The National Football League (NFL) is the home of football in the USA. This is one of the most typical, all-American sports but it has also had an international influence through the presence of many overseas players, from all the continents.
Among them, there have been relatively few Ugandans to play professional football over the years. Still, the ones that did have made quite an impact. The following are the stories of three of them.
Mathias Kagimu Kiwanuka
Although he was born in the USA, Kiwanuka’s surname confirms his links to Uganda. He is the grandson of the country’s first Prime Minister, Benedicto Kiwanuka. Born in Indianapolis in 1983, he excelled at football in school.
Kiwanuka played college football with Boston College and made a big impression, especially in terms of the number of sacks that he made. He then joined the NFL when the New York Giants picked him up in the 2006 draft.
His first professional contact was for five years and was worth $10 million. A strong career saw him win two Super Bowls and stay with the Giants until 2015. As for his background and his proud family history in Africa, Kiwanuka says that he never knew many of the details about the influence of his grandfather until he was grown up.
However, in 2010 he travelled to Uganda with the goal of helping to bring clean, running water to a school in the village that was once home to his mother’s family.
Born in Kampala in 1976, Serwanga played his early football for the Sacramento High School Dragons, before attending the University of California at Berkeley, the University of the Pacific, and Sacramento State University.
He played cornerback and was a standout in college football. This led to him joining the NFL in 1998, when he signed his first professional contract with the New England Patriots. He then went on to play for both the Washington Redskins and the New York Giants.
Throughout his NFL career, he racked up a total of over 20 tackles together with three sacks in the 58 competitive games he took part in. If you like betting on the NFL playoff odds online, you might have seen him play once.
The twin brother of Kato, Wasswa had a similar start to his football career as the brothers played, trained, and roomed together. The twins had left Uganda with their family in 1980, at the age of four, due to the uncertainty and instability felt in the country at the time. They settled in Sacramento, California and started playing sports together.
This ended when the University of the Pacific dropped its football program in 2010 and the brothers had to go their separate ways for the first time.
Serwanga’s professional clubs came in the period between 1999 and 2003. During this time, he played for the San Francisco 49ers, the Minnesota Vikings, and the Los Angeles Avengers. In close to 60 pro appearances in the NFL, he made a total of 21 tackles, three sacks, and three interceptions.
Who Will Be Next?
It has been a few years since a player from Uganda took part in an NFL game, although other players from around Africa have made the breakthrough.
With interest in the NFL growing in Uganda, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more players emerge from here in the near future. Could it be that Uganda becomes the place that produces the first star quarterback to come out of Africa?
More children than ever before are interested in watching this sport, so it is worth keeping an eye out for the latest stars from Uganda.
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