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Unraveling the Story About Renor Duhaga Basketball Club

Renor Duhaga basketball had become the talk of the Basketball fraternity late 2019 and early 2020. If the team could have bought a spot in the National Basketball League, it would have been the team to watch out for.

The Women’s Division One was taken by the storm with the news of Duhaga’s participation. The women’s side had reportedly signed legends likes Ruth Scott, Flirsh Flavia, Moreen Amoding among others and a couple of rising stars.

The club had played just a number of tournaments such as KT Rach, where the girls came in 3rd position and UCU open where the men’s team finished 5th.

Just in a couple of months of excitement, the club was no more and didn’t appear on the lists from the Federation to take part in the 2021 season.

The-Sports Nation had a chat with the manager of the club, Ronnie Mutebi, on matters concerning the abrupt formation and disappearance of the “power” club.

SportsNation: Please introduce yourself and relationship to the club
Mutebi: I am Mutebi Ronnie, the manager of Duhaga Basketball Club.

SportsNation: Tell us about the origins of Duhaga
Mutebi: Duhaga was founded by the Renor Mbabazi family who are located in the Duhaga village of Hoima near Ruteba subcounty. It was founded in 2017 with the idea of growing the sport of basketball ball and other games in the upcountry regions of Hoima, Masindi, Fort portal (Basically Bunyoro-Kitara Region but we hope to expand to the entire Uganda and East Africa at large). Our goal is to grow sports and add value as we provide a platform where players can get scholarships and bursaries. We hope we shall use Duhaga to get scholarships abroad and for those that are past academic level, we hope to expose them to higher chances of getting professional clubs. The founder is Mr. Muhammad Mbabazi, a lawyer who has an ultimate goal to see at least one player play in the professional leagues abroad one day as a sport export from Uganda.

Actually, we have other sports which are netball, football, squash, tennis, and boxing. Some are still concepts but we already have the boxing z gym in Hoima and a tennis court.

SportsNation: What was the drive behind the team formation?
Mutebi: Duhaga is here to provide a platform for exposure for the young talent. This will be a marketing strategy for us as well. The boys started playing in 2019, in Division II (Formerly D league). We came in as number 3 so we didn’t meet our goal of getting promoted to Division I.
The girls team was formed in 2020 after the boys having a splendid performance that impressed administrators of the team. Our first tournament was the KT Rach and we won Bronze yet big teams were playing.

SportsNation: How do you rate your performance at the different tournaments you participated in?
Mutebi: For the boys, the performance was fair, given that our first tournament at UCU open we lost to big teams by only a point or two. For example, we lost to Power by 1 point, City oil by one point, UCU by 10 points. These teams had full squads but we had only 8 players.
The girls team I was very confident about their performance as we had former National team players and MVPs of local leagues, and more girls where reaching out to us to join the team.

SportsNation: Which Divisions will you be playing in if you resume league?
Mutebi: We definitely were going to play Division II for the men and Division I for the women. We came to this conclusion following our players advise because it’s them to play not us the management. We don’t have the greed to quickly win and go up the ladders and we want to build our success story. We give our players freedom and this is even reflected on our contract as its an open contract and your free to move once you feel like.

SportsNation: Why didn’t you participate in this year’s league games?
Mutebi: Our concern was on priority of the players. We didn’t want to reach the extent of losing players and even get sued. We weighed the benefits of playing versus not playing and we realized that the disadvantages outweighed the advantages hence we pulled out. Even most teams pulled out so we made a good discussio and there is no relegation, so we didn’t make any losses. I am actually glad my bosses took this position. If it wasn’t for COVID, we would have played. The rumors that we are broke are all not true. As a matter of fact we have privately helped a number of teams financially this season that came to seek for help from us. We believe these teams we helped will develop partnerships with us when we start implementation of activities like upcountry training and growing of the sport.

SportsNation: And the team disappeared, what happened?
Mutebi: The team didn’t disappear but COVID happened! The team is comprised of coaches, players, administrators and the COVID situation got us having a meeting with all these stakeholders and we discussed the financial situation at hand as we couldn’t solicit for funds since no games were taking place. We already had some arrears with players and didn’t want to have this growing so we had to structure. Playing in COVID times is very costly but we are assured of regrouping once COVID is nolonger an issue. As Duhaga, we are a family (not profit oriented), so we couldn’t risk players life for financial gains. Some players didn’t take it well and some teams where thinking we have run broke which is all expected. We don’t mind and we shall come back and we are back already.

SportsNation: We all actually thought you were broke!
Mutebi: If we were broke, we wouldn’t have paid FUBA for the next season. We actually demand money from FUBA. There are teams that FUBA is demanding from money from the past four years. It’s not about being broke but prioritizing life.

SportsNation: Why the collection of super players?
Mutebi: As per now, we are regrouping so I can’t guarantee who is on or who is off. And we don’t hold onto players so some may leave on their own will. For example, we have players who played this season but playing for other teams and we let them play. We do have contracts but they are flexible. We don’t want to hold players as hostages or exploit them. Our goal is to help players not exploit them.

SportsNation: What should we look forward to incase Duhaga returns?
Mutebi: First of all, we are going to be very competitive. Competitive in the context of basketball, organization and definitely we are going to form a team that is comprised of intentional players who are organized, structured and patient and believers.

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