By Baron Kironde
Ugandan events manager and safety expert Dixon ‘Bond’ Okello has received the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Safety and Security Officer Award for 2020 in Douala, Cameroon.
Okello, a certified FIFA and CAF football security officer emerged as the best amongst his peers after CAF Officials, match commissioners, general coordinators, media officers, and referees overwhelmingly voted for him.
“I will keep on delivering 100% and making sure stadiums and venues around the world are safe,” Okello vowed after receiving his award on Saturday in Douala, Cameroon.
Okello, a safety and security officer is responsible for risk management, crowd management, and safe capacity calculations at stadiums.
He has to ensure that stewards are in place to ensure that the match/tournament progresses smoothly from start to finish without insecurity, working under the principles of coordination, communication and cooperation.
Attributing his first CAF Safety and Security Award to the Almighty God, Dixon admitted that it has not been easy for him especially in Uganda where his efforts have always been frustrated.
“I have always struggled to bring sanity to the stadiums here in Uganda. But there has always been a lot of ‘fitina’ (envy) from other security agencies.”
“Because they think that I want to steal the show and or maybe make them look stupid like they don’t know how to work.”
“But in this field, I have trained in Switzerland, Poland, Greece and Brazil. I am an expert. I know what I do.”
“When I go out there, people appreciate me and my services are required all over,” Okello added.
The first of his kind in Uganda, Okello is contented that through his efforts and cooperation, the country has three other Ugandans in CAF security like Humphrey Watenga Mandu, Jamil Bawalaggana Mpagi Sewanyana and Abdul Lukooya Sekabira.
“We have to make sure that more Ugandans are trained as CAF security officers to make sure that our stadiums are safe. And of course, to get rid of the guns that are at football venues,” Okello noted.
Okello has not had engagements this year because FIFA and CAF have not had many tournaments and matches. He has so far done eight international games.
But for the last one-and-a-half-years, he has been able to handle big tournaments like the 2019 AFCON in Egypt, where he was in charge of the main stadium that hosted the opening game, semifinals and final.
Still, in 2019, he was also in charge of AFCON U20 in Niger where he overlooked the main stadium for the opening match, semifinals, and final.
Okello was employed by FIFA in Poland for the U20 World Cup and also in Brazil for the U17 World Cup.
Okello also handled the Confederations Cup final between Raja Casablanca and AS Vita Sports among many other big matches in Africa, Europe, and South America.
“I just thank God. Every time you go out and excel, there are recommendations about you and news start spreading around that indeed there is someone from Africa who handles things professionally. You get clubs contacting you,” Okello stated.
Okello further disclosed that throughout this time, he has not only undertaken charge of matches but undertaking security courses as well.
Okello revealed that for the past two years, he has acquired qualifications that can enable him to handle matches at the highest level; be it the world cup final, or the El Classico between Real Madrid and Barcelona.