And that’s when the power went

The presentation ceremony for the 32nd Council of East and Central African Football Associations (Cecafa) Senior Challenge Trophy was chaotic. Under the glow of the Nelson Mandela International Stadium floodlights, a host of East African football dignitaries, Ugandan politicians and officials squeezed onto a makeshift platform by the side of the Kampala pitch. The players filed past and reached up to collect their medals. A giant orange cheque, awarding the winning team $30,000, was handed over to the president of the Ugandan FA. Then Nicholas Musonye, the secretary general of Cecafa, fished around in his inside pocket and pulled out a white envelope filled with $30,000 in $100 bills. The president stuffed it in his pocket.

The last man, Uganda captain Andrew Mwesigwa, took his medal and reached for the trophy. A Ugandan politician got there first and insisted on lifting it with him. The crowd cheered, the officials beamed, and the winning players – who had been ushered behind the platform after receiving their medals – tried to peer over the heads of the officials to see their trophy.

After a moment, the players managed to squeeze their way through the officials and Mwesigwa lifted the trophy again. The cheers were louder. Vincent Kayizi, Uganda’s pacy right-winger, took the trophy, a gaudy, golden cup with red and white ribbons hanging off its ears, and led the team in a sprint across the pitch to the other side of the concrete bowl, where hardcore fans had spent the match singing and dancing. Some had already found their way onto the pitch and gave chase.

Leading the charge was Kamodo, a burly and surly man in a bright yellow replica Uganda shirt, who had spent most of the match at the front of the main stand with his back to the football, blowing his yellow horn and urging everyone to stand up, sing and dance. Running in Kamodo’s wake were a rag-tag group of boys, a man with a drum, and a dog.

A moment later, the crowd of fans and players ran back the other way. This time, Kamodo, the boys, the drummer and the dog were in the lead, Kamodo holding the trophy above his head. Behind him, a bewildered-looking Ugandan team gave chase. Mwesigwa eventually persuaded Kamodo to part with the trophy. The team gathered for a group photo. And that’s when the power went. The stadium, perhaps still a quarter full, was plunged into darkness.

From my piece in February’s Observer Sport Monthly. The rest, including tales of corrupt officials, an irate Scot and a London bouncer who plays at centre-half for Somalia, is here and here.


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