During this edition of 10 All Out, Isaac has had the privilege of speaking to ex-Ugandan U19 wicket-keeper Denis Musali. Denis now had focussed his attention onto developing Uganda’s next generation of cricketers with his work at Wanders CC.
Q1. What has been your journey through cricket so far? What have been some of the personal challenges you have experienced y and what have been some of the highlights?
My cricket journey started during high school when I was about 13, I went to a Christian founded missionary school and cricket was the most popular sport at school. Therefore, it was easy to pick up the sport; luckily I found I had a natural talent and the rest is history. Cricket in Uganda is mostly played in Christian founded missionary schools so if you want to play the game it’s advisable that you join one of them. When I was 15, I was chosen to be part of the U15 national team, then the U17 and then the U19 team that eventually played at the 2004 and 2006 World Cups. After University, I played for the national senior team for a short while before life caught up with me. My highlights are definitely the U19 World Cups but the low point is not playing longer for the national team.
Q2. Who is your cricketing idol?
As a wicketkeeper-batsman and Australian fan, I liked Adam Gilchrist and Tatenda Taibu. Locally my idol was Kenneth Kamyuka, he probably is one of the greatest cricketers to play for Uganda.
Q3. Would you like to me tell me about Wanderers CC?
Wanderers is the second oldest cricket club in Uganda, we have been around since 1984 and we are one of the eight-member clubs of Ugandan Cricket. Most of the best cricketers in Uganda have been through our structure. Sam Walusimbi who is arguably the best cricketer Uganda has produced featured at the 1975 World Cup in England is currently our current Patron.
Q4. Football is the major sport in Uganda, so I was wondering what made you take up cricket?
Like I said I got lucky that I went to a cricket school, if I had gone to a football school probably I would never have known cricket.
Q5. Do you believe cricket is a sport that has the potential to make a difference within Ugandan society?
Cricket has the potential to create a big social impact in the country, especially with the cricket originating from within schools. We have seen what the game has done for the people in Rwanda after what happened in 1994. It’s no different here, my partner and I had a cricket academy going where we organized tournaments for U19 kids to keep them busy during the holidays and ensuring that they stayed away from bad vices. These tournaments had a great influence on the people involved. We have a cricket program in the eastern part of Uganda run by the Soroti Cricket Academy focused on young females that would have been forced into early marriages by their families. This programme has gone on to produce national team stars. CWB a UK based charity visits Uganda twice a year and they use cricket to spread the HIV awareness message.
Q6. What has it been like to be involved in Ugandan cricket during the rapid development of sport in the country?
Exciting but the needs for developing sport outweigh the resources we currently have to see through this growth. Federations also have to find a balance between ICC funding criteria and their own requirements. This coupled with the fact that in this part of the world a niche sport, which cricket is, gets very little help from the government and cricket does not benefit from extra help of the Olympic Committee.
Q7. What are some of the major challenges facing the further developing of cricket in Uganda?
I have touched on a previously but the major one would be facilities, we don’t own a single ground and have to rely on partners to allow us to play the game. Of recent, we have been competing for our main ground with music shows and church services. With our meagre resources, it’s very difficult to develop our own facilities.
Q8. What does success look like for the Wanderers CC?
Developing the next generation cricketers not just as players but individuals. Cricket is not a profession for anyone here in Uganda. We take pride in developing a club that doesn’t only play cricket but looks after its people beyond the cricket pitch.
Q9. What do you believe the future of Ugandan cricket holds?
The future is very bright for us as long as we are intentional about doing things. The Asian teams in the country are fast-rising because they have invested in important, facilities, player exposure and remuneration of players. We need to ensure that the sport can look after players for them to keep playing it, we lose a lot of quality players because they have to find another way of surviving out of the game. We are actually blessed as athletes and once we can complement this with things like proper conditioning and practice then we can compete to a high level on the international stage.
Q10. Do you have anything else you would like to use this opportunity to talk about?
I feel like a continent we need each other to develop, the Europeans have an ECL competition, the Asian cup has been expanded to even include teams like Japan so we need to hold each other’s hand. Sometimes we are our own enemies when we try to run alone.
Both CrickTalk20 and Isaac would like to thank Denis for his time and his invaluable experience about cricket in Uganda and insights about cricket globally. If you would like to follow Denis’ journey in cricket he can be contacted through the following links
Facebook: Musali Denis