If you walked down the streets of Kampala and asked how many people know about Formula One, I’m quite sure that you would find that 1 out of 50 people know what Formula One is. Now of that 1, I don’t know how many know where around Kampala or Uganda they can go and watch the races with huge crowds.
I was one of those people that actually didn’t have a place that I would go to watch races and so quite often I found myself having to disrupt football fans if there weren’t any big games or streaming it. I’m guessing many of you know the frustration of streaming any games with Uganda’s internet.
So last year, I discovered Najjera Gardens as I was going out on a Thursday night with an awesome friend. The place is quite a versatile place, washing bay, a huge garden for events, restaurant and well, the bar.
The Gardens is always hosting interesting events, for example, the East African Meat festival that happens every last Saturday of the month, silent disco, quiz night, rock night among many others.
The real joy came when I visited the Gardens on a Saturday to watch premier league and found these guys not bothered with football at all but rather screaming as drivers went on with their laps during the qualifying race. Mark you, in formula one, we don’t have qualifiers, we have qualifying race, hope I have made sense hehe.
So on Sunday, I figured I would just pass by to see if the race would be on and to my surprise, the race was on with commentary as well and I kid you not, I wanted to dance but oh well, my pride slapped my mind and told me to sit down and enjoy the moment.
Speaking to the Chief Whip of the club Winnie J, she said “Personally I was looking for a place where men wouldn’t look down on me as a lady who loves the thrill/adrenaline of watching fast cars”
“It’s usually very hard for women to be welcomed into a society where there is a sport that is predominantly a men’s sport. However, at the Gardens Najjera, I was welcomed by the boys and they made me feel at home. They take my ideas seriously and share with me like an equal.” She also added
Just like me, Winnie just took a gamble on Sunday to visit the Gardens as she was looking for a place to watch the race and she was amazed to find that F1 was given priority even ahead of football and that there was commentary.
The races that followed, I knew I had a home and one day, an interesting lawyer by the name of Bernard who I was always seated next to during the races asks me if I belonged to any Formula One club and I was literally bewildered by that question cause I only knew of a one club that is in Bugolobi but that was always miles away from me. Once I said no, he pitched to me about joining the club.
I did eventually join the club this year and I will say this, The Najjera Gardens Formula One club is a community a fun-filled community. Najjera Gardens F1 Club has a well organised and streamlined system. The club also has a membership fee which entitles one to certain benefits like discounts to drinks, events attendances, and of course the live streams.
The club was also recognized during the launch of the City Tyres campaign that usually sees people get a chance to win tickets to go and watch the Dubai Grand Prix in November.
Formula One is a lifestyle sport and the members of the club have done so much to ensure that it lives up to the billing. On a race day, once in a month or twice depending, the club will have a roast during the race and people will buy well-roasted chicken, goat’s meat or pork and it will all be fun.
Personally, when I know that there is a roast that will be happening, I will starve myself all day so that I can enjoy my Pepsi with the incredible meat.
But here is the real kicker, during the race, Mercedes, Mclaren, Ferrari, Red Bull fans will be trolling each other and you can feel that the atmosphere is just the right place for someone who actually loves the sport. I saw a Facebook post that someone had made about Formula One fans at the Gardens screaming and jumping during the race and he called it unruly and characteristic of football fans.
To say I was disappointed by his comments would be a waste of my data and OTT. Formula One is a sport and people all over the world shout, scream and jump when overtakes happen, crashes happen and when Ferrari makes a mistake in the pit like they always do.
At Najjera Gardens, even after the race, guys stick around and have a conversation, a drink or two despite it being a Sunday. Connections are also ripe in the community. It’s more than just a mere sports club, it’s a family.
An hour to the race, you will always find people watching the race build up as they catch up on what has been happening through the week among other things.
Anyway, I was typing this, I was busy preparing myself to go watch the race on Sunday, my useless team Ferrari just won’t stop with messing up but oh well, it’s a sport and Moses loves him some adrenaline rush.
Yesterday my boda ride back home did some Ferrari kind of stuff. The man literally was overtaking everyone and the moment we got to corners, he was being overtaken. It was at that moment that I remembered what awaits me on Sunday and so I’m preparing for the trolls.
And this season, the Mercedes team led by Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton have been nothing but a nightmare to me and the Ferrari fans. As if that wasn’t enough, even Max Verstappen has joined the wagon of frustrating Ferrari. Someone pass me some Chinese tea.
Author: Moses Echodu
Moses is a freelance writer for Newslibre and Programs Manager at the Craft Silicon Foundation. He loves writing about sports, politics and news around the globe and Inspiring new young people!!