Kampala, being the capital city of Uganda and the centre of business in the country, attracts citizens from all walks of life. It is very common to meet someone you may have last seen in your S.4 days back then on these dusty Kampala streets.
One of the efforts that old students have come up with to locate and interact with their old boys and girls is the Sunday Football arrangement. Every Sunday, students that went to the same schools gather across football fields in Kampala and play football for fun and interactions.
Because some of you may be out there without a trace of your former colleagues, we decided to start profiling for you some of the old students’ leagues that are organised in Kampala. We shall begin with the pioneers.
Ntare Lions League (NLL)
Boosting that they’re the premier old student’s league in the country, Ntare School old boys deserve all the credit that comes with this initiative. The gentlemen from Mbarara’s very best and one of the country’s top schools have so far run 11 seasons and grown from 1 to 18 teams now.
Their story is not particularly as smooth as we anticipated it and it gets funny along the way. It took just a few members from the pioneer team Kashoro FC that were dedicated to Sunday football, to have this project rolling.
“We had always been playing Sunday football. There was a Sunday League along the Lugogo bypass, just after Panamera Bar where we used to camp every Sunday. There were so many teams and some even had professional footballers. The teams were from across all walks of life.” Isaac Muboine, the Captain of Kashoro FC told our reporters.
The group started as a team in that league but they could not match the athletic capabilities of the other competitors. Their team started as Ntare and soon changed to Chrichton FC. William Chrichton is the Scottish Educationist who founded Ntare School in 1956.
“We started as Ntare. We conceded so many goals that we reached a point and said, no. Enough was enough and we couldn’t keep embarassing our school name like that. So we rebranded to Chrichton FC, but did that stop the goals from coming in? Your guess is as good as mine.” Muboine narrated amid hearty laughter.
What bothered some members of the team was that some of their colleagues from Ntare had joined other teams and were seriously engaged in embarrassing them each Sunday. “One time, Edmundo Ataremwa, our very own scored against us while playing for Accumulators. We evicted him from our WhatsApp group immediately. How could he?” Muboine continued.
After consistent losses, the group sought to find people that they can match play abilities with. People that would work like them during the week, and play on Sunday to maintain fitness. Not professional footballers who were having soccer for breakfast, lunch and supper. And that is when the idea of the Old Boys’ League struck them.
Quickly, they hatched the idea of an exclusive Old Boys’ League that they’d use to interact with their former school mates and network with them for better opportunities while having fun. That is when they hatched the Ntare Lions League (NLL) that was only for old boys of Ntare School, Mbarara.
The first season of the league had only four teams, all of which are still in the league. Kashoro, Kafubz, Kajogo and Mugudu. They were all named after significant features at Ntare School or just slang. Kashoro is the canteen, Kafubz meant porn, Kajogo is the slum near the school and Mugudu meant the long baked cake that is more commonly known as lindazi.
That season, Kashoro emerged champions after defeating Kajogo and lifted the first ever NLL trophy. Records and statistics are still within their league circles. They were playing from MUBS ICT.
After that season, the organisers didn’t look back. They motivated more teams to join and hinged them on their classes. Consequently, every team in the league had and has to be from a specific year. Kashoro, for instance, are the class of 2005.
They have since rotated around over 4 venues all in pursuit of a connection time. MUBS, Kyambogo, Kyadondo, Phillip Omondi Stadium (KCCA), GEMS Cambridge Butabika, and the most recent venue, King’s Park Arena in Bweyogerere.
Currently within their 11th season, they marked their tenth season with a landmark. All 18 teams pitched camp in Mbarara for a weekend and they played their league final in full view of the younger generation of students currently at the school and staff.
“I think the league final at Ntare School was one of the biggest milestones we’ll ever achieve as a league. We used the opportunity to donate sports equipment to the school and motivated the current students to read hard and excel to be able to attain some of life’s pleasures like hanging out with fellow old boys’ every Sunday.” Davis Karashani, the current League president and former National Cricket team captain said.
At the start of season 10, the league unanimously decided to admit a team of girls from their sister school Bweranyangi Girls’ SS in Bushenyi in memory of their life long Bwera-Ntare solidarity. The team that was named Bweras FC, has a friendly match with each team in the league at least once in each season.
“The purity in the joy the Ntare League experience brings is beyond measure. We continue to grow as we endlessly thank all participants especially Bweras FC. Sunday is my official best day of the week.” Karashani recently tweeted.
