Veteran Photographer Mpalanyi Ssentongo and Writer Andrew Mwanguhya bagged the top accolades at the inaugural Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA) media Excellence Awards.
The Awards were held on Wednesday at Imperial Royale Hotel as the USPA, an umbrella body that brings Sports Journalists in the country, rewarded Sports Journalism excellence.
New Vision’s Mpalanyi was honoured with the Andrew Luwandaga Award (Lifetime Service), an award in recognition of passion and excellence to a journalist who contributed to the field of Sports Journalism through their career.
The awards were hosted by Desire Dereckford Mugumisa and Aminah Babirye, with the winners decided by a panel of judges and USPA Executive Committee.
Mpalanyi received a standing ovation as he walked onto the stage to the song of ‘Chikobombe, Owamanyi aje tubonge’ amidst cheers of respect, approval and contentment from fellow journalists.
It was a deserved choice for Mpalanyi whose longevity and commitment has inspired many to join the industry.
“I would like to thank USPA for picking me,” started Mpalanyi whose speech was delayed by a minute to give him time to recollect his emotions.
“I joined USPA in 1990, that is when I got my USPA ID,” Mpalanyi stated, a revelation which was recieved by applause.
“I remember in 1992 when I travelled in Tanzania for a Uganda Cranes match. I travelled as a fan not as a journalist because I was not attached to any organisation then. I had my small camera and I managed to take a few photos.
“Then during a local game here at Nakivubo, one of my colleagues asked to see the photos that I had taken of the Victorious Uganda Cranes campaign there, and he was impressed.
“He took me to the New Vision office, direct to then Sports editor Mr Sepuuya who praised my work and asked to pay me for the photos. I expected sh500 but he gave me Sh3000 for each and the rest is history. I never looked back, I learnt on the job and I have been at New Vision ever since.
“I was supposed to retire in 2019, but the bosses requested me to stay.”
Mpalanyi, besides the plaque, won himself a trip and night for two in Mombasa – All fully paid by Uganda Airlines and Pride In (Flamingo) Hotels for his best achievement.
Mwanguhya’s ‘Satellite Media’ story Recognised
Arguably and without doubt, the best Sports Story of the year.
Andrew Mwanguhya of the Daily Monitor (Nation Media) took home the Kevin Aliro Award (Investigative Sports Report) award for his story of ‘Records Link Magogo to FUFA Broadcasting System’ article which was published on July 13 2021.
The investigative piece, as its title, put evidence including those from URSB, on table, linking the ownership of broadcasting TV Satelites System media to FUFA President Moses Magogo which by law is a violation of the FIFA code of ethics.
His story beat Work-mate Makhtum Muziransa (No Silver lining in NCS, FUBA row) and New Vision’s Shafic Senoga’s piece titled ‘Time to fight match fixing’.
Mwanguhya started his speech by thanking Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo and Mark Namanya who are his current and former editors respectively.
He commended Daily Monitor’s sub editor Jacobs Odong Seaman for “pushing me” and described him as the “best you ever get” before revealing that the story took them about three weeks to compile.
Commenting about his piece, Mwanguhya who also works on NTV Press box stated: “The story is about transparency and accountability. As journalists, we need to explain things to people if you have your facts and let the world tell, and that is what I set to do.”
“Normally TV deals are public information, I did this story because of a broadcasting company that produces content for FUFA Women Leagues, Uganda Cup and name it, but we never knew its owner and FUFA was not willing to reveal who he or she was.
“The stakeholders were telling me stories but they were fearing to come out so we had to do the deep soul searching. We collect a lot of information which we put into the story and even up to now, information still relate to FUFA President.
“All I did was to do my job, not to serve justice. And I am happy that the USPA committee saw the tenacity and awarded me with this award.”
Online media Kawowo Sports took home the Best Digital Sports Production, beating Football256 and Voice of Bugerere to the accolade.
The award was recieved by renown writer Ismael Kiyonga who acknowledged their longevity in the field that surpasses 10 years.
