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Kamya: career full of potential ended by his self-destruction

RIP: Herbert Kamya

RIP: Herbert Kamya

When Herbert Kamya arrived at Express FC in December 1986, the club’s faithful quickly declared him the heir apparent to the ageing midfield maestro Moses Ndaula.

Head coach Robert Kiberu loved the youngster and Kamya did not take long to fit into the star-Ndaula, Paul Nkata, Phillip Musoke and Fred Mukasa. The then 20-year-old left-footer was a dare-devil who could confidently dribble past an entire defence.

However, in spite of his prodigious talent, Kamya was greatly distracted by off-field issues. His discipline was questionable; he was rebellious and had a hot head. All these would later ruin his talent and forced him to end his football career at just 26 years.

Unfortunately, Kamya passed away June 15, at Kiruddu hospital aged just 56 years. He died silently and only a handful of few people got to know about his death. At his funeral in Kirowoza, on the outskirts of Mukono, I could only identify one former teammate in Kennedy Lubogo.

EXPRESS BREAKTHROUGH

I grew up in the neighbourhood of Katwe, where Kamya was one of the top prospects at Katwe United before Express snapped him up.

At Express, his first goal came after just six games in the 4-0 win over UCB FC. Later that season, Kamya showcased his exceptional talent when he single-handedly downed the Buikwe Red Stars in the Uganda Cup quarterfinal game at Buikwe.

He scored from a free-kick as the game ended 1-1 after normal time and went on to score the decisive penalty. By 1988, Kamya had grown in stature and was a permanent fixture on the team. His performance earned him summons to the Uganda Cranes, and he travelled with the team to the 1988 Cecafa Cup in Malawi.

HELL BREAKS LOOSE

The first signs of Kamya’s unpredictability started showing up early in 1989, when he started missing training sessions without permission from Kiberu. He also started making unrealistic financial demands to the club. In the process, he was suspended.

The club later pardoned him and met some of his financial demands. But after just a few months, he came up with fresh demands. This time, he wanted a fully furnished house.

Express’ Makindye Fans Club got the house for him, but Kamya never occupied it. In 1990, the club suspended him indefinitely. A section of fans pleaded with the club to pardon him again; after two years, Kamya wrote an apology letter and got pardoned.

He returned to full training and featured in the team that won the 1992 Uganda Cup title. But before the start of the 1993 season, Kamya was back to his antics and deserted the team for good.

PAUPER LIFE

Kamya’s dream was to join the paid ranks in Europe, and he assured all his close buddies that he had secured a club in Sweden and was just waiting for his visa and air ticket to make the trip.

In the meantime, he never bothered to play football so as not to risk getting injured. He also didn’t bother to get a job locally because his focus was only on professional football. As time passed, he had nothing for his basic needs and only depended on handouts.

In the end, the Swedish dream never materialized and that’s how his football career fizzled out. In 2017, a friend helped him travel to Turkey to do odd jobs. He returned after two years, dejected! He was sick and from then on, he was in and out of the hospital until June 15, when he breathed his last.

It was a sad ending to one of the most promising footballers I have ever seen. Kamya’s career tragedy is just one of several humbling ex- experiences of former football stars. He deserved better!

bzziwa@observer.ug

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