Malaba Youth Development Association (MYDA) Football Club is the toast to one of the most popular border posts in Uganda. But the popularity of the football Club aptly named “the flying Eagles” exceeds Malaba. As a matter of fact, it is also bound to exceed Tororo where the newcomers will host their StarTimes Uganda Premier League home matches.
The King George Stadium, Tororo was hastily refurbished by the community to pass the UPL licensing standards and save the Eastern Giants the embarrassment and, or pressure of seeking solace elsewhere. Obviously, the Elgon View where they played their FUFA Big League home matches could not meet top-flight standards.
Come Tuesday, December, 8th, MYDA will make their long-awaited UPL debut since the football mother body declared them promoted after leading the Elgon group with 21 pts in 11 matches by the time COVID 19 rendered the national 2nd tier league climaxed.
From that moment on, excitement turned into pensive moments for not only the Club but also lovers of the beautiful game in the far East. With Kiboga Young’s failure to conquer Kitara in the play-off final, all purists on that side of the country crossed their fingers to pray that president Mohammed Shire and his team deliver the holy grail.
According to club CEO Hannington Muwanguzi, “every stakeholder in the region and, or hailing from around there has been concerned about the preparations of the team. We are thankful to the MYDA family and well-wishers for all their efforts and we hope they can keep on keeping on as we embark on this herculean task.”
God too has been on their side, MYDA has had their maiden game – an away fixture to defending champions Vipers – rescheduled to allow the venoms to concentrate on the CAF Champions League preliminary duel with Sudan’s Al Hilal.
That Vipers had prepared earlier and more comprehensively means MYDA can “live to die another day” as a debut at home against Police FC would be more of a welcome baptism than that away to the venoms.
Who are MYDA?! As the name aptly suggests, they are a community-based club designed for the youth in the area. Founded in 2009, they have exhibited a mercurial rise and almost got promoted during the captaincy of Joshua Okware between 2013 and 2015.
These honors have however fallen in the safe hands of goalkeeper Isaac Osikor, a hardworking and committed young man yours truly has seen grow into the leader he is during his days in Kansanga (no wonder he is head coach Abdulsamad Musafiri’s blue-eyed boy).
Coach Dada, as Musafiri is known, will rely on this former KIU student’s ingenuity to knit together a side expected to bring joy to the far East especially when fans are eventually allowed to attend UPL matches. Hopefully, sooner rather than later!
His Excellency obviously remains Mbale Heroes, having lifted the Uganda Cup twice in 1976 (as Gangama) and in 1999 under the stewardship of a player/ coach called Sam Ssimbwa.
Relegated in 2007, Mbale – a team that once merged with Kampala side Dairy FC – has also had the longest top-flight life span having experienced six promotions (in 1975, 1980, 1983, 1989, 1995, and 2006) prior to that drop in context.
Their longest spell was between 1995 – 2004, but they are not the only far east league representatives in history. There is also Mbale Town (1968), Soroti Town (1969), UCI (1988 and 1990), Busia Park (1991), Telestars (1997), Rockstars (1999 and 2001) plus CRO (2008, 2010 and 2014) and Hoima-Busia (2012).
Of all these names, only UCI and Soroti Town avoided the maiden season guillotine – the former lasting a season longer than the latter until mighty SC Villa prized away from their magic trio of Charles Omego, Eric Anyole (RIP), and Peter Onen – therefore, MYDA’s work is cut out for them.
Musafiri’s immediate boss Dennis Ayeet plus his juniors Elisha Madanda and James Kasirye have recommended squad additions to the board and the camp has subsequently been boosted by the signing of striker Paul Kibande (Doves FC), midfielder Isaac Doka Mweru (Express), defender Yakubu Ramathan (Lusaka Dynamos) and midfielder Eric Mutebi (Kansai Plascon).
Added to the successful contract renewals of ace striker Nsimbe Ibra and academy graduate Mark Bassi, you have a squad worth being proud of. Technical Director Baker Musaazi will hope his coaching staff can reciprocate the efforts of Mr. Shire’s executive whose patron is Hon. Sarah Opendi and boasts of John Rubamburamanzi, Paul Ayeet, Charles Bukuwa Wamono (PR & Marketing), Andrew Matovu (finance), Cathy Nabweteme, Eronie Nalweyiso, Daniel Obore, Gabriel Onyapit, Emma Okware, Emma Sseruwu, and Ronald Mukuru among others.
Striker Cosea Waiswa featured for Kyetume FC in their 1-1 draw with Kitara and defensive midfielder Moses Okello is hoping to play abroad soon, but the rest of the squad remains intact i.e. reserve keeper Andrew Ssekandi plus outfield players Martin Mande, Frederick Oundo, Dickson Outta, Stephen Okello, Rashid Mpaata, Mubarak Musenze, Derrick Basoga, John Gabula, Dangchur Derrick, veteran striker Norman Ogik, Abuba Moses, Moses Batali, Isma Mafabi, Peter Musoke, and Yunus Kasozi, but a few to mention.
As the flying eagles walk into King George Stadium, Tororo for their historic moment, all eyes will be on the lads to see if they can emulate the senior citizens of the far east and attempt to avert the curse of a 1st season relegation synonymous with debutante UPL sides of late. Come on you MYDA!
The writer is a sports analyst with Sanyuka TV and the presenter of #Ataakulaba on 102.1 FUFA FM every Sunday 6 pm – 8 pm.