Uganda hockey-playing trio of Innocent Mbabali, Emmanuel Baguma and Colline Batusa currently ply their trade in Italy as professional players.
Mbabali plays for Italian Championship side (Serie A1 – top tier), Hockey Team Bologna while Baguma and Batusa both play for National Division One (Serie A2) outfit Hockey Club Pistoia, a team that is vying for promotion to the championship.
The trio have all made their debuts at their respective clubs having completed their moves last year shortly after a noose on sports activities was loosened following a long hiatus due to COVID-19.
Before making the Italian move, Mbabali played for Uganda National Hockey League side Wananchi. He also had a stint at United States International University (USIU) in Kenya between 2017 and 2019.
Batuusa played for Wananchi, Kampala, City Lions then went back to Wananchi.
For Baguma, he only played for local side Wananchi. If it wasn’t for COVID-19, he would have completed his move to another local side City Lions prior to the 2020 season that was forced to grind to a halt due to COVID-19.
The former Wananchi trio have also been a formidable force in Uganda, helping their side to win back to back men’s league titles.
“They’re very good players who have practically shouldered their club’s league triumphs in the last two years. They would be a great presence in the national squads set up, but reliable backups are available,” Stanley Tamale – Uganda Hockey Association Assistant General Secretary, also hockey player and umpire said when asked about the trio.
Netherlands based Derrick Akuwa is also one of Uganda’s hockey exports though his game is more passive these days than that of the above mentioned trio.
Uganda also has a handful of semi-professional players plying their trade in Tanzania including; Oduka who once locally played for Rockets and Wananchi, as well as Simba (now City Lions), Frank Yoningom who played for Wananchi, David Onenchan also locally played for Wananchi and Rockets plus Emmanuel Owani who also played for Wananchi.
Uganda Hockey now hopes to have more players turn pro or semi-pro and play across borders but this will require the reviving of national teams, something that’s happening at the moment.