President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has revealed why he never heard of former Uganda Cranes captain Jimmy Kirunda before his demise.
Kirunda passed away on May 25, 2020 when he collapsed at Bwaise near Hotel La Grande. He was 70 years old at the time of his death.
He is considered to be one of best Uganda Cranes players ever, and he captained Uganda for about 10 years including leading the side to 1978 AFCON finals where they lost 2-0 to Ghana.
Museveni, in a statement has said that he did not comment direct on Kirunda’s death because he wa pre-occupied with fighting Covid19.
“I , actually, never heard of Kirunda until when he died. Why? It is because for 16 years, 1971-1986, we, the freedom fighters, were cut off from and we were not concentrating on the pleasure and leisure activities that were going on in Uganda,” he explained.
“Being a footballer myself, I used to avidly follow, not only the news about football in East Africa, but I would follow up all the sports, especially, athletics. I would know all the names such as the boxers, Seruwagi and Tom Kawere. The latter got a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, at Cardiff, in Wales, UK. Sprinters like the Goan from Kenya, Serafino Antao. Footballers like Kadenge of Kenya and David Otti of Uganda.
“This, however, was up to 1966 when Uganda entered into the political crisis of un-constitutionalism. Right from that time up to 1986, my antennas for pleasure and leisure were switched off and attention went to the struggle.
“I would only pick up a few extra-ordinary performances by East African sports persons such as Kipchoge Keino, with a record for 1500metres in Mexico City, 1968, I think, Akii Bua’s 400 meters hurdles record in the Munich Games, 1972 and a Tanzanian Army Officer, Filbert who won the marathon for one of the Olympic events. Hence, I had never heard of our Kirunda, the footballer.”
Kirunda played in three Africa Cup of Nations tournaments (1974, 1976 and 1978) and also won the Cecafa cup in 1969, 1970, 1973, 1976 and 1977. He also won the CECAFA as Cranes manager thrice.
He was the topscorer in the 1978 Uganda Premier League, scoring 32 goals, despite being a defender.
He played for Express FC (1968-69), KCCA FC (1969-1979), Abu Dhabi sports club, SC Villa among others.
Consequently, Museveni has asked the Ministry of Education to compile all the exemplary Ugandan sports performers at the African continental level, the commonwealth or the Olympics.
He said: “Anybody that won a gold, silver or bronze medal, should be rewarded whether alive or dead. If dead, the family can benefit.”