MEET UR TOP GOA 30 My father never liked the idea of me playing football. I always got caned whenever he found out that I had been involved in anything soccer related. My mother on the other hand was rather supportive. She always sneaked me out to play and also took the time to calm me down, dry my tears and whisper to me that my dreams were valid. She bought me my first pair of boots after playing barefooted for a very long time…” narrates 20 year old Alionzi Nafian. By Josiah Mugabi Alionzi is a top goal keeper playing with URA FC and a one time winner of the prestigious Mapenduzi International Awards for best footballer. We found Alionzi Nafian kit up in a soiled black training jersey complete with gloves on a chilly afternoon at the URA FC training grounds in Gayaza, Wakiso District.
31 A FC’S L KEEPER Sponsored by Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Alionzi is a second year student studying a Bachelors in Business Administration at Makerere Business School, Nakawa. Alionzi is very thankful for the opportunity of getting a university education courtesy of URA. And although he`s mentioned that it is very tough to balance between school and work with the URA Football Club, he`s opted to pursue an evening schedule for class to help balance the two demands. Alionzi Nafian grew up in Arua, Arua hill and never dreamt of coming to Kampala. Born in a family of two children, his father was unable to pay school fees for him and his brother. His love for football and support from his mother was how he was able to push through from primary and secondary school. He was enrolled at Arua Public School on bursary while playing with Onduparaka at Regional Level. He was selected amongst the top 11 players to travel to South Africa under the Dream Team in 2011. It is during this period that Abdullah Mubiru a soccer scout took interest in him and brought him on board with Kibuli Secondary School from where he completed his A-Level education. In 5 years, Alionzi envisions himself as an international player with his dream team – Barcelona FC. He also further describes himself as one of the greatest yet to be discovered! He thoughtfully expresses that his greatest inspiration has been his mother who always watched him play while in Arua and always looked forward to the day she would hear her son’s name in the media. Mindful of how far he has come, Alionzi encourages the youth to pursue their dreams no matter what. He says, “It has nothing to do with your height, as it is usually perceived”. He further explains that despite his rather short stature, he pretty much does good job as a goal keeper and even boasts about his award for it. He also affirms that the mentality other young people have towards football players not being able to academically excel is very wrong and he is proving them wrong and has continuously done so since childhood. The sky is no longer the limit for Alionzi. Alionzi`s favorite meal is Kalo and pasted chicken which he has not eaten in a very long time since he left home. He is clearly passionate about how great the food back home tastes by referring to it as the ‘original recipe’ calling the one in Kampala modified as he giggles about it. Thankful to God for his talent, his team members and the URA FC coach for great nurturing, Alionzi hopes to achieve more milestones together with his team and take Ugandan Football to the next level.