The participant teams at the moment are Kashoro, Kajogo, Kafubz, Mugudu, Kabali, Nshera, Machando, Kisyanga, Abazibu, Omujuma, Abashweki, Bonshe, Ebicuncu, Kalele, Jabulani, Kachanchali, Shimba and Bweras. Besides the girls’ team that is named after Bweranyangi Girls’ SS, the other teams are named after Ntare slang, significant features at the school or former teachers’ nicknames.
Partnerships and Corporate Engagements
Having successfully run the league for 10 seasons, the league had been secretly catching the attention of corporate companies and organisations some of whom finally came out. As such, the league is currently partnering with among others Jumia Uganda (an online retail store), Uganda Breweries Limited (particularly Guinness), Peakshots Photography, NXT Radio and Kahwa2Go (a fast foods restaurant).
Even at individual team level, teams have started entering constructive partnerships with brands in the country that take shape in form of shirt sponsorships and deals.
Season 10 champions Nshera FC are in partnership with Freeman Movers (a transport company offering relocation services to individuals and companies), Kashoro FC have Jumia Party, and SC Shimba have Haiba Events. Season 7 champions Kabali have NewRich, Omujuma have Campus Bee while Bweras FC have Jumia among others.
Because of the longevity and the magnitude of the league, teams are faced with commitments of ensuring that their team image reflects the status of the league. Some have gone ahead to even facilitate members among them to maintain dedicated team social media channels that they use to stream out team information and news.
Challenges and Future Plans
Like any other successful entity, there is bound to be ups and downs. For the Ntare League however, the biggest challenge has been a home ground. Because of the league consistency, they have had challenges having a ready football pitch that can host them non-stop without interference from other activities on the pitches.
“We rent out grounds. All these grounds already have dedicated users and we only secure Sundays. It is therefore hard to avoid season interruptions and consequently, a season that is supposed to last 19 game weeks stretches to 24 or 25 which is never according to our plans.” Steven Nuwagira, the League Facilities Manager said in an interview.
They shared Kyadondo Rugby Club with rugby activities, GEMS Cambridge with school going students and currently King’s Park Arena with top flight rugby outfit Pirates and other rugby activities.
Asked about what the league is doing to lessen that challenge, Nuwagira said the organizers are not seated. He said the plan to secure their own football grounds has been discussed in all recent league meetings and that there is so far progress as regards the subject.
Milestones and Achievements
On top of being the premier source of their old boys’ networking attempts, the league has inspired all other old students’ leagues across the country. Now more than ever, old students are getting together in a consistent recreation activity while weighing progress at work and discussing opportunities to make their lives better.
“Our younger old boys have secured internships and graduate training programs with the help of their senior colleagues. They have interacted with the senior old boys about life challenges and how to go about business start ups or job applications. Such conversations can never leave you the same.” Nuwagira said.
Last season, the league unveiled city lawyer and Managing Partner of Kampala Associated Advocates (KAA) Joseph Matsiko as the league patron. He is tasked with guiding the league operations and cutting a more senior outlook of things in the way that the league execute their aims.
Under his guardianship, the league secured registration from the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) and gazetted their logo among others. They were also able to open a league bank account in Stanbic Bank and placed the President, League Secretary and Treasurer as signatories to better control their cash flows and ensure accountability.
The league also acquired a website (ntareleague.com)
About Ntare School, Mbarara
Ntare School was founded in 1956 as one of the first three government founded schools in the country. It was established in Mbarara, western Uganda by a former Sudan Education Commissioner William Chrichton. The other two were Teso College Aloet in Eastern Uganda and Sir Samuel Baker College in the North.
Ntare was founded on a complete non-sectarian ground which is what makes it unique even up to now. Catholics, Anglicans, Muslims, Pentecostals and even non-believers stay in the school without any trying to indoctrinate the other. There is a Church that is shared by all Christianity leaning sections and a Mosque for the Muslims, all within the school.
It is said that the prosperity of these three schools is what later encouraged former Prime Minister Dr. Milton Obote to try and include all the other schools that had been founded on religious grounds. That is why most of them are “government aided” now.
Ntare has a long list of old boys but the mostly renounced are the two serving presidents of Uganda and Rwanda; President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and President Paul Kagame.