These days when one watches the English Premiership – or may I call it the “Barclays Premiership League” – it brings back memories of the old glory when we used to battle it out at school level. One watching the rivalry between Arsenal, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, it leaves a bitter taste in one’s mouth! Way back during my secondary school days, there was a day when we were supposed to play a highly-rated football match between St Leo’s College and Nyakasura School. The two institutions of learning were rivals in the real sense of the word – academically, sports wise, socially. The rivalry was always simmering and at times it would manifest itself in one form or the other.
On this occasion, we were preparing for the Inter School Football competitions for the western region of Uganda. The tourney started with schools in one district competing with each other and eventually, the districts would compete at regional and then national levels. In our case, we had been paired with our archival, Nyakasura. We either won or they lost! There was no other result we could settle for. Being beaten by Nyakasura School would mean that our chances of advancing to the regional level would be slim! By the way, thanks to the digital divide, schools can now watch the La Liga, English Premiership, etc. During our days, we only “watched” the World Cup from the comfort of our radio! There was virtually no free-to-air TV. Not even FM radio stations. It was strictly DSTV!
In such competitive tournaments, schools selected the most fearless students to play for the school. That would instill fear in the hearts of rival teams and force them to lose the game. We had our sports master, the one and only Mr. Ephraim Katunguru (now Rev. E. Katunguru). I was amazed to be told that he was still at St Leo’s just two years ago when I went to pay homage to my good old school. Football matches were “war” in every sense of the word. We had the team and the fighters – or may I call them “soldiers” – who were on standby in case need arose. These were sometimes called the “FFU” (Fanya Fujo Uone), meaning “Do any mischief and you will see”. Many times matches ended prematurely because of fights that usually broke out. It was common for a losing team to start a fight so that the match could be abandoned and replayed another day.