One of the recently-proposed requirements of every top-flight football team is to have a team medic at all times.
Ideally, this is a necessity in order for the Uganda Premier League to be called professional.
Realistically, the move is a tall order for the simple reason that most clubs don’t have financial capability to pay a qualified team doctor at all games.
Indeed, it takes a selfless person to work in Ugandan football given the regularity of unpredictable events.
But if there is one man who has seen it all over the past few decades, it is Ronald Kisolo.
You may have seen him during national team matches, running up and down to check on injured players, but that is just a fraction of his tasks.
Kisolo holds a special place among footballers from all walks of life simply because they all run to him for treatment. Most times for free.
Off the field, Kisolo passes off as any other football fanatic; a jolly fella that mixes and mingles with everyone.
Perhaps that explains his closeness with players and fans alike.
Beyond the high-spiritedness and his youthful posture is the compulsive need to work. On any day, Kisolo can be found at his Harold Polyclinic in Naalya, where he switches from his trademark tracksuits into the intimidating doctor’s gown.
On this Wednesday when I paid courtesy call on him, his schedule had some Express FC players to treat.
That has always been his way of life since 1988 when he joined mainstream football as a medic.
Kisolo was an Express diehard while at Makerere University but it was until he finished his general medicine degree that he came to be a profound figure. He comes from a football family and his brother Julius Kibuuka played for Coffee FC Kisolo has always been Express FC supporter.
UGANDA CRANES CALLING
His induction into football came in 1988 after completion of a sports medicine course, a pilot project conducted by Dr James Sekajugo. Kisolo’s peers included late Twalib Matovu, Badru Nsereko, Ibrahim Dafala, Wilberforce Sekirime and Achiles Katamba.
The arrival of these doctors was a sigh of relief to top-flight clubs, many of whom had no qualified physicians. However, non-payment from clubs saw some of the doctors leave football. Kisolo somehow soldiered on and by 1990; he was the sole survivor among the previous crop.
His breakthrough came in December 1990 when Fufa picked him to accompany The Cranes to Zanzibar for the Cecafa Cup tournament. Though it was his first assignment for the senior side, Kisolo did a recommendable job, especially when half of the squad fell sick due to malaria.
Uganda went on to win the tournament and since then Kisolo was appointed the Uganda Cranes official team doctor. This came at a time when Express had lost the services of two doctors John Mutumba and Adam Kimala in a space of two-years, so, the Red Eagles also took up Kisolo.
Kisolo (L) on Cranes duty with then team manager Asumani Lubowa in 2005
His profile continued to soar when he travelled as Uganda team doctor at the 1991 All Africa Games in Cairo. However, the highlight of his services came in September 1996 when the National Council of Sports appointed him team manager for the 1996 Olympics team.
He was retained by NCS to manage the Uganda team for the 1999 All Africa Games. Ever present on The Cranes touchline, several top players at the time such as Magid Musisi, Ibrahim Sekagya, Jackson Mayanja, Sulaiman Tenywa and Edgar Watson among others, turned to Kisolo for private treatment.
Kisolo’s moments on the touchline have not always been rosy. In 1997, he parted company with Express when the incoming executive of Meddie Ssebaggala viewed him as a loyalist for the preceding administration of Vincent Bbale Mugera.
Kisolo (L) while Express team doctor in 1997 with then club coach Dragan Popadic
Then in 1999 when Fufa failed to pay allowances for Cranes players on top of offering a substandard diet in the camp, Kisolo openly sided with the players. He quit shortly after.
The two are rare incidents to come out in the open even though Kisolo is naturally a cagey character and never opens up about players’ health and injuries by virtue of his professional code of conduct.
But despite leaving The Cranes setup, he still offered free medical service to Cranes players and when a new Fufa executive took office in 2005, it paved way for his return into The Cranes fold, a position he still holds today.
– Born in 1959 to Ashe Kitandwe and Tereza Nabadda of Nabbingo
– Studied at St Joseph PS Nabbingo, Lubiri SS, Makerere College and Makerere University
– He has been part of The Cranes bench in seven Cecafa triumphs (1990, 1992, 1996,
– 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012)
– He was the Uganda team manager at the 1996 Olympic Games as well as the 1999 All Africa Games
– He was Express FC team doctor between 1990 to 2005
– He is the vice chairman of the Fufa medical committee
– Between 1998 and 2005, he was a member of Namboole stadium management
The author is operations director of The Observer Media Ltd.