23 December 2012

UGANDA : Newly promoted City Oilers want to lift title in two years

The City Oilers team that secured promotion to the top division. Squatting in the middle is point guard Mande Juruni, also coach of Warriors.
The City Oilers team that secured promotion to the top division. Squatting in the middle is point guard Mande Juruni, also coach of Warriors. courtesy photo
By Mark Namanya
Mark NamanyaFor City Oilers coach Mohammed Ghedi, the elation of reaching the promised land is over. Occupying his thoughts is not what has been achieved. Rather, it is what can be achieved.
Make no mistake, advancement to division one was a remarkable feat, particularly when you consider that their 2012 roster was dominated by part-timers. But for Ghedi, there is no time to dwell on the past. It is the future. He wants the team to eventually become a seasoned Fuba league basketball side. It is his dream.
“We (City Oilers) want to make basketball competitive,” Ghedi told Daily Monitor this week. “Currently, we have Warriors, Falcons, Power, UCU and KIU as the teams that stand out in the eyes of most basketball fans. “We have a dream of joining that league. We want the division to be competitive, exciting and more colourful. We don’t want to just prioritise winning as City Oilers.”
Ghedi’s view is shared by many. Basketball is unique. It is a sport where fans more often than not front the interests of the game before those of their clubs. That said, City Oilers possess a desire to compete. They want to finish in the top 6 in their first season in the top division. It is a modest target; a realistic ambition which, the club’s management believes, keeps them in line with their aim of becoming champions in 2014.
“Many players have approached us,” says Ghedi. “But we want our growth to be something close to organic. We have identified the players we need and will continue to look around to land individuals who will make the roster to match our first season in the league.”
Whole new team
The City Oilers of 2012 will be a whole world apart from the 2013 team in terms of composition of the playing staff. Some of the players who earned promotion, like Mande Juruni, will not play for them any longer. Nziza Rurangirwa, Henry Baguma and Ambrose Tashobya are all busy with their employment and won’t cope with the demands of the top division.
Either way, that break-up, voluntary or not, was always bound to be neccesitated. There is a higher voltage of physicality and competitiveness at the top most level that naturally requires a more committed training regime as well as fitness and conditioning levels.
Even Ghedi, a businessman, has expressed reservations over whether he will be the man to handle the club in 2013. “It is a decision that will be taken by management but for now, it will not be easy for me to coach the team full time.” He is, however, confident the team’s progress will continue regardless of who is in charge.
The team will be financed by City Oil and one of the directors, Hassan Ahmed Hussein, has been an ever-present at their games. “We want to be competitive as well as respect the league,” he explained. “We are going to go for young players and groom our own people to make it a fair product for all fans of the sport.”
Should City Oilers plans come to fruition, basketball will have taken a huge leap as a brand.

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