Uganda cranes is the nickname of the obsessively cheered national football team of Uganda. The fans will always opt big for the team, credit to the undying love at heart.
At qualifiers, most often many are rekindled with high hopes, “as usual” and have to take the chill-pill but with time ‘the boys’ efforts keep showcasing a higher level of maturity. A force to reckon with.
Uganda Cranes Journey
In 1897, Rev. Archdeacon R. H. Walker of the Namirembe Church Missionary Society introduced the game of football in Uganda having arranged for a football to be delivered from England.
He was supported by G. L. Pilkington who diligently coached the boys at the Mengo Senior School with games being first played at Kakeeka in Mengo on a large grass field.
Later A. G. Fraser, a missionary, carried a football to Uganda in 1900 and four years later laid out a soccer field at King’s School in Budo, a school established for the sons of Ugandan chiefs.
Later in 1909, the Budo Old Boys was established for the purpose of the development of an alumni football team.
The first unofficial national team was founded in 1922, two years before the formation of the Uganda Football Association (UFA, current FUFA) .
The UFA formation therefore made things more formal and the first national team to be selected under UFA was for the inaugural Gossage Cup in 1926.
In 1924 the Kampala Football Association (KFA) is formed, with Kabaka Chwa II its first President. One of the first new clubs to affiliate to the KFA was the Nsambya Football Club in 1926. In the late 1940s the KFA became the Uganda Football Association (UFA).
It is on record that in 1956, UFA became the first association south of the Sahara to send a playing contingent to the United Kingdom but while there, they played barefooted and wore boots only in wet conditions.
In 1967 the Uganda Football Association (UFA) was changed to the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA).
Uganda Cranes Achievements
Having never qualified for the FIFA World Cup, the best story to write home about is finishing second in the 1978 African Nations Cup.
However on the African regional scene which is the CECAFA ((East & Central Africa) Cup, the cranes are fourteen time champions.
Having minimal success at the big boys table does not mean there’s less to celebrate about.
Namboole stadium, with a seating capacity of 45,202 , is the original name of the current Mandela national stadium which is the team’s fortress.
The cranes have only lost once thus far when it comes to international matches, which is one of the determinant factors to the fans loyalty.
Lows aside, these achievements have come at the expense of twenty five managers, sixteen Ugandan, a Nigerian, two Germans, an English man as first manager, an Argentine, an Egyptian, a Hungarian, Scotsman, Serbian and so on. All with chronicles of the cranes trials and tribulations.
Uganda Cranes Fans
A ‘true’ cranes fan ‘lives’ the experience of Ugandan football. It is not about being a mere spectator — it is about being a participant.
Match attendance is a given, of course, but there is also a duty to engage emotionally in the life of the cranes in order to impact positively on the team’s performance.
Being the twelfth man, the cranes fans are essential to the success of the team as the players and coaching staff.
It is the actions performed by fans at the game — the ritual chants, songs, banner waving, etc. — that motivates the team, intimidates the opposition players and perhaps even influences referees’ decisions.
The fans truly believe they must attend the game to ‘help the team to win’, not just to observe the event.
It can not go with out being mentioned that no matter where, football fans share a universal language that cuts across all cultures and many personality types.
A serious football fan is never alone. We are legion, and football is often the only thing we have in common …UGANDA CRANES OYE!?