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Interview: Hope Akello’s Fascinating Story Of Resilience

Experiencing a plummet is often more myopically received in the Ugandan sports circles as opposed to tolerantly embracing it for the greater good and working to make manifest. Such was the case for Hope Akello in the year 2014.

The Just Kip Living (JKL) Lady Dolphins Centre narrates her ordeal highlighting the ecstasy that characterized her at the reception of a call to represent the U18 National Basketball Team in 2014 (The Gazelles) at a competition.

To her dismay however, the 2019 MVP and top rebounder didn’t manage to make the final shortlist and ultimately cried her lungs out.

Four years down the road, Akello managed to make the team and has since represented the country at several U18 and U23 International tournaments. This also goes to show that everything is possible for a person with full pulse in presence of positivity and hopefulness.

Hope Akello at USPA Awards

The massively competitive player, who made her debut for JKL in 2017 has more often than not admitted that the disappointment has accounted for her meteoric rise to prominence. Anyone that has watched her grow can with the benefit of hindsight agree with this assertion.

That aptly put, Akello’s sports career has not shadowed her professional and academic growth since she works with Osillo & Co Certified Public Accounts as an accountant and auditor. A venture worth the time.

Akello’s personal trainer coach Brian Nsambu describes her as the hardworking and committed player who possesses a unique mental ability that enables her to be tough in game situations but also has her always in the zone.

Hope Akello in action against KIU Rangers. Tsaubah Stone/FUBA photo

We further held a scintillating interaction with the charming National basketball superstar. This is what she had for us:

SportsNation: Besides basketball, which other sport did you try out?
Akello: (Giggles loudly) I honestly don’t know!.. I really don’t. I love swimming, I just don’t think I am as good at it as I am with basketball. (giggles again….)

SportsNation: What is your best and worst moment as a basketball player?
Akello: Ahhh.. Best part has to definitely be representing Uganda at any major tournament. It’s just so special in the national team jersey. Worst has always been striking a balance between academics and sports, it’s just so challenging. (And maybe losing a game)

SportsNation: Which people do you thank for your basketball career?
Akello: As one advances to different teams, every coach you encounter adds value to you and I am thankful to all the coaches that have worked with me throughout my journey. I am exceptionally grateful to coach Sam Bahwayo who introduced me to the beautiful game of basketball and the other coaches for mentoring me.

SportsNation: Who is your best friend at JKL and why?
Akello: (An easy one).. Gimono Grace. She has always been my very good friend way back from high school (laughs and scoffs at the old days)

SportsNation: Who is the funniest teammate at JKL?
Akello: Everyone is funny actually. Flirsh, Muhai, Zainah, Gigi, Eve! There is no one humble at JKL apart from myself. I have sold them out. (laughs again)

SportsNation: Who is the best player you have played with and why?
Akello: The Chinese players. They have a great size and are way too skilled that you need to at least match their size or skills to favorably compete against them.

SportsNation: Who is the hardest opponent you have faced?
Akello: The Chinese again still. They just have too much size and skill for anyone. (Throws her arms in the air in a surrender-like gesture).

SportsNation: Who is the best coach you have worked with?
Akello: I have personally never been under a bad coach. I am just blessed I guess.

SportsNation: Best game you’ve played in your career?
Akello: The 2019 NBL Finals with JKL Lady Dolphins. The manner in which we won the championship was so special. I still even remember it like it was yesterday. Just a very special moment.

SportsNation: Most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on court?
Akello: I don’t think I have one. Am not sure i honestly do. My game is always tidy.

SportsNation: If you were to form a dream team (men and women) from the league, which players would you have on your team (s) 5 each?
Akello: To be utterly honest, I can play with anyone as long as they don’t quarrel, but have a fighting spirit plus no blaming. Maturity matters!!

SportsNation: How are you balancing books and sports given that you are now taking a masters?
Akello: I just stick to my planned schedule and adjust accordingly. Compromises are so important along this road I must tell you.

SportsNation: When was your first kiss?
Akello: Laughs out loud for about 15 seconds) Ahh, you really got me here. I am definitely not saying this. My parents know I am their baby girl (laughs out again).

It is not often that we as a community get to know these athletes well enough or even explore their fun side away from the court or field. Our conversation with Akello was one headlined by a lot of humour and fun to the extremes.


Elizabeth Kisolo
Elizabeth Kisolo Nagudi is a contributor at The-SportsNation. She is also a founder of WOMEN IN SPORTS: HER SPORT. Connect with her about women in sports via [email protected]
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