Writes Leo Odera Omolo In Kisumu City.

AS the Cecafa football tournament for this year is just coming to remembering, how it is all started in 1939. It was originally called Gossage Cup, named after an Englishman a colonial civil servant who worked in Kenya as the Commissioner for Community Development Mr Gossage.

Originally only three national football teams competed. These were Kenya, Tanganyika and Uganda with the Isles of Zanziber and Pemba posting a team which later participated in the regional tournament in 1940.

For all those years the prestigious regional football tournament was being held on rotation between stadiums in Nairobi, Kampala, Dar Es Salaam and later on the matches were staged in Zanzibar. The winners were exclusively from Uganda and Kenya while Tanganyika and Zanzibar remained the underdogs every year without a win.

However, the tournament has expanded dramatically years after the end of colonial rules in the countries of East, southern and Central African regions.

The final matches used to attract the presence of the four colonial goernors of the region with reception of Zanzibar which was already enjoying semi-indpendent status as a British Protectorate under the Sultan asyyed assayed of Zanzibar who occasionally used to sit in the VIP podium with the three colonial governors of Kenya, Tangsnyika and Uganda.

Football matches were very popular thereby pulling huge crowd of people, particularly in Nairobi where the now vintage City Stadium was the popular venue. In Kampala Nakifubo Stadium featured in the games while Ilala Stadium in Dar Es Salaam host the games in Tanganyiks.

However, the Gossage Cup games changed face in November 1950 when a young, but highly talented Kenyan footballer suddenly appeared for the Tanganyika team. His name was William Nahashon Ong”weya {Ragwel] from Kobura Masogo sub-location in Kisumu district. Ong”weya learnt football games wile studying at Maseno high School and later joined the defunct East African Railways and Harbors corporation and was posted to work In the lakeside town of Mwanza. As a shed clerk.

He began his football career in Tanganyika by turning up in the local leagues where he played for the Railways. It was during this time when his talents caught the eyes of the Tanganyika national team officials who promptly included hi in the national first eleven team.

In 1950, William NAHASHON was among the the Tanganyika team players who represented that country at the end of the Zanzibar, but the following year 1951 he had changed position from the utility player [No 10} to that of inside right wearing [shirt No8].The tall and slender Kenyan produced the ball jagling style that that took everyone by surprise. The home team beat Kenya 3-2 and clinched the cup for that year. Tohisown credit Ongweya scored two of the three goals for Tanganyika to the excitement of everyone including the three governors, namely Sir Edward Twinning {Tanganyika}, Sir Andrew Cohen {Uganda} an Si Evelyn Baring of Kenya.nzibar. The excitement of the people of Tanganyika went a niche higher.

For the first rime, all the women Kitenge lassos produced by a Textile companies in Mwanza and Dar Es Salaam had the following printed words in Bold and capital letters .

In Kenya a famous guitarist W.W.Witts [ Owiti} from Gem Ulumbi composed a poplar song in praise of Ong”weya Ragwell. Saying the melody and lyrics that Wuod Kobura Ache lKende had joggled the ball and dodged all the teams before a capacity crowd including the four colonial governors. After retiring from the Railways service in the early 1960e, William Nahashon Ong”weya lived on in Tanzania, and died a blind man after poor health in 1980s. his wife has also Also died and buried IN Kano West and both

After the countries of East,Southern and Central African became independence in the early 60s, the annual football tournament was expanded from Gossage Cup to become Senior Challenge Cup. teams competing now in the tournament included Ethiopia, Malawi, Burundi, Tanzania, Zanzibar, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Southern Sudan.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *