The trademark yellow jersey, blue stripes decking the right sleeve, the Startimes name and logo plastered at it’s front, fluttered gently in the breeze as KCCA FC announced Andrew Kawooya.
The fresh-faced teenager casually looked at the cameras aimed at him, totally at ease in his new surroundings as KCCA’s latest signing, in what has been an active transfer window at the Philip Omondi Stadium. Yet the calm and idyllic scene couldn’t be in more stark contrast to the tumult in the background of the transfer.
The boy labelled “Sergeant” has been commanding attention in the Uganda football scene for close to half a decade, something made more startling by the fact that he is only 17. In the latest instalment of the drama surrounding him, he is in the news after completing a move from reigning Uganda Premier League champions Vipers SC to 13-time champions, KCCA FC.
On the surface, there is nothing particularly shocking about the transfer itself. Vipers and KCCA might be perennial arch-rivals for the title, but tensions aren’t as high as you would expect. There is banter, all right, but nothing exactly vitriolic.
It is what someone would call a civilized rivalry. Evidence of this lies in the fact that players such as Muhammad Shaban, Ashraf Mugume and Tom Masiko have featured for both clubs, with no one raising an eyebrow.
But recent activities have started fueling the rivalry between the current big clubs in the Ugandan football environment and the signing of Andrew Kawooya is at the peak of things.
It is public knowledge that Vipers are accusing KCCA of stealing the player, with KCCA countering with the fact that he had no professional contract with the Venoms. Vipers contend that they had a minors’ contract with the player, consented to by the player’s father, a one Henry Kasule.
The player’s father on the other hand, who went ahead to sanction the player’s move to KCCA, claims that any agreement he might have signed with the bureaucracy at Kitende was for his son to study and play at St.Mary’s SS Kitende, and not for Vipers. Thus, he argues that he and his son have the right to agree to a deal with KCCA. Certainly, with this going on, a battle between the two clubs looms.
What Makes Andrew Kawooya So Special that Two Big Clubs are Fighting for Him?
The legal aspects of the move aside, what sort of player is Andrew Kawooya? Why is there so much hype about the teenager? Why are Vipers so pressed by losing him? And why did KCCA go to such lengths to secure his signature?
To describe him in a nutshell, one game in particular springs to mind. And one specific moment as well. Vipers Junior Team were already leading Police Junior Team 2-0. The young Venoms had blown away their opponents with an attacking display full of verve and exuberance.
Kawooya had already come close to getting on the score sheet on one occasion. Police survived. Not for long, though. With four minutes left on the clock till halftime, Vipers were awarded a freekick, a full thirty yards from goal.
Up stepped Kawooya, to rifle the ball into the top corner of the net. If Police had remained hopeful of mounting a spirited comeback, that was the moment that sent their flimsy hopes up in smoke. By full-time, Vipers were 5-0 victors.
Kawooya was a menace all through, his range of passing was on show all game. His vision and elegance on the ball gave leeway to the likes of Najib Iga and Muhammad Senogga to run riot. The young star had only scored once, but his efforts as a facilitator, which is essentially his role on the pitch, deserved an A-plus grade.
Kawooya does not stop at providing the creative impetus. He is also a leader, something proved by the fact that prior to his controversial exit, he had been one of the Vipers’ Junior Team vice-captains. He has already featured for the national team, playing at the 2019 Under-17 African Cup of Nations, and scoring in Uganda’s 3-0 win over Angola.
Kawooya is an attacking midfielder with great technical ability, which enables him to unselfishly create for his teammates an aspect that Mike Mutebi would cherish at KCCA FC. He still offers a goal threat, while possessing a natural charisma to provide leadership.
He might still be only a boy, but he is nearly a complete package already. It remains to be seen how FUFA arbitrates the case, but one thing for sure is that Andrew Kawooya is worth the war.
Author: Timothy Ainebyoona
Timothy is a dynamic analyst passionate about news and all things sport.