BREAKING FREE

The past 3 months have been the toughest of my entire life, looking back though, I have no regrets…

Warning: Writing this doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the work they have done, in fact am grateful for the lessons I have had to forcefully learn myself first-hand.

I Didn’t know how to put this all on paper and I was indeed a bit worried putting it out or rather scared to write (Speak Up). Saying this has helped me get it off my chest and also to feel free, inspire others who are in the same situation that it’s not wrong to speak up and have courage to stand up for what’s right.

These horrible experiences started three months ago, when I decided to temporarily stay in Uganda and help with the take-off process of the new Take flight women’s football Project as Project Manager instead of going back to UK to continue playing football with my new teammates.  The whole point now is, I feel I lost my self, I stopped doing the things I love so that I commit to helping the women’s game at a level that I hadn’t before. I normally used to do things under the Sseninde Foundation & the famous Sseninde Women’s Development Cup to help women in communities and all over to have opportunities to play football.

What hurts me is amidst the confusion of deciding to do this, I was warned by so many experienced figures in the game including my lovely mother against doing it, they all told me it wasn’t a good decision because of the system & also it wasn’t yet the right time, I knew they were all right and I listened to the advice they all gave. I only decided to stay a little longer because I felt like I was letting down what my heart felt was right, I felt I was letting down women, I had worked so hard writing a strategy to help take the game to another level just that one little step forward, my passion to see the women’s game get to a different level pushed me so much to sacrifice everything that I had worked hard for to stay and fully help just in the initial take-off phase of this project. So that when I go back to the UK I don’t feel as bad that I didn’t do my part. I thought at least if I mentored someone and helped navigate them into the whole strategy, at least they could run it smoothly without my presence while I decide to go back and join my teammates who I had started training with briefly before coming back to Uganda.

How it all started:

If you have never worked in this institution you will never understand what am going to write about, or you will think I am a liar. Every day I got surprise after surprise at the level of incompetence, lack of teamwork, the level of laziness, the I don’t care attitude and hatred from most of the secretariat!

I was treated with hatred for being good at my job & for every time I involved others to work with me! I don’t remember ever feeling like that before or receiving so much hatred for doing a great job. In fact, instead the alleged bosses intimidated some of the workers, threatened them and told them not to listen to me. That is true because they came back to me and told me after they had been threatened!

The biggest surprise is the Master who I thought was not good, he turned out to be the one doing the right thing with the wrong people. Don’t ask me who he is because I think you all know if u are into local football.

Some of the young secretariat, are forced to do wrong and not say a thing, in fear to keep their jobs they shut up. No one is allowed to express opinions in the institution except if they are ‘generals’(executive) who are also barely agreeing on anything because there’s no trust amongst them. No one is allowed to speak because when u do, your labelled disrespectful, unappreciative and all sorts of names, actually, others even say u will never manage. Anyone who says anything that’s not favourable is allegedly attacking the institution.

During the CECAFA tournament, the same group did everything to undermine me because they couldn’t take a young lady being 100 times better than them at working hard. Imagine an executive who is meant to be exemplary having a routine of wake up, sit under the tree, go home and then get paid a big sum of allowances! They couldn’t stand a young woman giving her best & being smart every day, I watched big men everyday displaying how incompetent they were and struggling to make simple decisions!

 Shame I was excited to learn from them when I first came on the scene, but I tell you, I couldn’t learn anything from men who are old enough to be my grandfathers and not able to plan, communicate or even work as a team. What institution doesn’t embrace people who are good at their job? They instead pull them down instead of pushing them and supporting them.

Now, before you judge me and call me a lair, not everyone in there is bad, some are in prison and afraid to break free just like I was. The stage is open, go work there for just 3 weeks, experience is the best teacher, you don’t need a month to know how incompetent the system & some of the secretariat are. I will tell you this with an example, as the league is yet to kick off, licencing has been introduced, the one secretariat in charge of licensing put in a requisition to get transport & allowances so as to go visit pitches and he didn’t visit any, instead as I woke up, I saw a tone of complaints at the outcome of decisions that had been made over night from nowhere, I had to drive up my car to Soroti one of the furthest districts from the capital to witness the state of the pitch that was being rejected, good enough I went with him. The pitch was one of the best we have around considering the lack of facilities in our country, there’s even more to this, I may be labelled one with a loose mouth but imagine watching your reputation being damaged because of the incompetence of someone else not doing their jobs because they can’t be asked to do the right thing!

