The tumultuous build-up to the kick off of the newly introduced FUFA Drum tournament is finally behind us.
The efforts by current FUFA President Moses Magogo to get fans into the stadia after a series of dwindling attendances saw the federation boss introduce the FUFA Drum. It truly paid off on the weekend.
The first round of the games was held on eight different venues and attracted an impressive crowd attendance. The tournament is open to players hailing from a particular region with a catchphrase of celebrating ancestry.
According to a West Nile journalist Sharon Adong, who watched the game between Karamoja and West Nile in Moroto, the local folk, who are prominent for cattle rustling and their nomadic lifestyle, paid to watch a football game for the first time.
“It was a sight to behold as people snaked around the entrance to catch a glimpse of the action,” Adong said.
The joy of earning a 1-1 draw against the powerhouse of Uganda’s football was joy unrivalled too. Majid Ayop was the hero of the home side and his name will be remembered for a long time.
Karamoja is always offered a wildcard to the annual Copa Coca-Cola Schools Cup but they hardly present a school at a tournament where everything else is catered for.
Opening on Saturday was the match between Busoga and Bugishu which saw the former triumph 3-0. They were making a statement as the best football region in Uganda. The region has continued to contribute the highest number of players to the national teams recently.
The crowd at Bugembe stadium was unusual compared to the league games and such attendances are witnessed on special ceremonies when the Kyabazinga of Busoga is in attendance.
The presence of the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga was a huge milestone for football too as politicians only appear when the Cranes is playing at Namboole or during the political season.
The goals too rained compared to the national league that experiences a serious drought.
A total of 24 goals were scored on the opening weekend with Teso putting eight past Sebei.
Despite the row over proven players, untested players were also on display.
Actually Villa president Ben Misagga has vowed to recruit the best 18 players from the tournament.
“I want players from Drum tournament who have not yet been poisoned by Kampala or urban excitement,” Misagga said.
Of course the challenges and fears still abound. There’s talk in Buganda that the tournament is a direct competitor to the Masaza Cup and that is not about to go away. Coincidentally, Buganda lost 1-0 to Kigezi.
Top flight teams are also concerned with the timing of the tournament which kicked off in the business end of the season. This actually prompted Vipers to threaten stopping their players from attending the tournament before they were beaten into compromise.
But there were concerns especially in Ankole where about eight members of the final team were reportedly Banyankore. Fans were unhappy with the inclusion of players from other regions like Denis Otim, Muhammad Ssekeba, Zaidi Byekwaso, Lameck Ebong, Ibrahim Ssembatya and Safdat Nsubuga ahead of those born in Mbarara.
Results: Busoga 3-0 Bugishu, Teso 8-0 Sebei, Karamoja 1-1 West Nile, Bunyoro 2-2 Rwenzori, Acholi 2-0 Lango, Ankole 2-1 Tooro, Buganda 0-1 Kigezi, Bukedi 0-1 Kampala