#SHACKAt100 Profiles - Polly Ouma

  • 04/29/2022 03:05:00 pm

Phanuel Masakhwe Polly Ouma facts file Briefs:

SHACK: 1963 - 1964

  • He led Simba to the 1971 league title.
  • He led Simba to the final of 1972 Africa Club Championship.
  • He was part of the team that won the 1973 CECAFA title
  • He was national team captain from 1973-1974.
  • He was part of the team that won the 1976 CECAFA title
  • He was part of the team that won the 1977 CECAFA title
  • He led Simba to the 1978 league title.
  • He featured in the 1968, 1976 & 1978 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) and scored the vital goal which took Uganda to the 1974 Afcon Edition.
  • He retired from the Cranes in 1974 but returned in 1975 due to public demand finally retiring in 1978
  • His portrait featured on postage stamps of Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania in the run up to the 1978 FIFA World cup tournament.
  • He coached Cranes from 1989-95 and had Club coaching stints at Bell FC, KCC FC, Nile FC and Express FC
  • He is a member of Uganda’s exclusive club of coaches that have won double titles.
  • He is rated as one of the finest strikers ever capable of single-handedly beating an entire defence and had a knack for scoring vital goals for club and country.
  • He was at the helm of the Uganda Cranes as coach when they won the 1989, 1990 & 1992 CECAFA regional titles. A feat that leaves him as the only Ugandan to win the title as player and coach.
  • He played for Simba till he retired a club that would thrust its hopes singularly on him.
  • He is a well decorated player, having won six regional titles with The Cranes.
  • He holds being the to date longest tenure serving cranes coach (1989-1995) a spell that saw Uganda win three CECAFA titles
  • He holds both Football Coaching licenses “B” and “A” from Germany.
  • He is a FIFA Football Coaching instructor
  • He was the Kobs team manager when they did reach the 1999 All Africa Games semi-finals.
  • His generation that made the 1978 Nations Cup final is ranked up there as arguably the best.
  • He is listed among Uganda’s 8 CECAFA winning captains
  • His was listed in the1957 – 1970 cohort Confederation of African Football (CAF) nominees together with several African players for the best ever award in the last 50 years.
  • He was Bronze medal decorated for his exemplary input towards football development at The Seventh Africa Military Football Cup tournament held in 2008





Pre SHACK Period:

Born 21-January1942 in Bumunji Village Busia, he went to Busiho Primary School as a toddler but sat his PLE from Busia Primary School from where he joined Manjasi High School before joining St. Bernard’s College Kiswera whereupon, on scoring a hat-trick in a football game against St Henry’s he was snapped up by Kitovu.

SHACK Period:1963-1964

On the sunny afternoon of November 14, 1964, at Kampala’s Wankulukuku stadium, defending champions SMACK faced their old rivals St Henry’s College Kitovu in the football finals of the Buganda Senior Cup. The first half was a nervous affair. Despite lots of innovation on the pitch and motivation cheering from both sets of fans (SMACK had two buses, two trucks and all teachers’ carswhereas SHACK had a single bus), the stalemate held.

In the second half, SMACK led, but their joy was short-lived, as Kitovu equalized, with a penalty from Polly Ouma. With barely ten minutes left, John Baptist Ssemanobe SMACK’s star left winger scored another, 2-1 it ended and the trophy returned to Kisubi.

In S.3, he was expelled for alleged involvement in a strike. For fear of returning home to face his tough dad’s wrath, he went to an uncle of his instead and through an official of Nsambya FC he then joined Old Kampala SS. It’s from Old Kampala that Ouma was snapped up by Coffee FC.


Post SHACK football Period: Coffee FC, Simba FC – Uganda Cranes

One day, he and others were picked by a Major Francis Nyangweso in an army ambulance and driven straight to Entebbe Airport where they were informed of the want to form a very strong army football team and for them to be part of it.

They were put on a military chopper, taken to Moyo where they found other guys and everything in place. They were trained, the best being returned to Entebbe wherefrom they went to Jinja and started another round of training. That year 1966, Army side Simba FC was born with Polly Ouma being its pioneer skipper / captain.

In 1968, in a highly billed friendly game clash played at Nakivubo between an East African Select and West Bromwich Albion on the English side’s tour of the region, Ouma scored for East Africa as it ended 1-1. His and his peers’ performance was so eye catching that it got West Bromwich interested in their services.

In 1971, Polly Ouma netted 18 goals in 14 matches being that year’s League top scorer which were (40%) out of 45 goals scored by his (Simba FC) club to claim the title unbeaten.

