Women’s football in Uganda has made great trends over the years. Since the start of the FUFA Women Elite League in 2015 there is honest evidence that the game is taking a steady path.
Having girls/women play regularly has improved on the quality of women’s football but most importantly, the players showing their adeptness for a game predominantly considered for men.
Tracy Jones Akiror no doubt ranks among the ardent and established female footballers in the country at the moment with his best moments coming in 2018.
From being an unsung hero at Kawempe Muslim, Akiror went ahead to be a mainstay on the national team (Crested Cranes) and later named captain hence in the end encrypting her name in the hearts and minds of football fans in Uganda.
A jolly and playful off the pitch, Akiror is the exact opposite when she steps onto the field of play, meaning business and ensuring her team always comes top.
” I think I was born a winner, because it has been part of my life since I started playing. So whenever I’m playing, I want to be on the winning side and that has kept me working harder,” she stated.
It is always tough for any ordinary Ugandan footballer to raise up the ranks with majority coming from humble backgrounds and Akiror is not exceptional.
Born in Luzira, a suburb of Kampala city, her story is not any different from many of the kids that harbour the dreams of being professional footballers.
At first discouraged by the mother (Robinah Nassali) to play the beautiful game in a desperate bid to save her then deteriorating educational career, the decision was revised when she landed a bursary courtesy of the talent.
Right from primary school (at Luzira Church of Uganda Primary school), Akiror played women football and was a darling across the divide at the school.
” I remember very well in the year 2004 when I joined Luzira COU primary school, I used to admire the girls playing football.When I started to play in 2006, I did not look back.” She narrates.
Being a female footballer, it was always going to be hard for Akiror to chase her dream, first trying to defy cultural beliefs that football is meant for men but also finding where to train.
” At first it was a challenge because no one at home thought a girl can play football. Secondly, I had no where to train from, so I ended up playing with boys and up to now when I’m not with my club and national team, I train with boys and men in Butabika.”
Born to James Olongaliya and Robinah Nassali on August 25, 1997 at Mulago hospital in Kampala, Akiror’s rise up the ranks has witnessed her gel with the finest personalities in the land, attain fame and as well get the chance to study free of charge.
” Everything I have achieved in life has been because of playing football and I do not at any time regret. I have made friends, studied because of my talent and travelled to several parts of the world.” Akiror indicates.
Comfortable as a blocking and attacking midfielder, Akiror has mastered the art of playing the long diagonal balls to teammates as inspired by her role model, Tonny Mawejje, a Uganda Cranes midfielder playing professional football in Albania with FK Tiranna.
I love the way Tonny Mawejje plays and I was inspired to play just like him
Along the way, she has been motivated to invest countless hour in training in a bid to polish up several aspects of her game – ball control, dribbling, passing and dribbling.
She sings special praise to two gentlemen Michael Kalyesubula and Ayub Khalifah for the encouragement even when she felt the going was no more.
“Sometimes you need a push factor in life and Mr. Kalyesubula and Khalifah gave me the go ahead.Who knows, I could have easily given up along the way?”
a four time FUFA Women Elite League winner and a diligent member on the senior Uganda women football team (Crested Cranes), Akiror reflects back to the journey moved as a steady-fast learning process.
She started the journey playing with boys at Destiny Soccer Academy, found in Luzira, a Kampala suburb.
Over the years, she continued to play and her exceptional talent caught the eyes of power house – Kawempe Muslim and as we speak the rest is now rich history.
When Luzira Church of Uganda Primary School humiliated Biira Primary School 10-0, that was my happiest moment as a footballer.
Education wise, life has been a bed of roses for Akiror. She won a bursary at St. Marys S.S, Nsumba because of the football talent.
After O-level, she was recruited to study at St. Julian high school in Gayaza for another bursary at Advanced level.
She then joined UCU Lady Cardinals from where Kawempe Musim signed her.
My debut at Kawempe Muslim was that 13-0 triumph against Kakira in 2015. In that season, I was deployed as a centre back playing alongside Yudaya Nakayenze.
I went on to make 13 clean sheets in the whole season out of 16 games and besides, we were champions for the first edition of the FUFA Women Elite League and we Haven gone on to win it four successive times.
In 2013, she was part of the Uganda U-20 team that eliminated South Sudan 21-0 after a resounding 9-0 and 13-0 away and home result respectively.Unfortunately, due to limited resources for the federation, the team did not progress any further.
Until on 3rd July 2016, Akiror together with the rest of the other Crested Cranes players traveled to Kenya for an international build up that they lost 4-0 at the Moi Sports Complex in Kisumu.
” We learnt a lot from the trip to Kenya and since then, the national team has transformed into a more competitive unit.”
2018, Akiror’s Best Year
2018 was a blissful year for the midfielder who achieved both for club and country.
At Kawempe Muslim she helped the team win the league including scoring in the playoffs and the winner in the final against Olila High School. She was them named the Most Valuable Player.
After being named the captain of the Crested Cranes, Akiror guided the team to second place during the CECAFA Championship held in Rwanda. She was also influential as Uganda finished third at the COSAFA Championship including scoring the lone goal as the Crested Cranes edge Shepolopolo of Zambia in the third place playoff.
She was nominated in the FUFA Female footballer of the year category and managed to come second behind goalkeeper Ruth Aturo.
Akiror harbours plans of playing beyond the boarders and states she works harder everyday to make sure the dream comes true.
” I think we have dominated the local scene as Kawempe Muslim and the target for me as an individual is to look for new challenges. I keep pushing harder to make sure, I achieve my dream of playing in the United States. “
Full names: Jones Tracy Akiror
Date of Birth: 25th August 1997
Place of birth: Mulago, Kampala
Playing positions: Defensive and attacking midfielder
Current team: Kawempe Muslim
Shirt Number: 8
Role Model: Tonny Mawejje
Education: Luzira Church of Uganda, Luzira (Primary), St Mary’s Nsumba (O-Level), St Jullian, Gayaza (A-Level), Kampala University (University)
2005-2007 Destiny Soccer Academy
2010-2012 Saska Academy
2013-2014 UCU Lady Cardinals
2014- Kawempe Muslim
2016 – Crested Cranes
Winner (FUFA Women Elite League): 2014/2015, 2015/2016, 2016/17 and 2017/18)
2017/18 FUFA Women Elite MVP
Silver Medalist with Crested Cranes at the 2018 Women’s CECAFA Championship
Bronze Medalist with Crested Cranes at the 2018 Women’s COSAFA Championship
Additional information by David Isabirye.