Its barely a year since Wakiso Giants was formed – a product of Kamuli Park FC – and now the club are strong favourites to earn promotion to top flight.
The journey is halfway; Wakiso Giants are top of the Elgon Group of the 2018/19 StarTimes FUFA Big League and if they can maintain that spot, which is actually achievable, depending on the trend set, they will be in the Premier League come next season.
If this comes to pass, it may not be one of the best success stories ever told, but their rise to stardom will hold a special mention in the history of the game.
By their big league status, the club has put in place the required structures, a dream to most of the Super league clubs. The club, since storming the scene, have been the talk of town. They have so far lived as advertised, though many believe that a lot still needs to be done.
The officials at the club have hinted that they are ready to stretch their resources in an attempt to make a giant leap forward, and let the rest (clubs) take this as a warning.
Kratos’ Brian Kawalya dug a bit deeper to find out all about the trending Wakiso Giants, the little history, the journey so far and plans ahead.
Money, the biggest factor
Wakiso Giants are the league’s money bags, anyone refuting this?
In modern football, money is used to produce results, and Wakiso Giants has followed the right steps to do so. Investments have been spot on, per say.
Much has been incurred since June 2017 when club President Musa Atagenda bought this club at a fee which is believed to be around Sh100M.
There were overhaul changes as neither the staff nor the players from the now defunct Kamuli Park were retained, meaning that everything was started from scratch, except their status in the FUFA Big league.
Over Sh2M is spent on every home game alone and by 6 PM, the club is in Jinja on match day, we can confirm.
The club employs about 50 personnel and are all on payroll – 35 players and 15 staff (management and Secretariat). “We get our salary on time”, notes one of the players that preferred anonymity.
Its this staff and player motivation that has fuelled positive results both on and off the pitch.
Professional Management of the Club
Having money is one thing, but using it the right way is a different tussle.
The club recruited the right people in every position, and above all, given everyone space to perform his or her role accordingly.
None, unless on the technical team, can intervene on which player should start and in which position, Coach Ibrahim Kirya can confess.
The operational staff is headed by a young but vibrant CEO Sula Kamoga – formerly at Kireka United and recently served at Express FC, also doubles as the Director of Alpha Sports, a talent management company.
“Our target is to become the number one club in Uganda both on and off the pitch, and we want to achieve this through providing a quality sporting environment,” Sula revealed the club’s mission and vision.
The club doesn’t entertain any form of indiscipline and this can be witnessed when they ended Veteran midfielder Steven Bengo’s contract after the former Villa player absconded from duty. “No player is bigger than the club here,” adds a strict Kamoga.
The club want to be among the top four clubs in Uganda (probably on the league table) in the next five years at least, and it’s something within their reach if we are to go with what has been set.
They have a formidable media team, headed by Ismael Kiyonga and Photographer Don Mugabi. It’s their hard work that has seen the club out compete even some super league clubs to the bigger space in the media.
Whichever template they are using to run this club, one thing I can confirm for now is that it has yielded the needed results.
Bugembe – Blessing in disguise
Despite granting them the right to use the name Wakiso Giants, FUFA denied the club the request to host games at Wakisha Recreation ground where they had established a huge fan base, and directed them to seek solace in the East.
Consequently, the club officials settled for Bugembe ground, Kyabazinga Stadium as called by the locals.
This has indirectly played in Wakiso’s favour: Technically, Bugembe is bigger (pitch size) compared to Wakisha which has given them a competitive advantage against the Big league teams that play a kick and pressing game.
To back up the above, Kirya’s team is yet to concede a goal while playing at Bugembe in the league.
Did you know? Bugembe is less than five minutes away from Coach Kirya’s birth place.
However, CEO Kamoga says that the club is set to lose it’s identity if they continue to play in Jinja, while being called Wakiso. “Wakiso is our home base as the name suggests. We have lost many fans who can’t afford to travel and watch our home games in Jinja.”
He adds that this ‘mix’ in locality is delaying their sponsorship approvals.
The Strong Fan Base
You may have witnessed them some on social media, or in the press, but one day take time to catch their game, you will get a clear picture of what a true passionate football fan is.
It’s a club that has attracted the people of all classes including the young generation, and to give credit where it’s due, use of offensive language (which has been the case for Uganda’s football) is yet to heard of from their fans, and this will make many other fans to join the bandwagon.
Wakiso takes about three full buses to their home games in Jinja. Most of these fans reside in Najjanankumbi where the club offices are situated.
The ‘Abasantaine’ (Wakiso loudy fans) support the game from the word go and this 12th player’s impact has been felt. However, these fans have not enjoyed the atmosphere since each game is like an ‘away game’ except for the few fans that reside in Jinja.
They are very passionate, and you can see them enjoying those good moments, led by the club ambassador and top musician Jose Chameleon who has been a regular fixture in their home games.
Wakiso has more travelling fans than almost half of the clubs in the top tier league and how the club acquired these fans will be a story for another day.
A lot still needs to be done:
However much it’s too early to criticise such a young club, but this is a monkey dance party. The quality of football, leave alone the end results, is yet to impress.
The team’s spine has been Hassan Wasswa Dazo and club captain Feni Ali, but with the return of veteran Karim Ndugwa and may be reinforcements especially at right back, success is inevitable.
Photos: Wakiso Giants Media team