Commonly known by the moniker; Didi – Ruhweza Alema Darius is one of the recent sensations from Pirates triumphant 15’s side that hoisted both the 2017 Uganda Cup and the Nile Special league 2017-2018 . Kratos Sports reached out to the Pirates Rugby forward in order to get to know the man behind the gladiator :-
Son of Ruhweza Akiiki and Brenda Nerima, born in a house of 7 children where he is comfortably positioned at number 4 out of the lot, Didi lived a pretty ordinary life as a husky youngster, very naughty but intelligent; he was a part of stream A in City Parents’ School which was a group set aside for special attention because of their Academic prowess to nurture their gifts better – Ruhweza says despite the hectic demand of being in stream A, primary was fun.
His educational brilliance saw him land a place in one of Uganda’s elite schools in St. Mary’s college Kisubi popularly known as SMACK which doubles as a Rugby traditional powerhouse that feeds Uganda with talent in the sport. Didi echoes with a good sense of humour that, “…… In my senior one (2006), I was at St. Mary’s college kisubi and that’s where my rugby life started. Being a husky (chubby) kid, I really didn’t have a choice in the matter – by the time I had put my suitcase in the dormitory, I was declared a “prop”. I had no idea what that was but later got to know and it has been the story to date …. life as a prop.”
He was initiated in the sport by Nixon Ochatre, a form four rugby player and student at SMACK who he considers to be his first ever coach that grew his talent. Just as in every traditional school where Rugby is culture, a rugby player was perceived as a god in SMACK and the laws of the normal student around school did not necessarily apply to these oval ball passionate combatants. There was a certain preferential treatment if you played the sport and even more, if you actually played it well.
He arrived at the time when the elite (gods) where Paul Kabazi, Oscar Opio and the great Felix Lubega just to mention but a few, ever since he was declared a prop upon arrival, he was under the tutelage of Mutebi Ronald.
As fate would have it, the rugby gods watched over this young man as he departed from SMACK after his four years only to land him in Namilyango College (2010) for his A ‘level – another Rugby passionate community . As is the norm in Namilyango’s rugby, competition is immense and he describes this as his most trying time as a rugby player because of the excessive number of props that were good in the college. He mentions the likes of Alphonse kishato and Sembuya Davis that actually made him realize that he actually had to put in the extra effort to earn his slot on the team rather than have it handed to him simply because of what he was in SMACK.
“………it was a vexing time but I believe that was what molded me into the type of player I am now and I would love to thank Fred Mudoola and Victor Wadia for pushing me even when I wanted to hang up my boots…….” Ruhweza recalls.
Post High School Rugby
He resumed his active partaking in the sport when he went to university at Uganda Christian University, which he represented at the National University games and the East African games. He won quite a healthy number of medals and trophies with the university side but his hunger for the sport at the highest level was still yearning for more.
It was at Uganda Christian University that he was scouted by then scrum half / fly half of Warriors Rugby Club; kihumuro Reuben who saw potential in him and advised that he take his game to the next level. Didi then played with Warriors for one season under experienced coach Herbert Wafula before crossing over to Pirates Rugby Club after he was lured and encouraged by the coach at the time; Kinene Anthony.
Despite the level of abruptness in the switch, Reuben understood the drive for glory that Didi had and couldn’t stand in the way of the big man’s destiny.
He persevered with Pirates during many trying times when they came off as second best and even when he lost to his former club; warriors, he is now reaping the benefits under Bobby Musinguzi as coach of Pirates who changed the way things were done and has driven the boys to two trophies in a space of 6 months.
Life outside Rugby
Ruhweza Alema is a banker, working for Stanbic bank and is currently studying ACCA to become better at his craft – “…… it’s very demanding but luckily, I have great employers and colleagues that understand the passion that I have for sport and have accommodated me where possible…….”
Worst Rugby moment
He painfully recalls when Pirates lost the Uganda Cup semi final to Heathens in 2015 due to some very dubious refereeing – “…….. there was no respect for the time and energy that we put in, that game did not reflect any of the values that rugby represents…….”
One thing remains certain about Didi, his ambition has no limits and he aspires to don the national 15’s jersey one day (as a player of course). In a time when experienced heads such as Brian Odongo have been unavailable, one would have thought that the national coaching staff would have involved the prop from Pirates. Anyway, all in due time, Ruhweza will get the call up.
Didi has been a revelation in the Pirates Rugby juggernaut
In his own words, he says that he wants to represent Uganda at an international tournament and make Pirates the best rugby club in the East African region and at a certain point, pass on the knowledge that he has accumulated over the years to the generation that will follow.
“ My role model in the sport is Fred Mudoola; as a rugby personality, he has done all I aspire to do. An African champion, a great player with enough silverware and a great coach.”
Fred Mudoola – photo credit – New Vision
Outside rugby, he looks up to Amos Wekesa who is a self-made millionaire that is earning while doing what he loves, something that Ruhweza respects a lot.
His favorite rugby player is Tendai “Beast” Mtawarira, the South African prop is the type of player he always wants to emulate – “…..Tendai is a beast!!! need I say more…..” Didi adds
Tendai “the Beast” Mtawarira
What he would change about the sport if he had the chance
“ I would change the lack of transparency that is within the governance of the sport, both on and off pitch – there is a lot that is wanting but I will leave it at that for now.”
Message to the fans
“ To the fans, I would like to thank you for the support and love that you have shown to me and other rugby players over the years, we appreciate and are humbled. I urge you to keep supporting for you’re the reason we do what we do.”
Ruhweza Alema inspired his younger brother, Desire Ayera (front) to play the sport
A word to upcoming players
“ …… the path of a rugby player is not an easy one, your focus determines your reality. I will relay a piece of advice that one of my coaches laid onto me – a rugby number, game and league is won by the person/team that desires it most. Do your best in all your endeavors both on and off pitch and the rest will take care of itself……..”