Nam Blazers come of age

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By DEUS BUGEMBE

KAMPALA. Sometime in the early 90s, a group of missionaries descended upon Namuwongo, a Kampala suburb with hopes of fishing more followers. In the process, the evangelists set up African Gospel Community Church.
What they didn’t know was that they had given a glorious platform to a group of young boys in the neighbourhood by constructing a basketball court.
After almost over 20 year of balling at the community court, in 2015 the young peers decided to shift to the next gear and Namuwongo Blazers was born. As they say, the rest is history.
Three years on, and the Blazers have risen from the bottom of the Fuba development league against all odds to Division One where they will be playing for a place in the elite National Basketball League (NBL) next season.
“2018 was do or die for us, we were favourites and determined to break barriers,” recounts club president Grace Buwooza.
As top contenders, the Blazers lived up to the hype with a memorable campaign that saw them crowned champions after clinching the finals series 3-2 against International University of East Africa.
Blazers could be a step away from the Promised Land in shape of the NBL but they have challenges too.
“Without a sponsor, we have had to fend for ourselves by raising money for registration in the league, buying team jerseys and other accessories like balls ,coaching tools and refreshments to mention but a few,” narrates captain Ronnie Mureeba.
The close community setting has helped the team stick together through hard times. The brotherhood explains why the side has lasted despite operating on peanuts.
“Player recruitment is almost by default and entirely based on availability and commitment to the team. Considering that all players have grown and lived together in Namuwongo, we know ourselves just too well hence maintaining the side has never been a problem,” says small forward John Balinya.
The young side will don their red next year playing at a much more competitive level with two things in mind. “A sponsor to help us run our day to day activities, promotion to NBL and producing players to represent the Silverbacks,” says Buwooza.
As president, Buwooza has a long term vision for the side to also play in regionial and continental championships. With budding talents like Vincent Yiki, Paco Musole and Ahemed Hasheam, the Blazers feel wired to go places under the stewardship of coach Steve Escodata.

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