Q. Who is Julius Masereka?
A. I am an active sportsman in disability sports in Uganda. I come from a sports family. I am 29 years old with clubfoot. Both of my feet are bent towards each other. I was born like that. I play sit ball, sitting volleyball, cricket, table tennis and long tennis.
Q. How did you get involved in sports?
A.I started playing football in 1994 when I was in school. I was the goalkeeper of St. John Primary School and Old Kampala High School where I studied. Because of my disability, I could not manage playing other positions but I performed very well as a goalkeeper.
Q. How did you get involved in disability sports?
I was inspired in 1998 when I watched on TV persons with disabilities playing sports. I started looking for where they were training from and I found them in Nakivubo. I asked to join them and they allowed me. We were trained ahead of some competitions that took place in Lugazi. I played with the likes of Ali Mukasa, Bashir Mutyaba, Musa Kajubi, Ronald Kaggwa, Joseph Mawerere, among others.
Q. Who inspired you to join sports?
A. Sports is in my blood. I come from a family where there are many sports people. I have three brothers Tina Kambale, Dunia Mambo and Piko Masumbuko playing for National Super League teams. Kambale plays for Sports Club Villa, Mambo and Masumbuko play for Fire Masters.
Q. What have you achieved so far in sports?
A. I have not achieved so much but I know the good things will come. However, I have travelled to Rwanda Rwanda three times and once in Kenya where we played in different tournaments. So I have toured. My mission for participating in sports is to become a celebrity and I have started to realise this because I am now known here in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya.
Last year, Uganda hosted the sit ball World Cup Competitions and we played with many teams from all over the world. The players for those teams now know me. I have got many friends, experience and also got a chance to interact with fellow persons with disabilities from other countries.
I also got a medal and three certificate for participating in different tournaments. In 1998 I was also voted the best smasher after a friendly sit ball match between Uganda and Rwanda.
Q. Last year Uganda hosted the World Cup for Sit ball and the Ugandan teams did not perform well. Why?
A. Uganda fielded three teams, two for men and one for women. The best men’s <leo_highlight leohighlights_underline=”true” leohighlights_url_bottom=”http%3A//shortcuts.thebrowserhighlighter.com/leonardo/plugin/highlights/3_1/tbh_highlightsBottom.jsp?keywords%3Dteam%26domain%3Dunapd.org” leohighlights_url_top=”http%3A//shortcuts.thebrowserhighlighter.com/leonardo/plugin/highlights/3_1/tbh_highlightsTop.jsp?keywords%3Dteam%26domain%3Dunapd.org” leohighlights_keywords=”team”>team was 5th while the women were 2ndafter being beaten by Rwanda in the finals.
Rwanda also won in the men’s category. The morale in the Ugandan camp was very low because players had no money even for basic needs. The President promised us 100 million but it came several days after the tournament.
We even entered the pitch for our first game without jerseys and we had to be called out when they arrived at kick-off time. It was some of the players who went out to shop for the jerseys and so they were panicking and could not concentrate on the game.
Q. You are now training in Lugogo. What are you preparing for?
A. We are preparing to participate in the qualifiers for Olympics Games to take place in Rwanda in August 2011. The best teams will be selected to represent Africa in the Olympics Games to take place in London in 2012.
And we have a coach John Brosbase from England who wants to take eight talented women in sitting volleyball to train them in England ahead of the qualifiers in Rwanda. He will also select 12 men and take them to England. I am working hard to be part of the people to go and train from England.
Q. What challenges have you faced in sports?
A. No major challenges apart from transport to go for training. We have no sponsors and everyone pays for him/her self. I have no job yet I have to pay transport everyday. And those who work find it a great challenge to leave their jobs and spend money to go for training where it will not be refunded. If we get a sponsor, everything will be okay because many players do not turn out for training because of the transport problem.
Q. What is the way forward?
A. I call upon Ugandans or companies to sponsor us. I also appeal to fellow players to behave well during the trainings, respect the coach and teammates. Focus on the future not the present or past. We have to sacrifice now to have a brighter future.