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From Ball Boy To Rugby Cranes: The Inspiring Story Of Joseph Oyet

Empty Rwenzori water bottles used to improvise as rugby balls for a young Joseph Oyet and friends who always turned out very early to play at the Kyadondo pitch.

Reflecting on those childhood days, Oyet says that it was always more “fun when it had rained.”

Little could he imagine that that fun would later pay bills, and few could even predict that Oyet can turn into a household name.

Nurtured on the Kyadondo grass, Oyet’s story can make a good Hollywood script.

Joseph Oyet (first right) back then. Courtesy

In the Beginning…

Oyet was born on February 2 1996 to Eromina Ayero and Faustino Okello at Mulago Hospital.

“Well, my family comes from the North, that’s Pader district in a town called Acholibur but I was born and raised in Kampala,” Oyet speaks with pride when talking about his family background.

The last born from a family of seven adds that his father Okello (passed on this year in March) made it ease for him to join sports through encouraging him to go and play.

He always went to Kyadondo and played with his friends, and when there are games, he could work as a ball boy.

Then, Oyet was staying at Nakawa Quarters in 2010.

“I was once a ball boy and water boy,” he confesses. “On game days when Heathens or the national team was playing always, I had that one player I used to admire and I could keep his kit bag, hold his pair of boots and water bottle.”

“I should say that I used to admire most of these Heathens players, those are fond memories I cannot forget.”

Some of his childhood friends that have gone on to make it as well include Aaron Ofoyrwoth, Kevin Kerimundu, Philip Wokorach, Robert Masendi, Jasper Ochen, Saidu Atibu and current Heathens team manager Saddam Geoffrey.

Growing up, Oyet says that he used to admire his elder brother Chris Lubanga who has since inspired him join Heathens team.

“Lubanga is one of the unsung heroes and he has been able to represent Uganda in both 7s and 15s,” Oyet comments. “I also used to love Benon Kizza’s style of play but my bro is the one who kept me going and I am so happy to be playing with him on the same team.”

Showing Early Signs

Oyet’s serious Rugby Career started taking shape in 2004 at Kyadondo through the tag rugby Program – Age grade or Totos rugby.

He went on to represent his school Mbuya Primary school and Kyadondo Totos during the tag rugby tournaments organized by Tag Rugby Trust.

He went through the ranks, played for Kololo SSS, Tigers (Junior Team based at Kyadondo), Stallions and represented Uganda U19 team on various occasions.

Oyet says: “My best rugby moment has been winning the U19 tier 1B tournament which was held at Kyadondo in 2014 after winning we were promoted to tier 1A.”

His main breakthrough came in 2013 when he joined Uganda’s most successful club Heathens from the club’s feeder team Stallions.

“It was a big achievement after I put in a good shift for Stallions for two seasons,” Oyet remembers.

Then, Oyet had been promoted to the senior team alongside other teammates Eddie Kayima, Ben Okello, Allan Omoding and Eric Nyeko.

Rise and Rise

His first season was not going to be easy but he was determined to pay back coach Brian Tindikawa for trusting him with hard work.

The competition for places limited his time but the fullback had at times to switch positions with Pillip Wokorach at the wings.

In his first season in 2013, Heathens managed to defend the league title, first for the young Oyet. Oyet, who played for Warriors in 2018/19 before returning to Heathens, has won four league championships with the league’s record winners.

Joseph Oyet in action. Courtesy

One of his best career highlights include scoring the only try as Hima Cement Heathens edged Stanbic Black Pirates at the 2019 Uganda Cup semifinal at Kings Park.

He was first called to the national team in 2017 when Uganda, under coach Robert Sseguya, was preparing to play in Elgon Cup.

“The list of the players summoned to the National team was pinned on the notice board at Kyadondo,” Oyet on how he found out that he was summoned on the national team for the first time.

“I was a bit nervous but most of the players are the ones that I used to play with Tag Rugby and whom I had gone through with the ranks.

“This just made it easy for me to fit into the team and it gave me the confidence to overcome the challenge that was ahead of me.”

Early this year, Oyet received the bad news of his Father’s death after playing a game against Rams!

“I couldn’t even celebrate the win but it was time to accept the bitter truth and this will always be the darkest moment of my life.”

His second stint with Heathens has seen Oyet establish himself as one of the most feared player in the league.

The league was halted after 13 games with Heathens on top of the log thanks to Oyet’s 87 points. He had scored eight tries, only bettered by teammate Lawrence Sebuliba and Daudi Semwami (Betway Kobs) with 9.

Oyet who is looking forward to play outside Uganda like Philip Wokorach, says that it has been determination, discipline and hard work that has brought him this far.

Did You Know

  • Joseph Oyet also plays Cricket and represents Aziz Damani in the Uganda National Cricket League.
  • He was nicknamedMC’ by his friends in high school and they still call him that. “During my high school I was a peep star and most of my friends loved the jazz that I used to share with them.”
  • He won the 2014 U-19 Safari 7s and 2015 U-19 tier B African winners

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