Why Sewagudde is revered figure in Ugandan football

Sewagudde (extreme right) with other officials before a league match in 1985

During analysis of the Fifa World Cup on CBS FM over the weekend, several callers asked me to assess the level of officiating in the tournament.

Honestly, World Cup 2022 was a much improved version from previous tournaments, thanks in large part to the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology.

Personally, the high volume of inquiries reminded me of Edward Senkwangu Sewagudde, a popular Fufa grade one referee from the 1980s who was a top critique of poor officiating.

Sewagudde was not only one of the top referees at the time but he will always be remembered in Ugandan football echelons as one of the good administrators and promoters for the sport. Many referees join the trade to eke out a living but Sewagudde’s case was different; he had enough resources, including a mixed farm called Nalutaya in Lwera.

In fact, he only settled for refereeing as a passion. He was also a one-time Uganda Cranes team manager but little is known about this and his influence in the development of the game in the 1980s.

Sewagudde used his huge pockets, experience and influence to give the referees a deserved image and also helped budding referees fulfill their dreams. Oftentimes, referees and Cranes players ran to him for financial assistance. Those who were around in the 1980s could not miss the towering, light-skinned Sewagudde, either as a centre referee, or performing his duties as a refereeing instructor.

At times, he even sat on the Uganda Cranes technical bench. Despite all his contribution to the game, he passed away almost unnoticed. In fact, November 8 marked 28 years since his demise.


Back in the 1980s, Sewagudde graduated as a grade three Fufa referee. At that time, he was the CEO of NCR (U), a company which used to import and distribute computers in the country.

By the mid-eighties, he managed to attain grade one referee status and when he became a referees’ instructor, Sewagudde helped many budding referees to realize their potential.

A case in point happened was in 1987 when he played a key role to nurture the likes of Ali Tomusange, Nelson Nsubuga Mubanda and Mike Bwire, whose performance earned them Fifa badges.


In 1984, the Uganda Cranes was bundled out of the 1986 Fifa World Cup qualifiers as well as Afcon qualifiers by Zambia and Tanzania respectively. It was clear Uganda’s failure was down to lethargy in front of goal.

To boost the team’s morale, Sewagudde, as a concerned football stakeholder, donated a trophy as well as cash prize to Fufa to be given to a player who emerged overall top scorer in both local and international events. The trophy was named `Nalutaya Estates top-scorer trophy’.

Sewagudde’s effort was vindicated when goals started flowing, especially in the league. From then on, there was an avalanche of goals and saw the emergence of high-scoring strikers such as Magid Musisi, Frank Kyazze and Mathias Kaweesa, among others.


In 1986, Sewagudde was appointed Uganda Cranes team manager, replacing Joel Sekabembe. He did his work with dedication, increasing players’ remuneration and instilled discipline in the Cranes camp. In March 1987, Uganda Cranes came close to ejecting Cameroon from the 1988 Afcon qualifiers.

Having lost 1-5 away, the return leg in Kampala saw The Cranes take a 3-0 lead and needed just one goal to qualify but they conceded a late goal to end their dream.


In September, 1987, Uganda was preparing an Olympic Games qualifier against Zambia when Sewagudde learnt late starters Majid Musisi and Ronald Vubya had defied Fufa’s directive and were at Nakivubo stadium featuring for Lugave clan in Bika football tournament.

He rushed to Nakivubo and ordered the two players to leave the pitch but they defied him. He immediately announced the duo’s suspension from the national team. But due to importance of the game, Fufa pardoned them and both players scored in the 2-1 win against Zambia.

A week later, skipper John Latigo left camp without Sewagudde’s permission and was dropped in spite of several calls to pardon him. But when Uganda was walloped 0-5 in the return leg, several stakeholders blamed Sewagudde. A few days later, he threw in the towel at a press conference.


In 1990, he was appointed Bika Football Committee (BFC) secretary. He took many by surprise when in September he organized a get-together
at Seguku that had then Prince Ronald Mutebi as chief guest. The beaming Sewagudde pledged to finance more Buganda activities and also
announced his retirement from refereeing.

By 1993, Sewagudde’s health had deteriorated and he became rare at matches. He breathed his last on November 8, 1994. He will always be remembered for his selfless contribution to Ugandan football.


Source: The Observer

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