Life before and after Football: former Cranes and Express FC captain Ibrahim Dafala opens up

Upon retiring from football 60 years ago, former Uganda Cranes and Express FC captain, the 86year-old Ibrahim Dafala, lives in regrettable life. Dafala who was once a football shining star, is now being helped by his sons who also have less to offer. NELSON EDWARD KASIMBI, caught up with the former sports guru;

Though the situation financially went out of hands, but upon mentioning his tittle “captain”, it painted a smile on his face. Having been a two-time captain for the national team and Express FC, football fans would expect a fat retirement package, as his successors,former captain Andy Mwesigwa who retired four years ago.

Upon arrival at his home in Katabi, Entebbe Municipality, former Cranes Captain Dafala ushered us inside his house where we found him dressed in his white tunic attire preparing for Juma prayers.

“You are welcome my grandsons, come inside, it has been so long when a reporter last visited me. These days am sick, and I have just lost my daughter who was diagnosed with cancer,” started the former football icon.

The old Ibrahim Dafala was born 86 years ago,in Kitubulu in Katabi Town Council, in Wakiso district, to the late Dafala Kweti as his father, and the late Kadali Dafala, as his mother. He began his journey as a footballer at 22 years. “Football had few fans, since the country was not stable and people had little information about football compared to other indoor games like omweso,” he said.

Surprisingly, the Captain still remembered some of his colleagues whom he played with during his time as a footballer. “Joining Express FC, I found players like Jimmy Ssewava, Alex Wido, and Ali Kitonsa,” recalled Dafala.

He had first played for express for ten years, and later chosen by a man called Joseph William Kiwanuka, who led him to join the Cranes from where he was crowned captain of the national team, a position he fully enjoyed. “In the early 1950s, the game was not politicized like it is today, where FUFA cannot make decisions without interference of government,”Dafala pointed.

Speaking about his retirement, the former footballer intimated that in his time as a footballer, sports was not paying at all, but instead gave fame. “That time, football was not for money, but it only gave you a name, making you recognized, and sometimes spectators where the ones giving us money, basing on performance,”narrated Dafala.


In his free time,Dafala spends his time reading Quran, and sometimes having a chat with his grandchildren. About his legacy as a professional footballer, the former captain says, he has taught his children to use the little they have, and even make friends that can help them walk millions of miles, in order not to end up in a lone-boring life.

At some point, the footballer could not help but to pause and regret the time he spent in the national team wishing, had he had put all his energy in other disciplines, he would be living a celebrated life like his retired agemates in the neighborhood.

“The government forgot us long time ago without any support yet we were the shapers of football game in Uganda,”noted Dafala. The former captains did not forget to advise young footballers to do what they do as they remember that being young is just for a time being. He said, they should as well invest whatever they get so that they don’t end up in a miserable retirement life.

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