Prior to his acknowledgment speech at the well decorated Victoria Hall of the Serena International Hotel winners’ podium on the Uganda Premier league awards night, Kampala Capital City Authority left back Joseph Ochaya, sighed with obvious excitement.
A deep breathe amidst silence equated to a mass grave in a desert, Ochaya, who also won the MVP award at his club, KCCA sighed;
I think I deserved it…
Ochaya was voted the best footballer of the 2015/16 Uganda Premier league, a reward that was spiced up by a brand new Subaru Forester, a glittering trophy and an Azam TV Decoder.
Fresh from a successful trial stint at Bidvest Wits University, the lanky player smiled with every word emitted at the awards night attended by the country’s first son, Major General Muhoozi Kainerugaba, FUFA President Moses Magogo, Uganda Cranes’ head coach Milutin Sredejovic, footballers, club officials, politicians, coaches, journalists and a host of other invited guests across the divide.
By 7:26 p.m, the red carpet event, screened live on Television to billions across the country and the continent started as the day’s MC’s Flavia Tumusiime and Patrick Kanyomozi walked on stage.
Chief guest Muhoozi arrived a few minutes later to a standing ovation, one that was also accorded to the league’s most serving player – Simeon Masaba.
The MC’s invited the FUFA Super league limited (FSLL) board chairperson, Arinaitwe Rugyendo for the day’s opening remarks that entailed the 11 bottlenecks and opportunities associated with Uganda’s sports particularly the beautiful game – football.
At 7:54 p.m, the first set of awards were given out by the team captain of the legendary 1978 Uganda Cranes Jimmy Kirunda who was accompanied by Sredejovic to the podium.
They gave out the best coach award (Mike Mutebi), goalkeeper’s coach award (Kenneth Magada), Best referee (Brian Miiro Nsubuga) and fair play accolade to Ivan Ssewanyana.
Next on stage was the FUFA third Vice president, Dennis Ssebuggawo Mbidde whose antidote that narrated the fond memories with the chief guest kept many alert.
Mbidde, representing the 16 top flight clubs on the FUFA Executive lauded the clubs that are following the trend towards professionalism.
He was joined by the FUFA CEO, Edgar Watson to give out the fan of the year award to KCCA’s comical supporter Ali ‘Mabeere’ Kafeero, Upcoming player gong (Halid Lwaliwa), longest serving player in the league (Simeon Masaba) and the Most exciting player on TV – SC Villa’s Martin Kizza.
Other awards that followed were given to the diligent sports journalists who sacrificed their meagre energy, financial and time resources to cover every inch of the league with passion, commitment and ultimate dedication.
Clive Kyazze, was rewarded for promoting the league on Television through the Game On show on Vision group owned Urban TV, Martin Kaddu (Radio Sapientia) took the Radio accolade, Daily Monitor’s Elvis Senono excelled in print section, John Batanudde was rewarded for photography and Ismail Kiyonga of the ever improving and fast sprouting Kawowo Sports media was rewarded for topping the On-line category.
At this stage, guests were treated to the food of the ears as the Music Diva, Winnie Nwagi of the Musawo fame entertained in the interlude.
The awards returned with KCCA’s David Tamale taking home the best CEO award and URA’s Robert Sentongo (who ended the season with 18 goals) being crowned the top scorer.
Next on stage was the Makindye West Member of Parliament, Allan Ssewanyana to present the awards the followed thereafter.
With 16 clean sheets to his name, Mathias Muwanga, formerly at Sadolin Paints but now at URA beat Vipers Ismail Watenga and KCCA’s Benjamin Ochan to the best goalkeeper award.
Veteran defender Musa Walangaira took home the best defender award as KCCA’s crafty midfielder was voted the best in the department beating Richard Wandyaka (formerly at JMC Hippos) and Ibrahim Kayiwa (formerly at Express) to the award.
Musa Esenu was the fans’ pick of the season before Moses Magogo took to the podium for a brief speech.
“I thank the organizing committee, FSL, clubs, referees, Government, officials, players and the fourth estate for the strugggle in football development” Magogo hinted as he encouraged clubs to follow the FIFA clubs pro agenda that was recently launched in Lira, Northern Uganda.
He read out the best eleven of the season, rewarded the life time achiever Hajji Abasi Kawaasi Mukasa before Major Gen. Muhoozi took to the floor.
“Football is now retaining sanity. I thank my friend Ruygendo and Magogo for the efforts. We are now celebrating tremendous talents of this country. From 1966 when we had 6 clubs to now where we have 16 clubs, it has been a positive journey moved. Keep up the good work” the first son noted.
To the applause of the guests, he later read out the MVP of the season – Joseph Ochaya, fresh from South Africa where he has been on trials with Bidvest Wits University.
“I think i deserved it.. I thank the Almighty God, i thank my family, fellow players, technical committee, supporters and even my haters. They made me work hard to disapprove them” he smiled before he was joined by his better half – Sarah Nakiweewa and their 16 months daughter, Audrey Kayla Joyce Abalo.
A photo opportunity, one key for record keeping and perfect archiving then followed before Ochaya received his car officially moments later outside Victoria Hall of the serene Serena International Hotel.
Guests joined the cocktail thereafter before each retired at leisure.
What an awards night.
2016 Uganda Premier Awards (All Winners):
Footballer of the Season (MVP): Joseph Ochaya (KCCA)
Goalkeeper of the Season: Mathias Muwanga (Sadolin Paints)
Defender of the Season: Musa Walangalira (JMC Hippos)
Midfielder of the Season: Muzamiru Mutyaba (KCCA)
Top Scorer: Robert Ssentongo (URA) – 18 goals
Coach of the Season: Mike Ray Mutebi (KCCA)
Goalkeeping coach of the Season: Kenneth Magada (Sadolin Paints)
Young Player of the Season: Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers)
Life Time Achievers Award: Hajji Abbasi Kawaasi Mukasa
Best Referee: Brian Miiro Nsubuga
Fans’ Player of the Year: Musa Esenu
Best Chief Executive Officer (CEO) – David Tamale (KCCA)
Best Player on TV: Martin Kizza (SC Villa Jogoo)
Best XI: Mathias Muwanga (Sadolin Paints), Dennis Okot Oola (KCCA), Joseph Ochaya (KCCA), Halid Lwaliwa (Vipers), Musa Walangaira (JMC Hippos), Ibrahim Kayiwa (Express), Muzamiru Mutyaba (KCCA), Richard Wandyaka (JMC Hippos), Robert Sentongo (URA), Erisa Ssekisambu (Vipers), Vincent Kayizzi Waluggembe (KCCA). Coached by Mike Ray Mutebi (KCCA)
Best Sports Journalists: [Television – Clive Kyazze (Urban TV – Game On Show) , Radio – Martin Kaddu (Radio Sapentia), Photography – John Batanudde – (Red Pepper), Print – Elvis Senono – Daily Monitor , Online – Ismail Kiyonga (Kawowo Sports Media)]