine.

If Nassuna and Akiror were still around, maybe Nabulime, Agnes Nabukenya and Hadijah Nandago – who are tasked to deliver the holy grail this weekend – plus the injured Shakirah Nyinagahirwa would not have emerged.

Kawempe's Starting XI in 2018: Juliet Adeke (still there); Rehema Adubango (deceased), Mariam Nakabugo (retired), Florence Nazizi (now at Lady Doves), Grace Aluka (now in Tanzania); Sharon Apon (now at She Corporate), Tracy Jones Akiror (now in USA); Asia Nakibuuka, Anitah Namata (now at Kampala Queens), Juliet Nalukenge (now in Cyprus)

Kawempe's Probable Starting XI in 2024: Juliet Adeke; Ritah Mushimire, Shakirah Nankwanga, Samalie Nakacwa, Jolly Kobusingye; Phiona Nabulime, Krusum Namutebi, Agnes Nabukenya; Mary Kabaculezi, Hadijah Babirye, Hadijah Nandago


Team                           P          W        D         L         F          A         PTS

Kawempe Muslim       17        11        4          2          31        12        37

Kampala Queens         17        10        6          1          29        12        36

Uganda Martyrs          17        6          7          4          21        19        25

Rines SS WFC            17        6          5          6          20        27        23

She Maroons               17        6          4          6          23        20        22

Lady Doves                 17        6          4          7          24        22        22

Makerere University   17        3          11        3          18        21        20

Wakiso Hill WFC       17        5          4          8          16        23        19

UCU Lady Cardinals  17        3          5          9          12        20        14

Asubo Ladies              17        2          4          11        15        33        10

Sunday in the FWSL

Kawempe Muslim vs. Kampala Queens

UMHS vs. She Maroons, Lubaga

Lady Doves vs. Makerere, Masindi

Rines vs. Wakiso Hill, Kabaka Kyabagu

UCU Lady Cardinals vs. Asubo, Mukono

*Despite the title decider, other sides can still battle for positions

However, the final positions hardly matter in a winner takes all competition

*UCU and Asubo meet in a battle of relegated sides