Now am not asking for a penny but imagine working three months or more without pay, or even facilitation for the work you do for the institution! Imagine having to do official work and being asked to use own money which u don’t have because clearly u working for free.

Well I don’t know the consequences of writing this, maybe very bad, but I know I have to pay for it somehow. I am brave, The courage I have had to have to write this I believe I have taken a big step into doing the right thing and also speaking up something I have kept on my heart for the last few weeks while I struggle to break free out of the prison. It felt like it and I feel like I have broken free somehow by Speaking Up. I want to thank my friend ‘A’ for writing me a poem about me the other day that opened up my eyes that am actually in a prison and have to find a way to break free out of it.

Am sad that doing something I love at this big level has to turn out like this! I am very strong minded and feel extremely disappointed for having been pushed to this level for something I really love. I hope before you judge me you try and seek the facts that exist to this story that I cannot put down in this writing. Thank you so much to all who have stayed on this hard journey with me, my incredible dad & mum, my friends who have advised me every single day and watched me do the mistakes and still continue to listen to me, and sadly those I have lost on the way, you have taught me to be tougher and have courage to always tackle issues in case u are away.

Last week I finally went back to doing what I love and that is to continue supporting and encourage women to have their voice, speak up for what right and also motivate them to continue playing football for there’s lots of opportunities now. I miss my smile. I will continue to also help with the project as I have visited all Super league clubs this week to continue sensitising them about the project. I am proud to contribute to the growth and development of women’s football around the world because it’s my passion.

What I have written here doesn’t portray or even compare to how terrible the situation is or has been, but it’s made me stronger and I have learned lots about the system. The past 3 months have been the toughest of my entire life, looking back though, I have no regrets because I have come out a better person with my conscience clear and mentally trying hard to heal.

Split Second.

“Magic is created in split seconds and dreams are shuttered in split seconds”

I dreamt last night that I had no leg, in other words I was using a prosthetic leg for support to move in one of my legs. In the dream, I was wondering how I had got to that point. And also realising that there’s nothing I could do to change that fact, wishing I was in a dream so I could wake up healthy, but also realising in the dream that am not in a dream, confusing ha? In a split second, my life unexpectedly turned upside down! Confused with disbelief I had to figure out how to still be useful to others and how I was going to be the best at what I do with a prosthetic leg.

Mistakes and bad things happen to us in a split second. You lose your concentration for one second and it’s enough to change your whole life upside down. In the dream I wasn’t born walking with a prosthetic, I only got it at around 34. Good news is I woke up fine and had both my legs, phew! God is great.

This teaches me that we need to live every moment to the fullest without regret. We don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow so every second counts. Every second could change your life. Magic is created in split seconds and dreams are shuttered in split seconds therefore we need to stay concentrated and stay focused in everything we do because every split second counts.

FIFA Women’s Football Convention 2019.

“Dreams do come true, I dreamt of this moment”

Am humbled to be amongst a strong line up of speakers at the First ever FIFA Women’s Football Convention in Paris, France from June 6th to June 7th, 2019 ahead of the Eighth Edition of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Convention will assemble leaders from the world of football and politics for the first time, to discuss key issues around the development and empowerment of women in football.

Dreams do come true, I dreamt of this moment and can’t believe I have the opportunity. I am so excited and still can’t believe that I will be speaking at the first ever Women’s Football Convention. Women football growth is one of the key issues I’ve been so vocal about, what an honour this is! Still can’t put it into words.

Will be speaking about empowerment through football and education of women and girls around the World.

Follow all action live on FIFA TV https://www.youtube.com/user/FIFATV and FIFA YouTube channel.

What I Missed Out Doesn’t Matter.

“Life for me is not about being comfortable anymore”

Looks like everyone of my old classmates is getting married yet on my side, I feel my priorities have changed from the 21 year old who fancied to get married and have kids.

My priorities are now to be a great woman of purpose to the world. For now am focused on working to learning as much as I can and developing. Hopefully everyone else has gone through this stage in their life. There’s a way sport makes you obsessed to succeed and other things become second options.

