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Ecstasy and Agony:The story of Arua’s Onduparaka FC

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Onduparaka FC

The mysterious case of Onduparaka and their unending quest for supremacy was first brought to light by their promotion to the 2015/2016 season of the then Azam Uganda Premier League just five years after the club was founded. Further elaborated by their short but yet preeminent history.

Onduparaka reached the Promised Land leaving hundreds of thousands of fans tearful, emotional, and happy. Many of these fans stormed the streets of Arua in spontaneous rupture of overwhelming joy.

This was a turning point in the trajectory of Ugandan Football witnessing a club which in 2011, was merely amateur in all senses of the word. Started by a group of University graduates and little was known to them that the entire West Nile region would rally behind such a cause.

From a fan’s perspective, it has been some journey following them up and down the country since their inception into the topflight league, from the depths of Arua to numerous trips to Kampala most ending in disappointment.

This gigantic club has however experienced a drastic plummet in the past three seasons, a hard one for that matter that has trivialized them into a breeding ground for the big dogs in the league.

Their tantalizing decline in the past few years lives much to the imagination, a would have been a serious force to reckon with had they maintained their players. These are the thoughts of fans whose love for the club transcends all boundaries.

The genesis of their problems

Onduparaka FC

Most of the star players like Viane Ssekajugo deserted the club which brough the club’s performance down during the years | Courtesy photo

You can rarely say you have seen it all but most Onduparaka fans will tell you that is the very truth. It’s impossible, to sum up, the last three years of their unprecedented decline under one piece of writing so here are some of the highlights:

The heartbreaks at Lugogo in 2017 and 2018 after what one would consider abject displays especially to decimation at the hands of Mike’s KCCA stand out as some of the shortcomings. They both much to the amusement of the KCCA fans, saw the Onduparaka contingent resorting to violence.

KCCA were worthy winners on both occasions and Onduparaka never got going, but feelings of anguish and disappointment at a sport where there is supposed to be love were not going to go away, and it was not going to be the last time.

Their standout misgiving however remains their failure to meet the financial obligations courtesy of the departure of Gaming giants Betway in 2018. The year would seem detrimental as they stumbled, staggered, and fought their way back to the top. They still are.

During this very year, their longest unbeaten home-run collapsed at the hands of SC Villa in a tightly contested affair. The Greenlight Stadium faithful have however kept urging, roaring, singing, and sometimes berating their beloved team and always following them.

The mass exodus from the club however just about climaxes their predicament in the last three years. The likes of Muhammad Shaban, Rashid Toha, Viane Ssekajugo, Gadafi Gadihno, Denis Okot Oola, Gadafi Wahabu, and so forth have since left the club. All these were influential players at the
club.

The Management Conundrum

Charles Livingstone Mbabazi

Charles Livingstone Mbabazi joined Onduparaka FC at the start of theirUganda Premier League campaign | Courtesy photo

With their promotion to the topflight, they more than ever sought a change in their destiny and hired just about the best candidate to deliver this shift in luck.

Livingstone Mbabazi, who to many was the dawn of a new era. An exciting and enthusiastic manager who laid plans to develop the club took over not long after Leo Adra decided he was content with the assistant role. A man, who was liked by the majority of the fan base, seemed to bode well in his
favor, but things soon turned sour.

Potential optimism surrounded my friends but that was ultimately the last straw. It was close but no cigar. This marked one of the most significant days in the resurgence of Onduparaka.

As always the case, there was always going to be some drama or controversy surrounding the club. This was thanks to the personality of their then-new gaffer. This continuously disrupted their season.

Anguish, sadness emanated around the Greenlight Stadium but Mbabazi had worked a miracle with a squad that was nowhere near enough to be in the position it was.

With the weight of an entire region on his shoulders, he posed with a stern look on his face and his tactics board in hand, before setting off to see his team win numerous games conjuring up some magic. He gave them their best season in the top flight before leaving in 2018.

It was during this time that Asaph Mwebaze took over at the club in the aftermath of Livingstone Mbabazi’s departure. He would later resign from his job sighting a number of reasons not only limited to salary arrears.

What Vialli’s coming means to them

After a second unsuccessful stint at the club for Livingstone Mbabazi, Onduparaka now have a new savior. A charismatic football brain that boosts a reputation of working with teams dealing with a small budget.

Vialli Bainomugisha, who has been at Lweza FC, Water FC, and most notably Ankole Province in the FUFA Drum tournament seems the right man to handle the transition and provide a new dimension for the club.

He is one personality not known to many but regarded as calm, versatile, and intelligent in his approach to the game for the few that have the pleasure of knowing him.

With this, the Onduparaka fans should have a breath of fresh air and pray his tenure doesn’t go down like the two stints of Mbabazi who brought exciting but yet controversial phenomena at the club.

He is charged with the responsibility of stewarding the caterpillars into the unforeseeable future which seems a mountain to climb especially considering that they aren’t the same team from three years ago.

The team he finds is bleeding and awaiting a quick surgery in light of the mistakes of the past 3years. The biggest positive for them however is that relegation has not yet been known to them as an option. Vialli can salvage on this going forward.

His role in nurturing young talent to go through the ranks and join the senior team will prove paramount during his three-year stay at the Arua based side. This will prove important for a club battling financial problems.

The present task at Onduparaka seems one for the big strong and level headed personalities. Handling a transition with limited resources. Vialli seems to have the right blueprint for such asks and fascinating enough, he finds himself in the hot-seat.


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