Yesterday (March 27) is always marked as a special date in the history of Vipers Sports Club as it is the day our club president Dr Lawrence Mulindwa managed his first breath on this universe.
Born to the late Edward Mulindwa (RIP) and Catherine Mulindwa Nakyejwe in 1965 at Kanyike, Kammengo in Mpigi District, Dr Mulindwa has been an integral part in the development of present day Vipers as a majority shareholder and a vital cog on which the club revolves.
One of Otto Van Bismark’s famous quotes states; ”The main thing is to make history not to write it.” The quotable quote coming in handy to relate to the indelible mark the academician stamped on Uganda’s sporting industry. Any story about the growth and development of Uganda’s sports infrastructure would be incomplete without the mention of Dr Mulindwa’s name.
The St. Mary’s Boarding Senior Secondary School Kitende proprietor played some football during his childhood and continued with the game at Namilyango College where he captained Mukasa House. The love to excel in academics didn’t enable him to engage in a competitive football career.
The football fraternity has continuously referred to him as a unifying factor and a generous living legend who has dedicated his life to bankrolling various sports disciplines – something that has ensured his legacy remains unmatched.
Coming Out Of His Shell
Starting out his administration career as a chairman of First Division outfit Bunnamwaya FC (later renamed Vipers) in 2000 to 2004, Dr Mulindwa propelled himself onto the public scene in 2005 after relinquishing the chair to Tadeus Kitandwe when he resolved to contest for the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) presidency. And like they say, the rest is history!
In deciding to contest for one of the hottest administrative seats in the country, Dr Mulindwa was making a sacrifice because football had sunk to its lowest ebb, by then.
On June 24, 2004, Swift Commodities Limited through their lawyers Shonubi and Musoke Advocates, wrote to FUFA giving them four days to clear a debt of UGX350Million or risk auctioning the Fufa House.
FIFA got involved by starting investigations into the matter and it was at that time when they discovered the architect’s artistic design of the structure which had been sent to Zurich, was far different from the real Fufa House building.
Before Fifa acted, the Ugandan government intervened and through the then Minister of Education and Sports Hon.Namirembe Bitamazire suspended the beleaguered Fufa administration on February 2, 2005 three days to the polls where Dr Mulindwa was running neck-and-neck with incumbent Denis Obua (RIP).
Disbanding the Obua-led federation meant the elections were suspended and a normalisation committee under Dr James Ssekajugo was set up to run football matters for one year as well as re-organising fresh Fufa polls.
In the aftermath of the suspension, his main challenger – Obua – was taken to ordinary courts following a petition by Save Our Soccer (SOS) led by Aldrine Nsubuga and by the time the committee set new dates for the polls, he wasn’t eligible to stand.
And in the process, Dr Mulindwa carried on with different football activities in his quest for the presidency as he increasingly stood out as an overwhelming favourite each passing day. His challengers; James Okiror lost interest whereas Badru Ssebyala vanished into thin air without trace.
David Agong’s tenure elapsed and Patrick Okanya was appointed the new Returning Officer to oversee the elections for which only Chris Rwanika had stood to challenge Dr Mulindwa and when he pulled out of the race days to the election day, the professional educationist became Fufa president on December 17, 2005.
Life As A President
He endured a tough start at Mengo as he inherited a federation which had lost image & direction, was heavily indebted, no capacity building mechanisms in all departments, lost good will from sponsors and lackedconfidence from government, media, CAF and FIFA.
However, despite inheriting a literally bankrupt federation, Dr Mulindwa’s leadership managed to settle outstanding debts which included recovery of the land title for the Fufa House, restored the Fufa image and recovered all documents for all the Cranes vehicles before putting in place a professional accounting system for transparency – within a year.
Under his leadership, a good number of capacity building courses were conducted, Cranes remained unbeaten at home for eight years, the players welfare greatly improved, inter regions were revived, Fufa Awards were introduced, Uganda lifted the Cecafa Challenge Cup four times as Fufa attracted sponsorship from various companies on top of enjoying enviable relations with fans, government, CAF & FIFA.
However, he was challenged with failure of leading the Cranes to the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals, inadequate funding from government and a begrudging group of individuals who always fought the game’s progress by trying to drag Dr Mulindwa into the Courts of Law due to selfish interests. In a nutshell, Dr Mulindwa’s eight years at Fufa were a success because of his quality leadership.
After leaving the Fufa seat willingly, Dr Mulindwa concentrated on Vipers Sports Club with an aim of making it the best franchise in the country and one of the best across the continent – a dream he is yet to realise though all indications point to a bright future.
Magical 55th Anniversary
At the time of celebrating his 55th birthday, Vipers boast of three Uganda Premier League Championships and are on the verge of registering a fourth as they lead the StarTimes-backed championship log with five matches to play. Vipers have also one Uganda Cup, one Fufa Super Cup and one Fufa Super 8 Cup in the trophy cabinet. But whereas many look at the haul as one of an achiever, Dr Mulindwa refers to be drawn in the praise and instead refers to it as ‘andunderachievement’.
In March 2017, he became the first Ugandan to own a private stadium as the magnificent St Mary’s Stadium was officially opened to the public with a CAF Confederation Cup cracker between Vipers and Platinum stars from South Africa which the Venoms managed to win 1-0 thanks to a lone strike from attacking midfielder Milton Karisa.
And before the dust could even settle down, he recently unveiled a factory manufactured club bus – the first of its kind in Uganda. A couple of months ago, he opened a state-of-the art gym at the stadium.
Further to that, his St Mary’s Kitende school project excels academically and that excellence has laid a foundation on which it is the most sought after private secondary school in the country on top of the sporting excellence in the different sports disciplines.
The school has remained a vital conveyor belt of talents to Vipers producing footballing stars like Farouk Miya, Yunus Ssentamu, Mike ‘Sulaiman’ Mutyaba, Keziron Kizito, Karim Watambala, Paul Mucureezi, Aziz Kayondo, Kizito Luwagga to mention but a few. One wouldn’t be wrong if they stated that there is no topflight club in Uganda without a Kitende product.
On December 13, 2018, the Vipers strongman was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree from London Graduate School (Commonwealth University) in honour of his distinguished contributions towards development of education and sports which he received during the 15th Dubai Leadership Summit in United Arab Emirates.
Last but not least, Dr Mulindwa is a statistician, an educationist, an achiever, a tycoon, a very hardworkingphilanthropist and a fatherly figure one that is looked up to by many people of the current generation.
Briefly, that’s the life story of football icon whose birthday we are celebrating, may he live to blow unaccountable candles to fulfill all the desired goals of his family, St Mary’s Kitende and Vipers Sports Club.
Happy Birthday Dr Lawrence Mulindwa. One team, One dream!
Copyright 2020 Vipers Sports Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.viperssc.co.ug as the source.