By Edward Tumusiime
In the exclusive interview with one of their unswerving defenders who is about to make 31 years in three days, Mike Kawooya discusses his contribution to the team, expectations in the second round, including his shirt number 87. Kawooya has also opened up about his views regarding the first round, critics and what sports he would play if not football.
The gigantic center back who is remembered for scoring and influencing a goal when Arua Hill SC beat UPDF FC 3-2 in the first leg of the 2020/2021 Uganda Cup was born on the 15/05/1990 in Wobulenzi, Luwero District and began his career in Busia with Busia Hoima FC, he has also played for Water FC, Mutundwe Lions, Kakamega Home Boys, BUL FC, Busoga United, Tooro United before joining Arua Hill in 2020.
In addition to sports, Kawooya is a strong believer in Christ and Basketball fans. Kawooya who trained today at Barifa with Arua Hill SC team preparing to travel for two away StarTimes FUFA Big League fixtures on Thursday morning spoke with club writing and publication manager Joel Jolikiba Anguyo from the team’s camp.
Q: How does it feel that you are adding another year in the few days to come?
A: I want to thank God for the gift of life because many have died and many are sick but at least he has enabled me to be alive up to date. Actually, I’m very glad about that and I don’t have any bad feeling about it.
Q: Do you see yourself contributing so much to the team with your maturity and experience?
A: I contribute but the truth is, it’s all about working as a team. Because however good I may be, I can’t do more than a team, we all have to work as a team, that’s how we can do the best.
Q: What do you believe you brought to and can still bring to the team?
A: I brought my services actually, the experience I have and I have played for some good time. I’m very much sure of the services I provide or the seniority because the truth is, I’ve played this league (Big League) for some good time including the super league of which it has given me some experience and I know how much I can handle and how to handle the situation.
The priority is to make efforts for the team to qualify to the top flight and what I can add on is working harder. Though we’ve conceded lousily in the previous round, I don’t want that to continue in the coming round. We conceded some lousy penalties but the good enough damage is not the worst. I am very much sure this will not repeat in the second round with much hard work,
Q: What would you change if you could replay the first round?
A: Nothing. Reason being, it’s God that decides. We can’t change the past but we can change the future.
Q: Why do you think the local support and fan base is important to the team’s future?
A: The local fans and the supporters are vital and we need them. They boost, they give us the courage and they add confidence especially when they mention names. As long as they talk positively, it gives courage but even if negative it propels one to do more to disapprove the critics and to impress those who speak positively.
Q: How did you stay motivated after drawing the games with Maroons, Mbale Heroes and Gaddafi FC?
A: We stayed motivated because we knew we could do better. We knew we shall do better in the return leg. We were frustrated with the results from Gaddafi’s game because we relaxed a bit hence, they equalized in the late minute. But we stayed motivated knowing that at least it’s not yet over until we meet again.
Q: How do you deal with the pressure of having to perform in a competitive group (Elgon Group)?
A: The pressure of course exists. Most people didn’t expect it to be competitive. I’m quite sure they looked at Maroons and Gaddafi and these other clubs before they didn’t know what we are capable of. But when they realized the signed players and our performance, they woke up to the fact that we are the real team. So, that attracts pressure but we are able to control it with the way we play our games.
Q: How do you channel your frustration when the referee’s decision doesn’t go your way (referring to the penalty awarded to Mbale Heroes in Mbale and Calvary FC in Barifa)?
A: With football rules, it’s not like a physically fighting battle or when someone makes a wrong decision, it ends in physical harm. When the referee awards an unnecessary penalty, it’s a matter of controlling emotions because not all penalties awarded ends in a goal. So, it’s a matter of trusting the goal keeper and waiting how the result will be. Incase the goal gets in, you strategize on a comeback
Q: How do you plan to deal with a circumstance in future in case you get benched?
A: I don’t have any problem with that. Not every benched player is bad, it’s just that there are some bad days in the office which is normal. Besides not all days are going to be bad, there is going to be some good days so if you are benched it is still cool
Q: Do you have any rituals that you must perform before a game and why?
