The Cricket fraternity gathered, on Saturday, gathered at Lugogo oval to celebrate the legendary Samwiri Walusimbi.

Walusimbi is a former player, coach and administrator and is considered by many as the best Uganda has ever produced.

The colourful celebrations, an initiative of UCA and sponsored by Tusker Malt, were attended by Walusimbi’s family, a cream of former Cricket players, the fans of the game across different generations, and various stakeholders including Media and administrators like NCS and UOC.

“We started this last year when he celebrated the birthday of Mr Lutaya (Abbey) and after it was a success, we decided that every year we will honour legends, everyone who has contributed to this sport. We also honoured Sam Ssewagudde last year as well,” said UCA Board Member Paul Kaheru.

“So, as UCA and few friends of the game, we decided that we should honour Walusimbi for his great service to the game as a player, coach and an administrator.”

Samwiri Walusimbi (left)

It was a good initiative and un-typical of Uganda and African society in general that honours only the departed.

The Celebrations that were attended by Walusimbi himself as expected, started at 1:30pm with lunch before a star studded legendary game was played – Samji’s XI beat Walu’s XI by 40 runs.

Popular Musician Daniel Lubwama aka Navio (who calls Walusimbi uncle) also played in the legendary game, and his mother Maggie Kigozi (wife to the late Daniel Sserwana Kigozi – elder brother of Walusimbi) attended the event.

Walusimbi Challenges Cricket Association To Spread The Game

Walusimbi maintained his calm demeanour even on his big day.

“Walusimbi is a man who loves the game Cricket,” Walusimbi spoke of himself when asked by the media to describe himself in a few words.

“This day is not about me but it’s a day to celebrate the game of Cricket. This Sport has come a long way, it has seen many changes, especially after the 1972 when the Asians where expelled from Uganda.”

“After Asians, I had the opportunity of going across the schools to pass on this game to young ones. We had one Cricketing club, and we had to raise the standard from club to the National level and my highlight is that I was one of those who brought the game from the club to the national level.”

Walusimbi urged Uganda Cricket to spread the game: “The game has changed a lot, money has come into the game, back then, we used to sponsor ourselves, I remember the first trip we made, we had to each contribute like in buying air tickets and so on.

“The standard of the game has improved a lot, its much higher than our days due to more training and many facilities than what we used to have.”

“This Sport, to have a bright future, must be managed well; and this will be done through good administration. There is no gate collection so most funds come from abroad (ICC) so that money must be used for it’s right purposes.

“The Association must ensure that Cricket is played more in schools, its no longer a popular sport in Schools. Games like Mwiri Vs Budo or Nyakasura could flood the gates here at Kyadondo.”

Samwiri Walusimbi – A Legacy Like No other

Walusimbi’s contribution to the game of Cricket needs no introduction having captained and Coached the Cricket Cranes (Uganda Cricket National team) and also became the Chairman of Uganda Cricket Association (UCA).

Most important of all, he is one of the two Ugandans (the other being John Nagenda) to have represented Uganda at the 1975 Word Cup, then playing under East Africa Community team.

He also did a great part to spread the game of Cricket in early 1970s after the Asians were expelled from the country by former President Iddi Amin Dada.

Soroti Cricket Academy earlier tweeted: Coach Sam was the first to believe in our work. Gave the opportunity to the first girls and Boys from @Soroti to showcase and gain much needed experience in the league. We celebrate this giant of the game that continues to advise and provide opportunities.”

“I started playing Cricket before I joined Primary One, my older brother Dan Kigozi taught me the game and when I started school at Buddo I had a rough idea of what the game was all about,” Walusimbi remembers.

“I have really been involved ever since then up to this time.I was fortunate enough to play in the first World Cup in 1975, I also represented Uganda while at school. We played some good teams which toured Uganda back in the days.

“While I reached the top of the ladder, my highlight is that I tried to pull up the young ones, nurturing young ones is really the most important thing.

“We played tough teams at the World Cup and despite not winning a single game there, Unlike Nagenda (Ugandan teammate at the World Cup) who went direct to England after the tournament, I came back here and passed on the knowledge of what I had learnt here.”

One of the speakers on the day, said that calling Walusimbi Uganda’s best all rounder ever is wrong, but he is Uganda’s best Cricketer of all time!

Kaheru, in his recent blog wrote: “He (Walusimbi) grew up quickly in the game developing into a very good medium pace bowler who could do all sorts of things with the ball, and a dependable middle order batsman. After an injury on his shoulder, he changed into a spin bowler and he was excellent at it. He even took the new ball sometimes bowling spin. He played at all levels from schools cricket to club cricket and all the way to the Uganda National Team.”

Walusimbi is the founder of Wanderers Cricket Club.

He captained Uganda national team from 1973, elected Chairman of Uganda Cricket Association in 2000, coached Uganda U19 team to the World Cup in 2006 and later made coach of the senior team in 2009.

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Brian Kawalya is an Award winning Journalist, Director and Chief Sports Writer of The-SportsNation, covering top events and breaking some of the biggest stories.

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