When HE President Museveni congratulated FUFA as proposed by the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development as one the organizations that put to best use Government funds.
ON TUESDAY 30th June 2020, I woke up to a text message from someone on the bedside of Col. Bell communicating the passing on of the decorated Soldier.
It was just a few minutes from the moment he breathed his last.
“Afande is gone” that was all in the message. Agonising news but it was the reality.
Although I had heard about a football enthusiastic military man who owned Victors foot ball club, I first physically met Brigadier General Tushabe Jackson Bell on the 17th of December 2005. Then popularly known as Col. Bell (Afande),
his first words to me were, “Anatunda omupiira kati sasi”, literally meaning, whoever sells a match will now be shot dead; of course humourous and joking as he always was.
We had just been appointed members of the Executive Committee of FUFA by Dr. Mulindwa in his maiden term as FUFA President.
In the first Executive committee of FUFA, Bell was appointed Chairman of the Competitions Committee and I was appointed the secretary of the Competitions Committee. He became my boss by default.
The Secretary Competitions Committee was one of the most demanding and yet powerful positions in football then and our revolution was to clean up competitions that had gone to the dogs with match fixing and hooliganism.
I was not yet 30 years and was still an active footballer. I signed my own player license on behalf of FUFA for 2 seasons before a coup was arranged by Mr. Mugisha to stop me from playing (A story for another day).
The success we made to restore the integrity and improvement of competitions had a great input of both Col Bell and Dr. Mulindwa as my bosses.
Young, naive, innovative, fearless, very energetic with passion to organise fair competitions, I took the bull by its horns. I definitely stepped on many toes and created a new normal.
Col Bell, my chairman provided me with all the support and cover I needed. I can confidently say I am the administrator that I am today because I was groomed and allowed to blossom by Col. Bell and of course Dr. Lawrence Mulindwa.
Col Bell was my chairman for 6 years and he accommodated my mistakes, directed me where I was going off rail and protected me where I was right against many.
There is a time, Bunamwaya FC (the club owned by then FUFA President) used a player with a red card and the committee had to take the decision to deduct 6 points. Of course the likes of Haruna Kyobe could not believe this but when I explained the rules to Col. Bell, he called Dr. Mulindwa and explained it to him. I met the FUFA President and the best interest for the game was to implement the rules. It sounds easy after but not a simple thing then. These 2 gentlemen allowed me to implement the rules.
One other incident, Victors FC used a player with three (3) cards inadvertently against Express FC and at that time Express could be relegated so the rules would require that three points be awarded to Express FC. I explained to my 2 bosses that no one would ever believe that this was inadvertent. I suggested we wait to take the decision and stretch Express FC to fight for its survival on the pitch for the integrity of the Competitions.
Another hard and risky one but my 2 seniors believed and supported me and Express FC fought on the pitch up to even winning the Uganda Cup that season.
There are countless incidents that Col. Bell stood up for me. Most notable when the big clubs wanted me to be removed from the powerful position of Competitions Secretary because I did not offer preferential treatment they always enjoyed before.
For example, on behalf of the committee;
(1) I had warned and denied KCC FC leave to use Owen Kasule with three (3) yellow cards having accumulated 2 in the lower league and one (1) in KCC FC as prohibited by the rules.
(2) I had denied SC Villa’s outside the window registration of Ibrahim Kongo as prohibited by the rules.
(3) I had ordered the replay of Express FC without fans in the morning at Nakivubo and enforced it for the first time in reaction to a match aborted by hooliganism in accordance with the prevailing rules then.
The clubs thought I was being too much but Col. Bell put down his foot that I can only leave if he is leaving too. And the clubs had to accept the status quo.
About 2011, Col. Bell became ill and could no longer execute his football roles and was eventually replaced by Mr. Issa Magoola as I was promoted to become the FUFA Vice President-Administration.
We have since been chatting, talking and sometimes visiting him and he was as jolly as always. He always said “Va ku basiru abo” literally meaning ignore those people. Into his last days, he was always listening to radio programmes of sports and you would be shocked how current he was.
I can write about Col Bell until the cows come home but what a disciplinarian yet humanitarian administrator he was. He loved football, he loved Victors FC, he loved his family.
Credit or Fault Col. Bell and Dr. Mulindwa for the football administrator I have become that you love or hate.
My boss has always been a great battler winning many wars; he has fought a great battle for his life for the last 10 years and for me despite the pain of losing our loved one, it has been a battle he has won.
I thank the family particularly auntie Victors and Benjamin Jamhuri for the support to our friend, our father, our brother as the football family.
Go rest my boss, it is just your time now and it is the decision of God that is never wrong. All of us will join you one day, it is a matter of time.
On my own behalf and that of the football family, we deliver our condolences to the family, the football fraternity, and the UPDF