My life has been in stages, I wonder if everyone of you is just like me? At the age of 8 – 16, I never had clear opportunities to anything. My only passion was football which was a sport for the boys then. Should have learned more at my golden age but I don’t regret anymore of what I should have had then because I had no opportunities, it was out of my control and I understand that now. I stopped looking at how things should have been in the past, what I missed out doesn’t matter. I now concentrate on making the future great because it’s the only thing have power to change.

17 – 21, Age of school and adolescence, figuring out life, I don’t remember much apart from studying around that age. At 22-24, I felt I wanted kids, don’t know why I did,thinking of it now feels so awkward.

At 25- 26, am now not ashamed of who I-am anymore. I trust I have the power to be great and I understand I have to work very hard to achieve even half of the things I want to achieve. Am determined, I have to push my limits. Life for me is not about being comfortable anymore. I want to be successful and leave an impact in people’s hearts.

Yesterday

“I was imagining the police would find me lying on the ground bleeding”

Yesterday I missed home again! Had stayed indoors all day so went out for a drive to feel the breeze. Parked in the usual car park, left the keys under the car tyre, I usually do when I go running because I hate running with anything in my pockets :).

I crossed the road into the football field, It was late around 7 pm. I walked slowly, hands in my pockets feeling the nice cold breeze on my face. My plan was to walk until I find one of the middle benches in the field, I had lots of thoughts in my head. With the latest stabbings in the UK, I kept imagining someone coming to stab me in the back, I was imagining the pain. I had no phone on me as I had decided to leave it in my car. I was imagining the police would find me lying on the ground bleeding and they won’t know who I am as I also had no identification, my pockets were empty.

I imagined lots of things happening to me in that short space of time, how useless I felt and honestly lots of other nasty stuff. On approaching the seventh bench in the field I decided to stop and sit down. It’s at this moment that I realised I had pictured myself sitting on this bench before I had actually sat on it. I usually picture moments in my head and try to make them real and this was one of them. I also pictured myself writing this when got back home and here I am writing…

After a couple of runs, got back to the car feeling a lot better, okay truth is I miss people, real people. I think ever since I moved to the UK I have occasionally missed being around people(I mean family and friends) tho last year in December it was worse. I didn’t heal till I spoke to the doctor by the way and for the first time, I realised such illnesses exists.

The lesson is don’t judge anyone by their actions before you find out the reason behind their actions. Everyone has real struggles including the celebrities we envy, everyone has baggage. We should try to be helpful and offer help to others where we can if they do ask. You don’t know if you are someone’s hope by listening to them, picking their phone call, kissing them, smiling at them or helping them out in one way or the other.

I was listened to by the doctor in December and am better now. I want to help so many others get better by sharing my true story on a big stage one day. I dream of that moment over and over again in my head where I will wear my suit, medium size, high heels (if I’ve learnt how to walk in them by then) and nice black hair with millions tuned in online and many others sitted in the room listening to my true story…

Learning to Speak

’The woman I’ve become is someone not afraid to speak up’

Tactics and technics are all I’ve studied this year. I like being the best at everything I do and what a year I’ve had so far. I have learnt that we all have plans but God puts a final stamp for all to happen. Growing up in Uganda I will say I wasn’t as bold as I am now. Moving to the UK has changed me so much and maybe more than a little for the better.

I have learnt to speak up and not to say nonsense but to use everything I have to create change and do the right thing. I have learnt to be bold and ask for what I want without fear. I have learnt to say No to the things I don’t deserve and I still wonder at times how I got to be this bold.

I keep imagining the things I could have had but lost because I was too scared to ask. Now days seems as though you can’t get anything from someone who is not a friend or who doesn’t know you so will say I have learnt to make a lot of friends. (It’s important to have as many friends and contacts as you can my fellow friends) It’s becoming a necessity or you will forever not be seen. Seems as tho the people walking the road to greatness are all in the same circle of friends. But that’s just my view. If you left out, get your own microphone and speak up. Use all the platforms you have to send your message to the world however much they see you as mad and irritating. Always try to find the right balance of everything you do so you don’t put people off but same time you give them enough.

Right now am into the real world and the thought of becoming something great is fascinating me more every day. The woman I’ve become is someone not afraid to speak up. I won’t lie at times am still scared of saying certain things just like one would have a conscience but am not the shy Ugandan girl anymore. I want to speak at the world stage and inspire so many young girls and boys out there in the world. Football changed my life and however much I have a love-hate relationship with it in terms of playing it, my love to use football to change lives has always been more than just love.