The Bashir Khan Lugudo Award – Best Sports News Report (TV, Print, Radio and online) went to Makhtoum Muziransa for his piece in Daily Monitor titled Mawejje’s Winter Olympics mission.
The soft spoken Muziransa dedicated the award to his five-month daughter.
George Katongole, also from Daily Monitor, took the Edirisa Mayanja Njuki award – Best Sports News Report (Print) for his story titled ‘Somali Refugees find solace in Futsal.’
Katongole, formerly an editor at Red Pepper, was delighted with the Sh1m prize and took the audience through his journey to writing the award winning piece that included walking to the field on foot.
Richard Ssanya of the New Vision took the John Ssenkubuge Award – Best Sports Photograph – for his photo of ‘a back runner affords a smile in Kapchorwa’, beating Philip Mugabi and Fred Kisekka.
Davis Mugume of Voice of America edged Sanyu FM’s Clive Kyazze and Sanyuka TV’s Solomon Ssaka to the James Opoka award – best Sports news broadcast (Radio and TV).
Mugume’s story, which he confessed that he was partly helped by Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo who was in Tokyo at the time, was about the impact of Paralympics, specifically on Uganda’s para-swimmer Husnah Kukundakwe.
The other winner on the day was former The-Sportsnation writer Timothy Kuteesa for his piece in Football256 titled: ‘Why Mutebi’s claim of making KCCA Financially independent is merely a sour grape!’ to take home The Paul Waibale Award (Sports Column Writing).
Kanyomozi Advocates for Media Freedom
In his remarks, USPA President Patrick Kanyomozi asked the security organisation to respect the journalists while doing on duty.
“We are here to celebrate sports journalism but we cannot go away without talking about media freedom,” said Kanyomozi.
“This is not political, but we request for everyone to respect journalists because it’s their job to report what they see, and if you do not want they say or write about, please do not do it.”
Kanyomozi who also thanked his ‘first lady’ Lucky Mbabazi, commended the sponsors including Nile Special, Standard Chartered, Uganda Airlines among others.
He recognised the presence of former USPA presidents at the function and also vowed not to return for another term as the USPA constitution suggests.
Brian George, the new Director of Public Affairs at the U.S. Mission Uganda, who represented Ambassador Natalie E. Brown also reaffirmed the Embassy’s commitment to advocate for media Freedom and all campaigns that will develop the media sector.
He added: “2020 and 2021 have been challenging years for the Sports sector so its fitting for USPA to end 2021 with an awards ceremony.”
“I want to congratulate USPA, if this is the first edition of these awards, its impressive and I think the program will grow in stature for the years to come.”
Leone Ssenyange, USPA Vice President, called upon more Women Participation in Sports Journalism.
Ssenyange, formerly at NTV, also confirmed that the awards were named after the fallen USPA sports scribes to recognise and appreciate their contributions.
The awards were aired live on See tv who is also an official sponsor for KCCA FC, the 13-time Uganda Premier League champions.
Journalists Web Daniel Ssebakijje and Junior Ssembatya won a bicycle each courtesy of City Tyres after a ruffle draw which was conducted when journalists were requested to put their business cards in a basket.
Nominees who did not win any accolade on the day, received StarTimes Decoders.
The Eight Winners in Summary
*Bashir Khan Lugudo Award
Best Sports News Report (TV, Radio, Print and Online) – Makhtoum Muziransa (Daily Monitor)
*The James Opoka Award
(Best Sports News Report – Broadcast – Radio and Television) – Davis Mugume (Voice of America)
*The Edirisa Mayanja Njuki Award (Best Sports News Report – Print) – George Katongole (Daily Monitor)
*The John Bugembe Ssenkubuge Award (Best Sports Photograph) – Richard Ssanya (New Vision)
*The Samuel Wossita Award
(Best Digital Sports Production – Websites, E-journal, Podcasts) – Kawowo Sports
*The Kevin Aliro Award (Investigative Sports Report) – Andrew Mwanguhya (Daily Monitor)
*The Paul Waibale Award (Sports Column Writing) – Timothy Kuteesa (Football256)
*The Andrew Luwandagga Award (Lifetime in service) – Ssentongo Mpalanyi