Basil Tuma, a member of Year 11 in South Lawn (BJH), has recently returned from a major international football tournament. He has been competing in the CECAFA Under-17 Challenge Cup as a member of the U-17 Ugandan national team. Predominantly playing as a right winger, Basil was part of the Ugandan team that won the CECAFA, the second team to ever win and qualify for the AFCON, potentially setting a precedent for years to come.

The 2020 CECAFA U-17 Challenge Cup, held in Rwanda in mid-December, was a competition between the six East African nations of Uganda, Tanzania, Djibouti, Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya. Although existing as a competition in its own right, the tournament doubles up as the East African qualifier for the AFCON U-17 championship, a bi-annual competition that will be held next month in Morocco.

Both Uganda and Tanzania will now progress to the 2021 AFCON U-17, along with 10 other teams that qualified from their corresponding zone within Africa. The top four teams would have qualified for the 2021 Fifa U17 World Cup, but unfortunately that event was cancelled late last year due to the pandemic.

Explaining that he “was the only person from abroad”, Basil spoke to the Press Office and described how he felt like an “outsider in the group”, having to prove himself to those in charge. In the month preceding the competition a training camp was held in Uganda, where significant work took place to refine the team took. Although everyone at the camp dreamed of a career in football, they knew they wouldn’t all make team. In fact, the squad began at 48 players but was cut down to 20 by the beginning of the competition. Basil himself had tried for the Ugandan national team at U-15 level in 2019 but was unfortunately unsuccessful, an illustration of just how challenging the competition is.

After some “unofficial, friendly games”, the competition itself began, with Basil playing as an impact substitute. The team played two group games, followed by a semi-final against Djibouti and the final against Tanzania. Now the AFCON U-17 awaits in March as a major milestone. Although his coach has told the squad that they can “rest on their laurels”, at some point Basil may have to prove himself again for selection.

Whenever that time comes, we would like to wish Basil the best of luck in his future career with the team!