Today

’praying that the best in me will be seen and put to great use by the onlookers’

It’s my birthday today And just like all of us, you always feel like it’s a special day and you want to do the things you love, be with the people you love, have a good meal and I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. I mean am 26 now but I don’t know when I last celebrated a decent birthday!

Today it’s hit me more than other days I don’t wanna sound like a crying baby but I really miss being around people I love. It’s on days like these that you need something new and exciting to happen. I pray to be a strong woman in the world , for the sacrifices I have made already that have prevented me from having a perfect life right now I pray that the Lord will lead me through so I can be able to achieve one of my greatest dreams to give meaning, hope and be an inspiration to many young footballers to achieve their dreams

I don’t want today to end, wishing I can have one big surprise before the day ends but you know, am thinking too much. Let me continue to live and grow into an exemplary lady, praying that the best in me will be seen and put to great use by the onlookers. Thank you to all who have wished me a happy birthday so far.

Silent Stars

‘Everyone else was seeing random girls having a go at playing the game in a small setting but for me, I was seeing future stars in the making’

I can’t believe it’s been years since I had this dream to see numerous girls Inspired to play football, Of course, I’ve always told my story of how I started playing at eight years old. I didn’t have the opportunity to any quality coaching or a chance of playing in any competitive match at an early age. I didn’t even know anyone to look up to who had succeeded In the footballing world in my country Uganda. well, I guess they were there but I didn’t know of any at the time. It’s not like nowadays where young girls have a lot of role models to look up to for example the USA where the Women’s National Soccer team players like Alex Morgan, Carly Lloyd are home stars. Many other countries have role models in the Women’s game name in Australia Sam Kerr who the young girls are madly in love with, England Steph Houghton, few African players like Janine Van Wyk from South Africa and Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala who has been consistent since breaking through and is a three-time African player of the year. These are stars well known around the world and their success is an inspiration to the young girls to show them that football is more than just a game and can change their lives.

A Subject extremely close to my heart, After having visited a lot of communities for a few years, I realised that there is a lot of desire for the game. These players are silent stars that no one had seen yet or even given the opportunity.

So I come up with the idea of a tournament for the girls to play for the first time and experience what the game is like. This has been the most rewarding experience not just for the players bpassions all who are involved. The Sseninde women’s development cup is the tournament we started to give a chance to the women to play football and express themselves. The feeling I had in my heart seeing the girls play in the First game of the tournament during the first edition I can’t explain it till today, I couldn’t believe that the dream had come to life.

The fact that a number of girls get opportunities from this tournament is rewarding for example, after the first Edition of the tournament, some girls got opportunities to education after being spotted by various institutions, schools and universities. Others were selected for the Uganda Woman Elite League. Our biggest testimony so far is Nalukenge Juliet who is currently playing on the Uganda Women’s National Football Team and participated in our first Edition of the tournament.

I look back now and I remember we had invited some dignitaries in the footballing community who never turned up for the first edition, they were probably thinking there’s no point taking time out to come and see young girls running with a ball. Everyone else was seeing random girls having a go at playing the game in a small setting but for me, I was seeing future stars in the making. Currently, we have hosted three Editions and the emotions I see in these girls is what keeps me wanting to do this year after year.

Doesn’t go without saying that this has been one of the biggest platforms for me to speak out to the girls through my actions and show them how football can change their lives. Is it not funny that I have failed to give a proper speech for three years in a row however much I have prepared? I have failed to express my words in a speech. Maybe this project means so much to me and I end up failing to communicate through words and a lot easier through my actions. I have seen teams who have come with players that had never even played a football game before but currently have developed so much. My aim is to see the number of girls playing football increasing and for them to know how special this game is.

we’ve seen girls who are stars participate In this tournament but no one had ever given them a chance to play, these are silent stars who are looking for opportunities, they have a passion for the for the Game but don’t know where to start. The tournament is not just about winning trophies alone. It’s about giving a chance to women with dreams but without opportunities and with that I mean the young referees, female photographers, volunteers and others around the game who want to be involved in one way or another.

It’s about empowering women to have a voice and to stand up for what’s right, to inspire others and to have the values of football in their heart. Not being able to officiate in a World Cup or to play in the top league of your country doesn’t mean you’re not good enough. We are the Silent Stars the world is yet to see. Living in today and fighting off all the challenges that are never-ending.

