INDEPENDENT UGANDA TURNS 57
As we celebrate our 57th Independence anniversary it is also important to project into the future at some of the stars that will stand out in the Uganda of tomorrow. Following are profiles of the top 10 youngsters who are following in the footsteps of legends like John Akii-Bua, Phillip Omondi, Arthur Blick, Ayub Kalule and Peace Proscovia.
Kirabo Namutebi (swimming), 14 years
She recently swam to greatness as she became the first Ugandan to win two gold medals at the Africa Junior Championship. She also won silver. Her performance surpassed 18-year-old Rebecca Ssengonzi’s feat in 2015 in Cairo of silver and bronze. She has also by far beaten heights reached by past Ugandan swimmers like Ganzi Mugula, Aya Nakitanda and Natasha Rata.
Rajab Lomutho (athletics), 15 years
The teenager is a big sprint prospect. He recently won the 100m at the East Africa Secondary Schools Games. He had earlier got bronze at the ANOCA Zone Championships.
“He has natural speed, a good running style that includes good stride frequency on top of a superb take off,” says sprints coach Paul Okello.
If well-groomed he should be able rise to heights reached by sprinters like John Akii-Bua and Davis Kamoga.
Reagan Musoke (boxing), 15 years
Uganda Boxing Federation president Moses Muhangi equates the bantamweight to legend Sugar Ray Leonard.
“He is an entertainer who also has a knockout punch, good footwork and great game reading,” says Muhangi of the boxer, who last year won silver at the Africa Boxing Confederation Youth Championships in Morocco.
He is also a national open champion. He looks to legends like Ayub Kalule, who not only won gold at the first World Amateur Championships in Cuba in 1974, but also later went on to win a world title in the professional ranks.
Tracy Naluwooza (badminton) 13 years
She showed what she has in store with an Africa Schools Championship bronze in Accra, Ghana in 2018. She has also been dominant in her age category on the local scene. “She is not only talented, but also quickly grasps new ideas and is passionate,” notes veteran coach Simon Mugabi.
She is closely following in the footsteps of Edwin Ekiring who at his prime was one of Africa’s top ranked players.
Abbas Kyeyune (football) 14 years
The Hinnan International tournament (China) silver medalist, CECAFA champion is also a multiple winner on the local scene. His CECAFA gold came with a top scorer’s boot (nine goals). This was capped with two Kyeyune goals in the final as Uganda beat Kenya 4-0. He plays for Kampala Junior Team.
“He has great speed, game reading and uses both legs. He is also disciplined and eager to learn,” says KJT Director Mansour Kabugo.
Those who have watched him play say he can emulate big names like Phillip Omondi and Farouk Miya.
Maria Nakanyike (chess), 13 years
A Woman Candidate Master. She attained the grading at the Africa Schools Individual Chess Championship in Harare in 2017 where she was runner-up. She emerged 2017 USPA female chess player of the year. She is Uganda’s best U-14 female player and is ranked ninth best woman in Africa. Harold Wanyama and Arthur Ssegwanyi are some of the players she wants to emulate.
Keisha Kagoro (golf), 10 years
Last year she finished third at the Africa Junior Golf Challenge in South Africa. She also finished 14th at the World Junior Championship in Malaysia. Besides being unbeaten in Uganda, she is also Naivasha Juniors Open champion. Her future is bright and she should be able to soar to the same heights if not surpass achievements of big names like Emmanuel Apuuli Basaliza and Sadi Onito.
Winnie Ayikoru (netball), 13years
There are all signs that the St Mary’s Kitende student will be the next big thing in Ugandan netball. She starred at the National Post Primary Ball Games Two in Soroti, as Kitende defeated St Noah in the final.
“She is a disciplined girl with a great future,” said a school official.
Those who thought that personalities like Peace Proscovia and Mary Nuba can’t be emulated are in for a big surprise.
Alon Orland (motocross) 10years
He is not yet even in his teens but he is already scaling great heights. Riding a Husqvarna bike he won the Africa 65cc title. He is also East Africa champion. He should be able to surpass achievements of legends like Arthur Blick given ever increasing exposure that motocross enjoys today.
Maria Najjuma (basketball) 15 years
She emerged as the MVP at the Africa U-16 Championships. She also became best rebounder at the East Africa Games as St Noah beat St Mary’s Kitende. She had earlier also been outstanding with a similar accolade in the National Championship where they had lost to arch rivals Kitende.
Those who closely follow the sport believe she has what it takes to emulate big names like Clair Lamunu.