A: Apart from prayers, there are no other rituals that can be done. Only praying to God.
Q: What did you feel was the highpoint of the first round?
A: The game with Maroons may have ended in a draw but it was helpful. It was on a high tensity. They didn’t expect us to play the way we did. It gave us courage that we could do better than that.
Even against the Paidha Black Angels, the way Kawawa helped us was amazing. The Paidha team was not as experienced as the Maroons. Most of the Maroons players were mixed in age and good in tactics. We needed the points from the Paidha game but the other also was crucial, though a point was not bad. We did celebrate the three points from Paidha and the effort Kawawa put in.
Q: What advice would you give to young players who are yet to feature this season?
A: They should work hard, believe in themselves. I’m very much sure goodness is on their side. They should also add respect.
Q: How did your team work together?
A: Before the season kicked off, we were brought together as a team earlier. Most players knew each other before, you find clusters of three players were familiar with each other so that together created a platform for easy bonding and knowing the rest of the players very first.
The difference in tribe could not even be a standing block as we easily learnt to treat each other very well knowing their dislikes and likes a team was quickly built. The get together at Desert Breeze highly contributed to building the team too.
Q: What was the moment this season when you felt most like a team?
A: In the first leg of the Uganda Cup, the second team played and won, that to me is a quintessence of a team. We are all the same, and the same team. Without the first team, the second team can carry on. The way they behaved on the pitch, connected and communicated reflected a team to me.
Q: What moment this season were you most proud of yourself?
A: All the games we played have been good moments to me. Though there are times I get feelings of giving up, I finally overcame and to me all the games have been good moments where I felt proud. When you are winning, it comes with happiness and pride more than when you are losing.
Q: Do you think you improved in the last matches or you see no difference in your performance in all the matches?
A: The performances have not been equal because not every day was good. But at least I tried to work hard in all the games I’ve played. I see so much difference from the first game till the last game.
Q: What was the most exciting game for you? Why?
A: The most exciting game was the game against Paidha. Reason, it started with rain, and scoring our goals came late. The expectation was for us to kill the game earlier but it gave us some time and when we scored the first goal which was ruled out, we had hope we could get back and score again and again. It was exciting.
Q: Is there a particular significance to your jersey number? (Why do you wear #87).
A: There is a secret behind it though I can’t say it right now but you’ll get to know about it with time.
Q: What’s in that you believe if we get to know, it would be a big surprise?
A: The day you’ll know why I put on #87
Q: What is your fondest memory of this past round?
A: I can’t tell.
Q: What aspect of your game comes easiest to you?
A: Defending. I give respect to my opponents but I don’t give them time to express themselves with freedom.
Q: What aspect of your game is the most difficult for you to master?
A: That’s my secret I would prefer keeping concealed.
Q: How do you prepare for a game that’s different from your teammates?
A: Just resting. Before the game, I put on my music to cool down and avoid negative talks from the public. I avoid the public so much.
Q: What has soccer taught you that carries over into the other areas of your life?
A: Respect. Soccer has taught me to exercise respect both in and outside the pitch, because we create friendship in sports and when you get out to the world you realize to thrive well, you need to mutually share respect.
Q: What was the most important game you played in the first round? Why?
A: All the games have been important because we needed all the points.
Q: How do you want your teammates to remember you?
A: As a contributor to the team’s promotion to the Uganda Premier League.
Q: If you didn’t play soccer what sport would you like to play? Why?
A: I would play Tennis or Basketball. We have many Tennis players in my family. Dad was a Tennis player. My brothers play Tennis. It’s only me, the last born who plays football. Very much surprisingly, my elder brothers are all playing Tennis. I think that’s the game I would play, if not Tennis, then Basketball because I love Basketball.
Q: What do you foresee in the second round
A: I can’t say they are going to be easy games as we shall start with two away games. I am sure we shall win but not easily. Simply because our opponents will field the same guys we played at home. They have verbally promised to see us again at their home which promises me the games won’t be easy but we shall do our best and do what we have to do to get points from that side.