On Tuesday, Uganda woke up to the sad news of the passing of Brigadier General Tushabe Jackson Bell, a decorated Soldier and owner of former Victors FC.
Since then, many have come out with condolence massages, flooding social media and different websites.
Federation of Uganda Football Association President, Moses Magogo has also paid tribute to the fallen Col. Bell.
Yesterday 30th June 2020, I woke up to a text message from someone on the bedside of Col Bell communicating the passing on of the decorated Soldier. It was just a few minutes from the moment he breathed his last. “Afande is gone” that was all in the message. Agonising news but it was the reality
Although I had heard about a football enthusiastic military man who owned a football club called Victors, I first physically met Brigadier General Tushabe Jackson Bell on the 17th December 2005 then popularly known as Col. Bell (Afande). His first words to me were, *_”anatunda omupiira kati sasi”_* meaning whoever sells a match will now be shot by a bullet; of course humourous and joking as he always was
We had just been appointed members of the Executive Committee of FUFA by Dr. Mulindwa in his maiden term as FUFA President. In the first Executive committee of FUFA, he was appointed Chairman of the Competitions Committee and I was appointed the secretary of the Competitions Committee. He became directly my boss.
The Secretary Competitions Committee was one of the most demanding and yet powerful positions in football then and our revolution was to clean up competitions that had gone to the dogs with match fixings and hooliganism. I was not yet 30 years and was still an active footballer. I signed my own player license on behalf of FUFA for 2 seasons before a coup was arranged by Mr. Mugisha to stop me from playing (A story of another day). The success we made to restore the integrity and improvement of competitions had a great input of both Col Bell and Dr. Mulindwa as my bosses
Young, naïve, innovative, fearless, very energetic with passion to organise fair competitions, I took the bull by its horns. I definitely stepped on many toes and created a new normal. Col Bell my chairman provided me with all the support and cover I needed. I can confidently say I am the administrator that I am today because I was groomed and allowed to blossom directly by Col. Bell and of course Dr. Lawrence Mulindwa. Col Bell was my chairman for 6 years and he accommodated my mistakes, directed me where I was going off rail and protected me where I was right against many.
There is a time, Bunamwaya FC (the club owned by the FUFA President) used a player with a red card and the committee had to take the decision to deduct 6 points. Of course the likes of Haruna Kyobe could not believe this but when I explained the rules to Col. Bell, he called Dr. Mulindwa and explained it to him, I met the FUFA President and the best interest for the game was to implement the rules. It sounds easy after but not a simple thing then. These 2 gentlemen allowed me to implement the rules
One other incident, Victors FC used a player with three (3) cards inadvertently against Express FC and at that time Express could be relegated so the rules would require that three points be awarded to Express FC. I explained to my 2 bosses that no one would ever believe that this was inadvertent. I suggested we wait to take the decision and stretch Express FC to fight for its survival on the pitch for the integrity of the Competitions. Another hard and risky one but my 2 seniors believed and supported me and Express FC fought on the pitch up to even winning the Uganda Cup that season
There are countless incidents that Col Bell stood up for me. Most notable when the big clubs wanted me to be removed from the powerful position of Competitions Secretary because I did not offer preferential treatment they always enjoyed before. For example, on behalf of the committee;
1. I had warned and denied KCC FC not to use Owen Kasule with three (3) yellow cards having accumulated 2 in the lower league and one (1) in KCC FC as prohibited by the rules,
2. I had denied villa outside the window registration of Ibrahim Kongo as prohibited by the rules
3. I had ordered the replay of Express FC without fans in the morning at Nakivubo and enforced it for the first time in reaction to a match aborted by hooliganism in accordance with the prevailing rules then.
The clubs thought I was being too much but Col Bell put down his foot that I can only leave if he is leaving too. And the clubs had to accept the status quo.
About 2011, Col Bell became ill and could no longer execute his football roles and was eventually replaced by Mr. Magoola Issa as I was promoted to become the FUFA Vice President-Administration. We have since been chatting, talking and sometimes visiting him and he was as jolly as always. He always said “Va ku basilu abo” literally meaning ignore this people. Into his last days, he was always listening to radio programmes of sports and you would be shocked how current he was
I can write about Col Bell until the cows come home but what a disciplinarian yet humanitarian administrators he was. He loved football, he loved Victors FC, he loved his family
Credit or Fault Col. Bell and Dr. Mulindwa for the football administrator I have become that you love or hate
My boss has always been a great battler winning many wars; he has fought a great battle for his life for the last 10 years and for me despite the pain of losing our loved one, it has been a battle he has won. I thank the family particularly auntie Victors and Benjamin Jamhuri for the support to our friend, our father, our brother as the football family
Go rest my boss, it is just your time now and it is the decision of God that is never wrong. All of us will join you one day, it is a matter of time
On my own behalf and that of the football family, we deliver our condolences to the family, the football fraternity, and the UPDF