Meet the man who introduced blind football to Uganda
The first time he kicked a ball about in Uganda, David Mugisha was about to take a break from training on a football field near his home in Namutumbi when his vision was partially obscured by the sun.
“But I realised something important was happening,” Mugisha, who now serves as the head coach of the Uganda national football team, tells The Malay Mail Online.
He suddenly realised that all the players gathered around were using their arms and hands to kick the ball even though they couldn’t see their hands. “It was a huge revelation for me. I learnt immediately how important it is to bring sight to the game and I made the connection then why vision was so important,” he says.
Mugisha became aware of sight issues in football during his schooldays in rural Namutumbi as there was no training venue in the town itself. His family had an existing soccer field in the village, but that wasn’t a place where they could play.
“My parents had an old soccer field that was not even properly maintained, so when the football season arrived, you could see on the pitch a lot of waste matter and mud. We had no shelter to escape the scorching heat,” he says.
“I remember seeing a player wearing a hat and glasses. I asked a coach about the player and he told he was blind in one eye.”
“As a result I decided to make a difference to the sight of players. The first time I kicked a football, I was using my left foot. There were 10 players surrounding us and they were practising with their left feet,” he adds.
“The coach told me to kick with my right foot and I went on to teach my fellow players this because we noticed that blind people were being overlooked in the game. They couldn’t see, so we started trying to get sighted players into our games.