The word ‘greatest’ has always caused a big debate, whether it’s politics, movies, songs etc.
Its in Sports where it has created the biggest stir, as many have taken the matters personal hence end up soiling the achievements of the competitors at the expense of their favourites.
Who deserves the tag of the greatest sports franchise in Uganda? Can we start this debate?
Spoiler alert: This is an opinion that has been zeroed down on team’s successes locally and outside Uganda.
Ranking various teams from different sports spheres is more difficult as comparing players of different generations.
But at the end of the day, modern sports has been narrowed down to achievements.
Achieving more may lean towards a team’s longevity (having been around for some good time) but some younger teams have come out and broken records.
5. Nemostars (Volleyball)
KAVC may lay claim as the greatest Volleyball club, with their history tracing back since 1975. However, the emergence of Nemostars, inspired by an iconic George Aporu, has made the debate invalid.
Formed recently in 2005, Nemo showed their intentions known when they won the Jinja Open a year later.
But they were made to wait until they won their first National Volleyball League title in 2012 when they beat Nkumba 3-1 in the final playoffs series under coach Anthony Ndawula.
Nemo have went on to win the league in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019 as well.
In 2013, Nemo became the first men’s club to represent Uganda at the Confederation of African Volleyball Men’s Club Championship – They finished 11th out of 18 clubs.
Last year, the side finished 6th at the continent, the best ever place for a Ugandan club. In a campaign highlighted by financial struggles, Nemo lost to Libya’s Al Ahly Tripoli in the semifinals.
Did You Know – The 2019 league final between Nemo and Sport-S was halted at 1-1: Sport-S wrote to the Federation (UVF) that they will not honour the decider, citing unfairness and Match-Fixing.
4. City Oilers (Basketball)
Seven years back, Ugandan basketball was synonymous with Falcons, Power and Warriors mainly.
The formation of City Oilers, who won the UCU Invitational Basketball tournament two years later, changed the song.
The Oilers, in their first season in top flight, beat then record winners Falcons to win the National Basketball League in 2013, the first team to achieve the milestone since the inaugural season.
The following year, they swept Power 4-0 in the best of seven finals, edged UCU Canons in 2015 after pulsating game seven, and have added four more on the trot beating Power (2016), KIU (2017), Power (2018) and UCU (2019).
Their seven unprecedented championships (and still counting) make them the record league winners. Falcons, who last tested league crown in 2007, remain on six.
They have had some of the best players to have graced Ugandan basketball including Jimmy Enabu, Jeff Omondi and Ben Komakech, not to mention Rwanda’s Kami Kabange and Burundi’s Landry Ndikumana.
Their success story has been attributed to the funding from parent company City Oil (Mandela group).
Coach Mandy Juruni has been a great pillar for the team. He had previously won the league with Warriors in 2012, not to add other Women titles with KCCA (2), UCU and JKL.
They have won the FIBA Africa Zone five championship twice (back to back), including the one in 2017 on home soil.
Oilers finished 9th on their debut season on the continent in 2016 – FIBA Africa Clubs Champions Cup and came 5th the following year after impressive wins against ASB New Generation, Kano Pillars, GS Petroliers and Ferroviário da Beira.
Did You Know – The club has not been at the wrong end of a playoff series since coming into existence.
3. Heathens (Rugby)
Heathens’ beginning can be traced back in the 1960s when the club was formed as a second team for Blackheath Rugby Club, a rugby club from the England which was affiliated to Kampala Rugby Club.
Heathens, made up of mostly whites, was disbanded in 1972 following then president Idi Amin’s order to kick out expatriates.
The club was later resurrected in 1985, and like they say, the rest is history.
Their history include a first league title in 1991 and have since amassed a record 14. KOBs come second with 12 with Pirates and Impis have won one each!
They won five straight titles between 2009 and 2013 and have had some of the best stars Uganda has ever seen like Alex Mubiru, Robert Sseguya, Tolbert Onyango and Brian Tabaruka etc.
Heathens are also the record Uganda Cup winners with 11 titles – They won the opening six seasons from 1999 until 2004.
Did You Know – Alex Mubiru has won 10 league titles with Heathens Rugby Club
2. SC Villa (Football)
The most successful football team in Uganda, without doubt.
Formed in 1975 as Nakivubo Boys, the club won its first league title in 1982 which was their fourth attempt. Since then, they are the record league winners with 16 titles.
Their story include seven titles in a row between 1998 to 2002. They had a five-peat in the late 1980s, as well.
On the international scene, Villa reached the final of the 1991 African Cup of Champions Clubs, the second club to achieve the milestone after Simba in 1972.
Villa beat African powerhouses like Al-Merriekh and Al-Ahly before falling to Club Africain after two legs in the final.
The club has been home to many stars including the legendary Magid Musisi, William Nkemba, Ronnie Vvubya among others.
Despite lacking a permanent home, Villa remains the most supported football team in the country.
However, a series of scandals that include fans hooliganism, top management rows, match fixing allegations highlighted by a 22-1 win over Akol in 2002, have tainted the club’s image.
The side last won the league in 2004, and their football records are being threatened by KCCA FC who have won 13 leagues.
Did You Know? Villa’s last major titles was the 2015 Uganda Cup, which was their 9th. They have also won CECAFA club championship three times (1987, 2003 & 2005).
1. NIC (Netball)
And the title goes to – National Insurance Corporation (NIC) Netball Team.
Netball – just like Athletics and Boxing – is one sport where Uganda has proved superior than most of other countries.
Netball at the local scene was initially dominated by teams like Police, Posta, Railways among others before NIC won it’s first championship in 1999.
They went on to win the league until 2012 when they were stopped by Prisons. Last year, the side clinched their 17th league title (other sources claim 19, though).
NIC have won the East Africa Netball Championship for a record 19 times.
Did You Know – NIC has won the National Netball Rally since 1995, only missed in 2007 when they lost to URA in Luwero.
Honorable Mention – Wananchi team (Hockey)
Hockey is not a popular sport in Uganda, but that has not hindered Wananchi’s dominance.
With records in shade, sources have it that the side won its first league title in 1987.
Weatherhead (2017) and Rockets (2009) have managed to stand in their way since then. The Women’s side has equally been dominant.
Did you know – Wananchi had four players on the Uganda hockey team that played in 1972 Olympics in Munich (Germany). Field Hockey is the first TEAM sport in Uganda to participate at the Olympics.
Special mention – Tornado Cricket Club