Amidst all challenges, the Kampala Junior Team (KJT) U-12 side won the 2017 Gothia World Youth Cup in China.
First, most players struggled to raise the air ticket fares and this explains the limited number (7 players and 2 officials) that traveled for one of the most prestigious World Youth tournaments.
Add to the fact that all the players were first time travelers, the team did not find difficulties to acclimatize.
On Tuesday afternoon, business came to a standstill at the lake side Entebbe International Airport as the team returned aboard Qatar Airlines, QR 1387 from Doha.
They were warmly welcomed by excited parents, guardians, friends, journalists, coaches and sympathizers.
The annual Gothia Cup (U-12 competition) attracted a total of 62 countries across the globe.
Kampala Junior Team not only won the overall trophy, but also had two of their players scoop individual accolades.
Reagan Ssekisambu, 11, young brother to Uganda Cranes and Vipers forward, Erisa Ssekisambu, was top scorer with 26 goals in 8 matches.
Brian Katwesigye was voted as the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament.
Pooled in Group 15, the young lads from Uganda kicked off the tourney on a sound platform, winning 11-1 against Cc & Px.
They defeated Urumqi No.5 School 4-1, Enjoy School 8-1, Jinju Yoon Sung Kwon 15-1 and Egypt’s Alexanderia Sporting Club 11-0 in the other remaining group games.
In the knock out stages, Wen Lai School and Shen Rui fell prey to the all-conquering KJT side 5-1 and 4-2 in the respective quarter and semi-finals.
In the finals, KJT recovered from two goals down to win 6-2 against Mqi No.5 school and claim the trophy.
Africa was represented by 5 countries – South Africa, Namibia, Ghana, Egypt and Uganda in the tournament (only South Africa and Egypt played in the U-12 tournament).
KJT director cum coach Mansoor Kabugo hailed the character of the youngsters from the start. He also attributed the victory to the good preparations held since November 2016.
The players are talented and they had the will power to win.
All of them were first time travelers and they acclimatized so well.
Others had challenges of the food and using chop sticks to eat but they did not mind about that.
They concentrated to play and win.
We also trained well since getting the invitations in November last year
Addressing the parents, journalists and the players during a special welcome dinner at Fishing Village along the busy Kampala – Entebbe Highway, Youth football delegate to the FUFA Assembly Farouk Kigongo appreciated the efforts of the victorious team – players and officials.
“I say thank you and congratulations. This is a big achievement. Keep up the fire burning because a lot is in stock for you,” Kigongo sated.
Kigongo also advised the parents to encourage many of their children play football and to support them in the best possible way.
The team won sympathizers and organizers of the tournament along the way who donated them playing boots and shopping vouchers.
Throughout the tournament, KJT only used the 7 players who had traveled for all the matches and had no substitutes.
The team has landed invitation to Spain in Valencia for more matches and specialized training.
The victorious KJT
- Players: Abdul Shakur Nsereko (Captain), Reagan Ssekisambu, Kevin Musenze, Godfrey Ssekibengo, James Epajo (Goalkeeper/left back), Brian Katwesigye, Lule Lutaaya
- Officials: Mansoor Kabugo and Sam Kibuuka