Sweden has been one of the best hunting grounds for Ugandan footballers over the years. However, playing away from home consistently for more than 5-years is never an easy task.
The difficulty this comes with starts with the weather, the food, language and ‘discrimination’ among others – these alone are enough to get a player to lose their way.
We caught up with one of the players, Kenneth Mukisa Mbayo, who has endured the pain, through the thick and thin to make the grades of playing abroad.
In this interview, the ThorenGruppen FF defender shares how he has coped with life and what has helped him rise through the ranks in Swedish football for more than 5 years.
Mbayo, a born of Katabi-Entebbe, moved to Sweden in 2015 after a 3 week trial period at 5th tier side Ludvika FK where he spent only 1 year.
The 22-year-old could go on to captain Dalkurd’s U19 and U21 teams before moving on to sign for the 4th tier side Skellefteå FF in 2017 .
At Skellefteå FF, Mukisa featured in more than 65 matches in 3-years before joining the 3rd tier outfit ThorenGruppen FF earlier this year.
When asked what it felt like when he learned that he had gotten a chance for professional football with Ludvika FK, Mukisa says it was a dream come true.
When I was told that I was going to Sweden for a 3-weeks trial, I felt like my dream was coming to true. I took the opportunity with both hands and worked hard and subsequently got a playing contact.
Mukisa also narrated to us how his first season was in Sweden.
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I went through many challenges. The weather here is so different from that of Uganda. The language and food were also a problem, so my first season involved a lot that required me to adaptation and adjust.
Mukisa believes Edgar Wafula and Shafiq Bisaso were instrumental in his career.
I will give you 2 coaches, Edgar Wafula and Shafiq Bisaso. Edgar Wafula, who was my school coach at Light Academy pushed and gave me that exposure while Shafiq Bisaso was so helpful before I secured my swedish switch.
Mukisa has been deployed in different positions over the last 5-years. However, he prefers playing in central defense because it suits his strengths and abilities.
My favorite position on pitch is Center back because I feel comfortable there as it suits my strengths and abilities.
When asked how he is keeping fit during this coronavirus pandemic crisis, Mukisa says the club(ThorenGruppen FF) gave each player a special training program to follow.
I do my training at home which involves running and gym work, all supervised by the club. I also eat well because the diet is key to keeping fit.
Mukisa further says the Swedish division 3 is far different from Uganda’s top tier league, The StarTimes Uganda Premier League regarding competitiveness and professionalism.
Players here are more disciplined and professional. We have many international players (from different countries) in the league which makes it competitive and entertaining as compared to the Ugandan league.
Mukisa says he would like to play for English top side Manchester United if he would ever get a chance to play where he wants.
I would prefer to play for Manchester United if I get the chance because it is the team I love and support.
Away from club football, Mukisa dreams of playing for the Uganda national team, The Cranes which he believes will come at the right time .