For Red Eagles faithful, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi is a godsend. Out of the blue, she has turned the ‘Mukwano Gwa Bangi’ into a box-office hit of untold proportions giving the club the column inches they are enjoying in the dailies today.
All of a sudden, Express are competing with the big boys – a club where they rightly belong. Except that the competition thus far is off the pitch.
At the end of the day, the success of the club will be measured on the pitch. For all the good hundreds of millions of shillings raised in pledges and wonderful strides taken in growing a beautiful brand that had hitherto been dormant, Express’ most important accomplishments will be on the field.
Many times in Ugandan football, we have tended to either disregard or forget that perhaps the most important unit of the game is, with due respect to the other facets, the player.
Players win or lose your games, players inspire or disappoint fans, players attract or repel sponsors. It is a constant everywhere in the world.
Now, I do not know the precise details of how the new Express management plan to pursue their goals of becoming the best soccer club in the country.
Only madam Nakiwala - Minister of State for Youth and Children - and probably chief executive officer Ram Abubaker Hadji know how they will execute their plan.
It is in order to commend her for lifting Express to what they are now given that she is barely a month in charge. She has attracted the club’s fans from all walks of life and is continuing in her quest to raise as much money as she can to make the team formidable again.
But no doubt her minders would do well to tell her to prioritise the playing staff and technical team. Because in the end they are the ones who will make the club win or lose. It has not been uncommon to hear stories of Express players going for months without pay. Yet despite belated payments they still ably competed against better facilitated sides like Vipers and KCCA.
Someone ought to impress it upon Nakiwala that the team holds the key to her dreams of Express becoming the model side of the country. It is something KCCA have grasped well, and Express must borrow a leaf.
Secondly, it is only natural that very soon the excitement filtering through from Wankulukuku will diminish.
The Ugandan way of doing things is that once the hype sees through its course, reality sets in.
Nakiwala has promised to broaden the club’s connections in Europe, Asia and America. She went as far as explaining that she would use her portfolio as the catholic tourism head to take the club for friendly games in Italy and Spain.
It sounds too good to be true but for now let us give her the benefit of doubt.
The real hurdle for her new team is to make sure that the club live up to the hype and maintain the pre-season steam well into the season.
Should her Express succeed in implementing everything as desired, they will have performed the most un-Ugandan deed of following their strong words with action.
Beyond the fanfare of last Friday’s festivity, the club must do all it takes to ensure that their matches are attended by the kind of crowd that witnessed the Shs100m fundraiser.
The clout that comes with having Gen Henry Tumukunde, Fufa honorary president Lawrence Mulindwa, Kampala minister Betty Kamya, Fufa president Moses Magogo and musician Bobi Wine attending Express matches home and away will no doubt go a long way in restoring the glorious era of the Red Eagles. In the grander scheme of things, the ascent of Express portends well for the game.
So all neutrals must hope that the club do walk the talk, a difficult but not impossible task.
Last week FMU launched the Umospoc rally to be held in the Bunyoro-Kitara region later this month.
The rally will be latest to be taken to the country’s far flung areas by FMU under the new leadership of the dynamic Dusman Okee.
In holding events as many events in as many upcountry routes as possible, the sport’s governing body is doing tremendous service to the sport.
Motorsport statistically is perhaps the one sport whose numbers increase by the year and allowing fans in Hoima, Kabale, Fort Portal and Masindi to catch a glimpse of their favourite drivers like Jas Mangat, Ronald Ssebuguzi and Arthur Blick Jr can only stimulate countrywide excitement for the National Rally Championship (NRC).
Okee’s administration has ticked the right boxes thus far and should now plot to introduce a rally in northern Uganda seeing how every other part of the country has now held an event.
For so long he lived in the shadown of his older brother Ivan. It also did not help that he was in a Power team that utilised him marginally.
Today it is safe to say City Oilers guard Jimmy Enabu is the best Ugandan basketballer in the league.
His deep three-pointer against Pemba Warriors exemplified the mental and physical fortitude of a player whose confidence levels soar every other day.
Together with Kami Kabange, Enabu is the reason Oilers will in all probability claim a fourth national basketball league title.