TOP
Thursday,October 22,2020 18:43 PM

Soccer-motion

By Vision Reporter

Added 31st May 2001 03:00 AM

Ugandans have an obsession for life and the things that make life interesting. The latest craze that is currently consuming the country like a wild fire is a fireball. It is the soccer craze.

Ugandans have an obsession for life and the things that make life interesting. The latest craze that is currently consuming the country like a wild fire is a fireball. It is the soccer craze.

By Joseph Batte Ugandans have an obsession for life and the things that make life interesting. The latest craze that is currently consuming the country like a wild fire is a fireball. It is the soccer craze. Excuse me, I do not mean the dwindling, tear-jerking standards of our local soccer. One has to remember how Julius Berger reminded our SC Villa recently that they are nothing but a bunch of young amateurs. I am actually referring to the obsession for European soccer. The enthusiasm and passion it is generating far outstrips the love for any local sport, booze and believe me, even women. On the streets, fans are seen arguing with serious passion about the merits and demerits of their respective European teams, as if they spend half their time attending matches and training sessions in Europe. They can confidently reel off names of the entire Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, and Arsenal, Manchester United squads than the players who make up KCC, Express or Horizon. They even know how much their European idols earn, the girlfriends they date and even the food they eat! Some of them wear their idols on T-shirts. Weird ones like Aldrine Nsubuga live, eat and sleep Liverpool. In his house, his living room is plastered with posters of Liverpool players. I pity his wife. Please do not, she is now a football fanatic as well. His bedcover, towels, key holders, spoons, plates, jackets, caps are all Liverpool merchandise. Even his two children were born to be Reds. Not only does he dress them in Liverpool colours, he even christened his daughter Anfield, Liverpool's home ground. Such is the level of addiction to the European football that during a league match, Andrew Luwandagga of UTV is known to interrupt local football games with announcements of results of a European game! To cater for Ugandan fans insatiable lust for sports, two entrepreneurs set up two sports bars in Kampala, Jokers Sports Pub on Buganda Road and Just Kickin Bar at Kisementi, Kamwokya. Visit any of these pubs during a big match and you will get a shock. The fans shade off their officialdom. Some of them don their respective club jerseys and for the next 90 minutes the operational word in these bars is, 'ROAR.' At such moments, they can be seen waving banners and pouring out emotions in torrents. An occasional swig from their beer bottles marks a pause before the roar continues. Last week's Valencia Vs Bayern Munich encounter saw men like the Norwegian Ambassador to Uganda and Mark Ssali of The Monitor with their passions engaged. They were seen baying at the top of their lungs, "Come on Valencia, come on Valencia. Teach them a lesson," frightening the life out of a visitor like me and rival fans alike. All this madness started, according to Paul Hasule, a Liverpool fan who holds an international fans' certificate, with the Football made in Germany matches which used to telecast on UTV in the 1980s. Patrick Kawooya who sponsored the Big League Soccer is also partly to blame for sparking off the European football craze in earnest. "That is when we got to know of players like John Barnes, Ian Rush. With the coming of new television stations like TV Africa, we are now able to see these matches live. As we watch these games you get a team to support," reveals Hasule. John Mukiibi says he cannot give any particular reason why he chose to support Bayern Munich of all it teams. "I have this belief that it is the best football team in the world. They play very good football," says the fan that was on the edge of tears when the German beat Valencia. "Television is a reason why European football has become very popular in Uganda," says Joseph Kabuleta, a sports scribe with The New Vision. Aldrine Nsubuga, Mango UTL Telecel Marketing Manager also doubles as the President General of Uganda Liverpool International Supporters' Club. A combination of disorganisation, falling standards and desire to be trendy are to blame. "Football in Uganda is run by lousy administrators and is spoiled by hooliganism. I went to watch a KCC-Police match recently at Nakivubo and almost cried. The flair is no longer there. You may not understand it, I'm a KCC fan but I love Liverpool more than KCC," he says. Nsubuga reveals that this European football craze has become escapist to many local fans that love football. He says that no fan in the entire world loves a loosing team. If their local club does not win they will always go and try to identify themselves with a foreign team that consistently wins its matches. "Manchester United has many supporters because Ugandans are escaping their poorly performing local teams," reasons Nsubuga. "Supporting a European team now has also become trendy. It is not only fashionable to men but women also. Women also want to be seen that they are moving with the soccer times." Nsubuga reveals that it was the Liverpool fans in Uganda who sparked the craze. Others like Arsenal and Manchester United followed later. They were advised by the Liverpool Club in England to get a minimum number of paid up fans that would be recognised internationally. "Something like that takes committed fans. We mobilised ourselves under the guidance of Liverpool and I was elected President General. Each member is required to pay £15 per year. In return Liverpool gave us an international certificate signed by the chief executive and the president of Liverpool International Fans Club. He says they are also given numbers and fan's identity card complete with one's photo. The card is valid for one year. International fans also play an important role when the team is recruiting new players before the start of the new season. Aldrine Nsubuga wife, Justine Tashobya Nsubuga, says that initially she was not a keen supporter of football. "His enthusiasm kind of rubbed off me when we met in 1991. "But I did not feel like supporting one club with him, so I went with the popular wave and chose to support Arsenal because there was a time it was the winning team," she says. Mrs. Nsubuga further reveals that her husband refers home in Ntinda as the Red Corner, or the Liverpool Shrine. "I have had to restrain him otherwise if it was possible he would have painted the whole house red. Our daughter Anfield Nsubuga actually prefers football to cartoons. She can identify a Liverpool logo." The worst part for Mrs Nsubuga is when Liverpool loses. "The entire mood in the house depends on Liverpool." That is soccer love.

Soccer-motion

Related articles

More From The Author

More From The Author