Football Mania

This post is also available in: German

There is hardly a Ugandan male who is not fanatical about the English Premiership. Arsenal is the most popular team closely followed by Manchester United, and then smaller support for teams like Chelsea and Liverpool. Many, many of the local mini-bus and motorcycle taxis are adorned with the clubs’ logos or team names splashed across the windscreen sun-shield vinyls, let alone the number of people walking the streets in replica shirts (mostly Chinese fakes). This is not a Ugandan phenomenon either; I am told that the boda-boda stage (for motorcycle taxis) outside AIG’s office in Nairobi (the previous Manchester United shirt sponsors) was simply known by everyone as ‘Man U’. If you wanted to get to AIG’s office, one simply had to ask to go to Man U. However, it is amusing that not many of the Ugandans I have asked actually know where England is or that England is in Europe or even where Europe is.

Arsenal is apparently the most popular team simply because of its recent history of fielding more African players than any other team. As I mentioned, club logos are seen everywhere from buildings to vehicles and in most cases have been carefully painted by hand. A lot of time and effort goes into parading support for a football team they are only ever likely to watch on TV and which plays football in a country that they are never likely to visit.

In Uganda, English football games are broadcasted via the South African satellite service, DSTV, via their Super Sports channels. These live feeds are also watched by radio stations who then give commentaries in the local Lugandan language only. On a Saturday afternoon, up to three games are shown simultaneously, whereas in England it is not possible to watch a 15.00 hrs kick-off at all. Therefore for my (English) husband, Uganda, apart from the constantly beautiful weather, is simply a football paradise. If you support Arsenal or Manchester United especially, then you have live TV access to literally every game they play and in whichever competition they are playing in.

Ugandan league games are seldom shown even on the local UBC (Uganda Broadcasting Company) networks, but there is intense support for the national team, which is currently managed by a Scotsman. If the national side is playing an international match not too far away from home, there is a tribal away support that travels to watch the game. Recently, Uganda played Kenya in Nairobi and the border was absolutely clogged for a couple of days with people trying to get into Kenya.

If a game is on, the pubs are full with fans that mostly buy a soft drink and then hold onto it for 90 minutes. Ugandans prefer to sit and watch games and seats in pubs will be arranged in orderly lines like in a cinema. A loud roar thunders through Kampala when one of the favorite teams scores. There is actually no real need to watch a game or look up the results in the Internet as by simply sitting in my garden I can count the number of roars (goals) in a game. Arsenal is definitely the loudest. Depending on which team wins, ‘the Losers’ leave the pubs quite quickly and go home depressed whilst ‘the Winners’ stay in the pubs and then buy alcohol to celebrate. In a country where most Ugandans don’t have enough money for food or school fees, there always seems to be money available for a few beers or Waragi (Ugandan Gin) after the match! Newspapers often recount alcohol related deaths of supporters over-celebrating even just league victories!!

My husband loves Uganda as he is an enthusiastic Manchester United supporter, in his 33rd season. In our old house we had DSTV for a monthly fee of 185.000 UGX (approx. 90 US$) and received the maximum channel ‘bouquet’, so 2010 was certainly a good year for him, finally being able to watch every single Manchester United game.

Unfortunately, the new house has only a very small living room and therefore we have not yet set up our stereo, video projector and big screen. Hence for the last 4 weeks my husband has been suffering from ‘withdrawal’ and shows worrying symptoms like not getting up from bed until lunch time and then spending hours after hours at the laptop cursing the slow Ugandan Internet connection as he tries to log in to BBC Sport or MUTV Online.

Before football causes my marriage to go completely down the drain I have decided to turn my direction from constant moaning and in its place set-up a new project in this happy new year. I like Internet, I like blogging, and I especially love maths and statistics, so I have started a new blog: Soccerwidow.

Whilst my husband will probably spend another year passively observing English football games and reading everything what can be found on the English League in the Internet, I will actively use my increasing blogging knowledge and skills and develop an informative web site about English football and in particular betting. With the many millions of football supporters world-wide I hope that my new English football and online betting blog may find more readers than my blog about Uganda and development services. As my blog hopefully grows I will enter the many affiliate programs and place links and adverts in my new blog, and if my many readers then click on them then I will earn money with football being a dedicated anti-football person. This is not a joke! I’m going to be very serious about football and betting; and my husband has promised to support me by moderating my articles. I am extremely excited. 🙁