Kampala International University (KIU) Titans forward Stephen Wani Oryem is dreaming of taking the game of basketball to Northern Uganda, as well as popularizing it there.
Born in Kitgum district in Northern Uganda, Oryem was introduced to basketball in 2013 at Pope John Paul II Secondary School in Gulu district, after people encouraged him to utilize his tall stature to start playing the game.
At Pope John Paul II, Oryem met Innocent Rwot Omiyo – then a superstar at the school – who introduced him to basketball. With Rwot Omiyo, Oryem would take to the court for training every day and by the time he sat for his Uganda Certificate of Examinations exams, he was regarded as a prospect to succeed the master.
However, the 26-year old star is not content with the fact that despite producing a number of stars for the game, very few people in Northern Uganda actually follow or show even a little interest in basketball.
It is for this reason that Oryem has stated that some of his future plans include making basketball a mainstay in the sports arenas in Northern Uganda, just like football.
“I want to improve basketball in Northern Uganda. This is my homeland and for sure, this region has always produced great stars in the league but there is no team from there competing,” Oryem recently told the KIU website.
“It is my future plan to change and improve the game there,” Oryem added.
According to Oryem, he will collaborate with schools and the community itself to promote the game in the grassroots. He also plans to partner with like-minded organizations and individuals to spread the gospel of the hoops game.
Interestingly, Oryem’s love for basketball was, however, not shared by his father, who upon completion of O’level in 2014, decided to take Oryem to Lugazi Homestone Boarding School in to distract him from the game. It is from such negative perceptions that Oryem draws his inspiration of popularizing basketball.
Oryem was remarkably reunited with basketball in 2016 when he joined Kampala University to study Computer Science and Information Technology. His love affair with basketball was rekindled and he was consequently recruited into the university’s basketball team, the Kampala University Eagles.
After completing his degree, he joined KIU to do a Master’s Degree in Information Technology and it was inevitable that he plays for KIU Titans as well.
He has since become an important player for the Titans and he remains a mainstay on Coach Brian Wathum’s regular starting lineups and even after the league was suspended due to an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in Uganda, he is still certainly part of the team’s future plans.
He is currently investing a lot of effort in training to improve his physical and mental fitness, and when the basketball league finally resumes, Oryem says he will be raring to go.
Credit: KIU website