When Vipers SC director, Lawrence Mulindwa roared, plotting a huge continental statement, he was as swift and unswerving as it gets.
His dream wasn’t just about what happens on the pitch, but about changing the entire Vipers’ face, and the full picture of football in Uganda.
On Saturday at the St. Mary’s Stadium, Kitende, against Central African Republic side, Olympic Real De Bangui in the second leg of the CAF Champions League preliminary round, the Venoms were a class act, off the pitch.
With the mammoth crowds that made their way to Kitende, the organization at the entrances, safety, hospitality, teamwork, matchday program, and general management was top notch.
It was clear the club had invested many hours of preparation. Every single personnel was up to the task and fully committed to it.
By mid-day, football fans had started to fall in for the highly anticipated encounter, with kickoff set for four hours later.
The prompt fans met their equally timely servants at the gates, ready to carry their wishes, in an experience to remember.
Despite the venue also serving as the only point for acquiring matchday tickets, there was no fuss.
The points of sale were clear, the passages to the stadium were safe and oh, the faces that served were alluring, appreciative of every fanatic’s unwavering support.
Unlike the extremely hideous events of manhandling attached to Ugandan football venues, at St Mary’s Stadium, Kitende, it was the absolute opposite.
The security men carried themselves with the utmost professionalism and served with pleasant faces.
On the inside, in the noise-filled, almost deafening arena, the crowd control was one of the best this country has seen in many years.
As it was a day out of sorts, there were no men with firearms like it often is elsewhere, yet the deployed stewards executed their role to near perfection.
There wasn’t one case of a crowd outburst nor an unpleasant scene. It was more like a family horde.
The media, the VVIP ticket holders, and a few others were treated to a free matchday program, an experience that hasn’t been synonymous with the game at Kitende.
The matchday program, a seven-page Issue dubbed, Fiery Venoms, encompasses Mulindwa’s dream, a case of a clear continental mission.
The ambiance before kickoff, at halftime, and at the end of the match, was a make of an experience the football faithful deserve.
Each of the thousands that braved the chilly weather to make it down to Kitende, left with a feeling of contentment. They had got served.
At the end of the day, Vipers won by a narrow 1-0 victory, courtesy of marksman Yunus Sentamu’s first-half strike.
The Venoms progressed via a 4-0 aggregate and now await TP Mazembe in the first round.
The first leg is slated for St Mary’s Stadium on October 8, a meeting that promises an even more exhilarating experience.