In 1972, Ouma was an inspiration as he captained Simba that beat everyone on their way to the Caf Champions League final of Africa Club Championship- a memory forever freshly etched in his mind. His combination with John Ddibya (dad to ShackObs Katimbo Allan and Nganda Brian) and Swalleh Wasswa is described by many as the most deadly striking force ever. His leadership qualities earned him the club armband for an uninterrupted eight years. Ouma who is by far the most successful centre forward to don the national colours that very same year, took over the national team captain’s armband and led The Cranes to CECAFA Cup glory in the inaugural tournament held in Kampala and could single handedly take Cranes to any next level as his own class dribbling skills and fine finishing were next to none.

It was a year that saw Ouma be a three-fold captain; captain of Simba FC, captain of Uganda Cranes and captain in the army a feat he singularly holds.

In 1973, on the verge of elimination by Algeria, Ouma scored a vital late equaliser in Algiers for the Cranes to qualify for / ensure passage to the 1974 Africa Cup of Nations. Around then, his daughter fell sick and got admitted in Lubaga Hospital. He sought permission to go and attend to her from then Cranes’ German tactician Otto Westholf who insensitively asked him whether he was a medical doctor. He left camp, thus missing the tournament. So incensed was he,that he thereafter announced his retirement from the Cranes team but so did he return due to public demand in 1975. In a Nakivubo tie against Zambia locked at 0-0, the recalled Ouma was introduced in the second half. He lived up to the proverbial cliché “cometh the hour, cometh the man” with a wonderful opening goal that was followed by two special finishes by Omondi (Dad to ShackOb Omondi David) and Barnabas Mwesiga. The Cranes qualified on a 4-2 aggregate scoreline. Therefrom 1976 Cranes won two CECAFA tournaments in succession.

In 1978, under the guidance of Polly Ouma as its coach-player, Simba FC broke KCC’s league dominance. For the Nations Cup final in Ghana, Ouma got injured in a game’s opening minutes being the very last time he played for the Cranes and thereby retired.

In 1979 he coached KENATCO in Kenya

In 1983, he attended Sportschule Ruit –Germany and attained a Football Coaching “B” Licence.

In 1986, he handled SC Villa helping it win its very first League title which it regained in 1987 and also took that year’s Uganda Cup trophy, thus earning the club the “Ssalongo” moniker. Still under his charge, the team did also win that year’s CECAFA title.

In 1989, he led The Cranes to the Kuwait Invitational Peace and Friendship Games in October where Uganda lost to Iraq in the final after impressive shows against Lebanon, Kuwait and Iran. Weeks later he led the Cranes team to the CECAFA Cup in Kenya where they did wonders and recaptured the title, which had eluded Uganda for 12 years.              That same year, Ouma attended SportschuleHennef –Germany and attained a Football Coaching “A” Licence

In 1992, the Cranes recaptured the CECAFA trophy. Ouma’s team was in contention for a slot to the 1996 Afcon Nations Cup before Egypt walloped them 6-0 in the final qualifying match.Hesensed danger and resigned.






Memorable Moment and Sage Advice:

Polly Ouma is nostalgia struck of their play hey days when national footballers’ welfare was of priority as non-cash& cash hand-outs were given to morale boost. They were always reminded of the ambassadorial role they were playing and were told to listen very carefully whenever the national anthem was being played and take all their inspiration from that.”

On winning the 1976 CECAFA [regional] Cup by beating Zambia in Zanzibar, then-president Amin thrilled beyond sent them a Boeing 707, which flew them to Uganda for a red-carpet presidential reception and then dispatched them to Libya, on the same jet. Ouma who had sustained a knee injury during the tournament, had to follow them up later in the presidential jet so as not to miss out on the state-sponsored shopping spree. They were being treated like national treasures to the extent of them being untouchable not even by the press.

“Today, our football leadership is about individuals, money and prestige,” “No structures, nothing. “Our leaders do not want to listen. If the administrators are poor, it reflects on the players. “Discipline was important during our time. 6pm meant 6pm and if you were given an off, you had to report back exactly when you were expected. By normal standards, match preparations were flawless”Also, we had a strong bond on the national team. We were fierce rivals in our clubs but it was a different story on the national team.”

“During play, there is a lot of purposeless clearance of balls, this lack of consistence or sustained action is not only limited to the players. The fans are no different. Ugandans only cheer in goal scoring opportunities. If we are to morale boost our teams and also rattle the opponents’ nerves, the cheering must be constant.

Polly Ouma the once upon a time Vice Chairman of Veterans Board (retired soldiers) insists he does not know whether to be called a retired captain or just captain for the 15 years he spent in active army service. They formed the Uganda ex-Servicemen Association on being thrown out in 1979 and have since been chasing for their benefits, gratuity and perhaps pension which are yet to be gotten (if ever).

He currently lives with his family in his Kitintale bungalow, part of which he rents out.       He has eight children (five boys, three girls) and grandchildren and is reachable on           0772 / 0713 420 333 and 0703 889 197.

Article Summary

In our series of #SHACKAt100 Profiles, we look at the life of legend Polly Ouma Phanuel Masakhwe. Here is what you didnt know about him.