Name – Ortega Daniel
Height -183 cm (6 ft)
Weight – 74 kg
Position – Utility back
Current club – Kobs Rugby Club
Previous club – Impis rugby club ( 2011 December to 2017 )
Leadership positions – Impis chairman from 2015 to 2017
Daniel Ortega grew up in Nsambya before moving to Old Kampala, he grew up with a single mother along with younger brother Donald Oketayot. Daniel Ortega, commonly known as Danny, went to Aga Khan Primary School then joined rugby powerhouse St. Mary’s college Kisubi (SMACK) for his entire secondary journey. He later went to Makerere university Kampala for higher learning where he did Law.
Ortega got into rugby in Form 1 on a part time basis as he was still not really into the game, however in his senior 2, he fully committed to the sport and this was because (according to his words), “.……. football was dominated by very old guys and there was no room for small guys but they feared rugby yet it was all inclusive…”
Danny drew inspiration from Kasozi Stephen and Lubega Felix who he termed as “superstars” of the game at SMACK. He played his first rugby games for his class in form 2 as is the norm with traditional rugby playing schools that hold inter-class competitions every once in a while.
His first competitive match was against King’s College Buddo in the under-14 category where he scored one try en route to victory. Danny was then called up to the senior team in form 4 (2009), a season when SMACK won the title, he made 4 appearances.
Other high school honors
- Winning the 2010 7’s series as Assistant Captain
- 7’s Captain in 2011 when SMACK finished 2nd
- Scored 11 tries in the 15’s school’s league in the year 2011
- 41 competitive tries overall in his time at SMACK
Ortega joined Impis rugby club in December 2011 where he highlights that he played for what felt like “5 mins” in his 1st season; a game he recalls to have been against Mongers rugby club coming off the bench in the dying minutes.
The next season, Ortega featured in 4 more games and also represented the MUK (Makerere university) team in the inter-varsity games where they emerged triumphant overall. He went on to represent Makerere for 4 years.
Club rugby highlights
- He graduated to the Impis first team in 2013, scoring 5 tries in his maiden season as a starter.
- In 2014, he scored 5 tries as well in a season where he cemented his place as a regular in the senior team.
- He was the 2nd highest try scorer in 2015 with 9 tries after Heathen’s Wokorach Michael despite Impis finishing the season last.
- Despite the good show of form, he was snubbed by the national team that year and the one that followed
- 2016 saw the utility back score 7 tries that season.
- 2017 was a busy one in terms of school with LDC – featuring in only 5 games and scoring twice.
- He is currently hampered from playing in 2018 so far due to work commitments.
- Danie Ortega left Impis after 7 years with 8 Man of the match medals, 28 league tries, 11 Uganda cup tries and a plethora of 7’s tries.
Life outside rugby
“ I’m a lawyer by profession with a degree from MUK and post graduate from LDC, working in the northern region with my NGO called CECODEP, which provides legal aid to refugees, women and young girls….”
Ortega is also a part time MC, a father to one so baby sitting is one of his major activities indulged in. He loves music and is a fan of Liverpool Football club in the EPL.
How he juggles everything
“ ……. juggling the different duties is difficult since I work very far and hence getting time to train and play rugby is so difficult at the moment but when possible, I make time for personal fitness and games if selected. It’s hard to be a professional and then also play rugby in Uganda. But we love the game so we try……..”
Best rugby moment
“ Winning the 7’s Circuit for the first time ever with SMACK against Namilyango in the final.
Worst rugby moment
“ Unfair Yellow card in the high school semi finals against Hana when we were leading and they scored 2 tries……..”
Future rugby aspirations
“ To make a few National team caps by the time I retire….”
Rugby role model
Role model in life generally
Favorite rugby players; local and international
Local – “….Phillip Wokorach and my younger brother, Oketayot Donald…”
International- “ All Blacks fly half, Beauden Barrett ”
What he would change about the sport given the power
“ Politicking, Favouritism and Bureaucracy in UG Rugby must stop, they will curtail the growth of the sport…”
Message to fans
“ Let’s support our rugby teams and players because without the fans, the teams and the game cannot grow to their actual potential ”
Message to upcoming players
“ Just love the game, i started off as the small bodied underdog but worked harder than many of them and earned their respect… Y’all can do the same …”