By Kyle Edwin Kule
The promising young star, Abdul Karim Watambala who is also known as ‘Gunter’ is steadily earning a special place in the hearts of many Ugandan football fanatics with his special talent.
His love for football gradually developed during his infancy, growing impressively into an attacking midfielder with special ingredients throughout his school days.
Watambala was born in the Eastern part of the Pearl of Africa in Mbale district. The last born in the family of four was came into the world at Mbale hospital on March 3, 2000.
He enrolled for nursery education at Convenient Primary School up to primary two, before moving to Mbale Town View Primary School where he wrote his Primary Leaving Examinations.
For secondary education, he studied in three different schools, commencing his journey at St John’s Secondary School where he was for one year.
In S.2 he joined Nile High School, Mukono but his stay at this horizon was cut short in S.3 when he joined St. Mary’s SS, Kitende where he completed A-level education.
“When I was in S.3, we had a friendly with St. Mary’s Secondary, Kitende. I had a great day on the pitch where I scored a consolation but unfortunately, we lost” Watambal told Football256.
“After the game, I was picked by the coaches of St. Mary’s Kitende and that marked the start of my era at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’,” he added.
Watambala loved football ever since he was young drawing inspiration from his father Nagmise Musa who is also a former footballer.
“I come from a football background. My father is a former footballer and as a young kid I always admired my brothers who competed at the Copa Coca-Cola schools’ championships for their schools.”
“I also wanted to play at that level and that pushed me to take my football seriously.”
“I got my first platform when was introduced by my brothers at a Christmas tournament at 14 years in our village. This helped me to believe in myself and become stronger mentally and never looked back,” Watambala revealed.
Hard time at St. Mary’s Kitende
In 2018, Watambala’s trophy cabin started to expand, the year started with the Kitende zonal schools trophy before scooping the Wakiso District championship following a 2-1 final win over arch-rivals Buddo SS.
Horrible memories in the 2018 Copa Coca-Cola Schools’ championship will be hard to get off Watambala’s mind. Kitende failed to go beyond the round of 16m, falling 5-4 on penalties to minors Lira Town College.
Buddo went on to win the championship, beating Blessed Sacrament – Kimanya 1-0 in the final at Kakyeka Stadium in Mbarara.
More misery surfaced in Musanze, Rwanda during the regional FEASSSA games, as Watambala and Kitende failed to go beyond the group stages.
Placed in group A as defending champions alongside Uganda’s champion Buddo SS, LDK (Rwanda), and Kenya’s Olbolssat, St Mary’s finished third in the group with only four points from three games.
Buddo and LDK of Rwanda advanced to the next round, and Buddo eventually won the trophy beating LDK 6-5 in the final after spot-kicks following a one-all draw in normal time.
Watambala sealed the year (2018) by winning the FUFA Juniors League trophy with Vipers SC Junior Team. His side through Sula Mpanga beat Onduparaka Junior Team 1-0 in the final at the Phillip Omondi Stadium in Lugogo.
He also won the Buganda Schools Championship, beating St. Juliana High School, Gayaza in the final held at the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole.
Watambala’s final year in secondary school
Kitende started 2019 on a high, winning the first edition of the USSSA Elite Schools Championship, thumping Buddo SS 4-0 in the finals.
They went on to win the famous Buganda Cup Schools Championship after a 1-0 win over Uganda Martyrs High School, Rubaga.
Buddo SS then got square against Kitende in the Wakiso district Copa Coca-Cola qualifiers final beating Kitende on spot-kicks.
Kitende went ahead to win the Copa Coca-Cola Schools Cup in Jinja. After a laboured win over Buddo in the semi-final, Kitende easily dismantled Jinja SS by a 3-1 score in the final.
In August 2019 during the FEASSSA games in Arusha, Tanzania, Kitende through Umar Kyebatala’s strike beat Buddo 1-0 to lift the East African trophy.
Elevation to Vipers SC senior team
After an impressive run at both St. Mary’s Kitende School team and Vipers SC Junior Team, head coach Edward Golola gained trust in the young lad.
Watambala was handed his Vipers SC senior debut against Proline FC at StarTimes Stadium, Lugogo in the Pilsner Super 8 tournament.
Vipers won 1-0 with Watambala scooping the man of the match accolade for his electrifying performance on the day. They also marched on to win the title, earning the midfielder his first senior trophy.
Drawing inspiration from Barcelona’s Lionel Messi, Watambala has grown from strength to strength since then.
Earning his maiden national team call up less than six months after his senior debut, Watambala played a significant role as the Uganda Cranes won a record 14th CECAFA Senior Challenge Cup trophy.
He then capped off a great season by helping Vipers scoop their fourth league crown. The dream for the 20-year-old is to play at the top level of world football, and according to him, the sky is the limit.
Full Name: Abdul Karim Watambala “Gunter”
Father: Nagmise Musa
Mother: Nagmise Afusa
Age: 20 years (March 3, 2000)
Weight: 68 kgs
• Convenient Primary School (Nursery-P2)
• Mbale Town View (P.3-P.7)
• St. John Secondary School (S.1)
• Nile High School, Mukono (S.2-S.3)
• St. Mary’s Kitende (S.4-S.6)
• Vipers Junior Team
• Viper SC