To the young girls who have participated in the tournament and those who haven’t got the opportunity yet to play but have endless passion, to the team of volunteers that have been with us from edition one up to now, you are my greatest stars of all time.

Redefining A Hospital

’sometimes we help others to hospitals yet we are the patients’

According to Google, a hospital is an institution providing medical and surgical treatment and nursing care for sick or injured people. when I was little I knew no such thing as google so I simply knew it as a place where sick people go to receive treatment. Have you ever gone into a hospital and looked at all the sick people laying down helplessly on these beds? You know sometimes I wonder what goes on in their minds because maybe they feel too much pain. Sometimes the doctors have failed to find what exactly is the problem so they’re just laying down for days, months maybe a year without hope, how sad!
I think hospitals can be a very lonely place. Imagine lying there alone, so many thoughts going through your mind while you look at the painted walls. Back home in Uganda, there is this big hospital, so many sick people report in and some of them don’t even have the money for treatment so they wait, imagine watching your loved one slowly by slowly going away when there’s nothing you can do because you don’t have the money to help them…
My kind of hospital is a little different, I think we’re all patients in various ways but stay brave, we stay away from hospitals and try to be our own doctors. A couple of days ago I injured my hamstring and decided to go obviously to see the doctor, I was given time off to rest and I stayed indoors every day for the whole duration with difficulty to walk for the first few days. I got better physically As the pain went down. I also used the time to reflect on myself and my life, the more I had more lonely thoughts I realised I was getting worse and worse! I thought to myself maybe I am more of a patient than I ever Imagined. All alone lying in bed day by day.. thoughts increasing in my head about my dreams, doubts, fears, insecurities, all the bad and little of the good And then the routine suddenly becomes of thoughts, sleep and tears! How being alone can make you think of a thousand things in a second than you can actually do an entire lifetime.
We are all patients whether your illness is loneliness, Insecurities, fears, heartbreak Joblessness, Addiction, Worry and so many other sicknesses we ignore day to day. These kinds of sicknesses cannot be healed in hospitals and yet they can kill us slowly, So I thought we should redefine a hospital. This is a place within our hearts where we find joy, peace and heal emotionally, where we can get help and have peace of mind. Your hospital could be speaking to someone, praying, joining study groups, counselling, being happy in your own skin(being confident ), letting go of people who are of bad influence in our lives and others. Sometimes we help others to the hospital yet we are the patients ourselves. In my interpretation, I conclude redefining Hospital as the place within your heart where you can find peace emotionally and physically.

Cover Girl

‘Be the cover girl of your own book’

At times in life we become too focused on achieving success and we forget to appreciate the little things that we have achieved

Sometimes we become so fixed on getting that exact something and forget that at times other options could be better

I have learnt that just because you’re not the covergirl on a magazine or the headline in a newspaper doesn’t mean you are not worth talking about . I also know that just because you haven’t played in a World Cup or the Olympics or even won any accolades doesn’t mean you not a legend in your own way.

At times we may think that we are trying and being persistent but maybe we are doing it the wrong way I think the best thing is to pray for God’s favour and that the timing will be right.

Sometimes I do imagine a world where all the bosses are women , so that all those women who have had to sacrifice their bodies to get to the top positions in this world didn’t have to do it. At times u gotta do what you gotta do I understand, these are just the facts and let’s not shy away from them , personally I call it rape even tho its different. The issue of equality is still a big problem and the best day will be when everyone will be willing to address the issue so that everyone in this world will be on board and understand why it’s important for women to have a sit at the table

I’ve also learned that let’s not let many things of this world stress us so much things , things like how many Facebook likes you’re going to get, how many Instagram likes you’re going to get, how many people are going to read your blog etc because The right people will always like the things you do weather they are on Facebook Instagram or Twitter so never worry about that

Lastly ,there are so many things that are going to worry us each day, like being jobless , family issues, debts, our dreams/ambitions and everything else . we have to avoid these things from getting to our minds because at times we don’t have the power to control them . What we can do is to Avoid thinking ahead of ourselves and to always trust the Lord , to take each day as it comes and take one step at a time

let’s learn to be happy in our own skin regardless of anything , we are beautiful, we are enough and just because no one tells you how beautiful you doesn’t mean you are not.

Be the cover girl of your own book .