In the words of Western Uganda youth Member of Parliament, Hon. Mwine Mpaka, nothing has compacted and unified the people of Western Uganda into a solid block than the sport of football.
Either gender, different age brackets, varying political affiliations, parallel ideologies and social classes, football has done the master trick and unified everyone.
Mpaka, who is also the director at Top bet sponsored Mbarara City Football Club, one of the two top tier football teams (the other is newly promoted Nyamityobora F.C) in the Uganda Premier League boldly attests;
Hundreds of thousands in Western Uganda follow football with a keen interest and unrivalled passion. Whenever there is a football match, no question the bulky numbers are brought together because of football. They all speak one language and that is the football language.
True to Hon. Mpaka, football is a viral incurable ailment, one that is additive and brings together masses in form of entertainment and ironically, a way to kill off stress.
Notably, every time that Mbarara City Football Club hosted a home duel at their Kakyeka fortress, the swelling numbers that thronged the facility to catch the game was amazing.
“Previously, we had no premier league team playing in Western Uganda. When Mbarara City FC was promoted, I was so happy. I did not miss of the 15 home matches along with my son and wife. Now, we have a second club here (Nyamityobora), it will be great for our region” Bobson Niwamanya, who treks 50 KM from Rweshamire in Ntungamo to Mbarara to watch his favourite club in action reveals to Kawowo Sports.
Add to the factor that Nyamityobora FC is the second premier side from Western Uganda that will also play in the 2018/19 UPL league, spectators will be spoilt for choice.
“We are blessed that now we have two clubs in the highest level of the Ugandan league. There will be lots of matches than before. We are really blessed” Esther Ndahagire, a student at Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) acknowledges.
Ndahagire, a keen football lover also asserts that the domestic rivalry between the two clubs is good for the sport.
“World over, we have rivalries and competition which is healthy. In a way, it helps our game grow for the better” she adds.
As the various clubs are busy with the pre-season preparations, Mbarara City FC in particular has embarked on a special tour of all the Western Uganda districts to take the team closer to the people.
“We have been able to win over new converts for the club in the other Western Uganda districts. The club was received wholesomely and this is a great trend for us” Mbarara City PRO, Edgar Abaasa contends.
To this particular cause, the club was embraced with open hands in Ibanda and most recently Rushere.
They traversed the areas of Ntungamo, Bushenyi, Rukungiri and other parts of Mbarara.
Long gone are the days of Biharirwe, Mbarara United, Horizon FC that previously played top flight football from the Western region.
The Western Uganda zone will keenly await the explosive derby affair between Mbarara City and Nyamityobora where egos and long term rivalries will be settled.
“The two matches that I will not miss in this upcoming 2018/19 Uganda Premier League season will be the games when Mbarara City host Nyamitybora and vice versa. These shall be vital and must watch matches for many of us” Deo Mukama, a self-confessed football addict says.
By and large, football development in Western Uganda has come forth with its opportunities as employment to technical personnel (Technical directors, coaches), administrators, players, other professionals as doctors, support staff and the causal labourers.
In the same vein, football has proved beyond reasonable doubt that it is an efficient and effective tool of mass mobilization of people as a tool and bench mark for community policing, fostering unity as well as easy out-reach where politicians as Hon. Mwine can easily convey and drive their message home.
Besides, there is that immeasurable entertainment provided by football that world over makes many very happy, others have sleep-less nights, some shiver whereas a fraction shed tears of joy and agony with an overwhelming victory or bitter defeat respectively.
All that, is the power manifested by the beautiful game where Western Uganda, like the rest of the world has had its own share and rich tale to boldly tell aloud.
Viva Football, Viva Western Uganda, Viva Mbarara