There were no accolades for Aliguma Foundation Soccer Academy (AFSA) on its first-ever outing but the positives from the heartwarming performances were a sign of great things to come for the slums-based newly-initiated project.
With Love From Italy: Aliguma Foundation Soccer Academy's Under 10 & 12 teams have a feel of Nigerian international Ola Tina's Torino FC's jersey. (Photo/AF Media)
The AFSA is just in its third month of existence and when an invite from the Joe Kigozi Academy (JKA) Junior Tournament came calling there was no holding back with the coaches eager to give the young ones a run out on the better playing surfaces.
With the foundation top hierarchy deeming it fit and necessarily justifiable to use some of the funds from their latest partner - Italy-based Nigerian international Ola Aina - to fund the academy’s latest project, the coaches and little ones were overly excited when the news trickled in that ‘slums soccer’s finest’ would be making the short trip to the City to rub shoulders with some of the best in the country at Panamera Astro-Turf Football Pitch, located in Kampala, Central Uganda.
SUMMARY OF RESULTS
Results - Under 10
Rays 4-1 Aliguma
Proline 1-1 Aliguma
Aliguma 0-2 JKA
Results - Under 14
JKA 1-0 Aliguma
Aliguma 0-2 Proline
Blessing The Blesser: CEO Ritah Aliguma (L) hands over an assortment of soccer equipment to JKA Tournament Director Joe Kigozi. (Photo/AF Media)
Youngsters light up
To put it in better perspective, Panamera is located on Saddler Way, nearby Kololo Jamia Mosque and Kololo Senior Secondary School pitch.
It is not everyday that slum kids get to mix and mingle with age mates from elite families for an entire day and this experience alone was bound to be a highlight.
From the three categories in the competition; Under 10, Under 12 and Under 14, the foundation was able to register two teams in the former and latter categories.
There was a baptism of fire of sorts in the opener for the Under 10s when they were put to the sword by Rays of Grace 4-1 in the opening fixture. But with work done by the coaching team under the leadership of L.C III Councillor of Banda Slums Area Ismail Mukoiko, the boys showed that they can learn quickly on the job as they registered an emotional 1-1 result against the much-fancied Proline that was unexpected.
Young Blood: Lubangakene (purple arrow)'s star shone brightest during the weekend long event played at Panamera Astro-Turf pitch in East Kololo, Kampala. (Photo/AF Media)
Special & luminous gems
Seven-year old Joshua Lubangakene nicknamed Nuchu was the hero with the rallying goal to secure a share of the spoils against Mujib Kasule’s franchise. The Luigi Giussani Pre Primary and Primary School pupil had also earlier scored in the 4-1 loss to Rays of Grace but it was his strike against Proline that will be etched into the history annals of the Aliguma Foundation Soccer Academy.
That strike helped AFSA share the spoils with Proline and woo a handful of scouts to the team seeking to win over some of the academy players.
Exciting young forward Tony Mulindwa, industrious midfielder James Odong and the defence pair of Joseph Oloya and Douglas Lwanga were as good as the rest of the pack and were only undone by the lack of playing on such a modern playing surface consistently.
AFSA didn’t have a team in the Under 12 age category but equally impressed in the Under 14 age category with dynamic duo of James Odongkara, Rashid Gaddafi putting their best foot forward in the midfield, goalkeeper Jonathan Nsereko showing his skills between the posts, the defence trio of Shafik Mala and Tony Ssozi and Sabiiti Nsubuga holding fort at the back with the threesome of Francis Odokonyero, Trevor Ogwang and Francis Okello proving they will be forces to reckon with as goal poachers.
Life Skills: The children take a breather at the end of play to listen to inspirational talk from the tournament's officials and invited inspirational coaches. (Photo/AF Media)
A birth of many starts
“The tournament was a good one for us to give our slum-based children a first run out amongst the other academies,” said CEO Ritah Aliguma, who is fresh from Europe and United States of America (USA) where she has done a lot of formal and behind the scenes work for the foundation.
“Our children showed that they’re talented. But now our coaches do know that they need to improve their skills. Our academy is still very young and will only grow to be better. In the slums, we play mainly on Kataka (grass-thin grounds) but this was arguably their second outing on these modern playing surfaces. We look forward to a better showing next year.”
With area councillor Ismail Mukoiko acting as the lead coach, the quartet of Lawrence Onen, Fransisco Daniel Bajole, Patrick Kyeyune and Godfrey Obita also had a good workout as young tutors learning on the job as they came face to face with stronger academies that boast of wealthy proprietors and enviable infrastructure.
Latest Fad In Town: CEO Ritah Aliguma (R) and Administrator Joan Acengo (R) are happy to show off the foundation's latest acquisition - Ola Aina's jersey - that will be auctioned in the new year to help facilitate some of the soccer activities. (Photo/AF Media)
“We put up a good challenge. We are just a few months old. But we are already determined to do better. We identified our lacking areas and will continue to hone our skills during the practice sessions so that we are prepared for next year’s event,” offered one of the coaches - Onen.
The sky is destined to be the start, indeed, for AFSA!