By Agnes Amondi,
Kenya Women’s Premier League (KWPL) champions Vihiga Queens added to their arsenal 18 year old Ugandan import Joan Anita Abirye during the pre – season transfer window.
She penned a four year deal on an undisclosed fee that will keep her in the club until 2024.
She became the fourth foreign player to join the league after Sudan’s Amy Lasu and Nigerian Ebere in Makolanders as well as Clementine Mukamana who plays for the three time league champs.
Joan signed from Asubo Gafford which features in the FUFA Women’s Elite League – the second tier of Ugandan women’s football, where she had been since the 2017/18 season.
It is at this very club, having played 28 matches and scored eight league goals, that she managed to pick the eye of her next suitor, Vihiga whom she revealed has been on her radar for a while.
“I came to know about Vihiga Queens through Asubo Gafford Ladies and its management. I think they used to communicate with coach Alumirah Alex of Vihiga Queens club,” she noted.
In a separate interview at the time the deal closed, club CEO Michael Senelwa said that the technical bench opened talks with her after recommendations from their Ugandan counterparts.
“The coaching staff is responsible for squad development and improvement thus they initiated the process. The administration picked it up to provide the necessary requirements,” Senelewa explained.
It’s a little over a month now since she landed in Kenya and the teenager already speaks of her employer in glowing terms. So what is it about the club that made her accept the transfer?
“Vihiga Queens led the 2019 league championship therefore it’s a club of giants; that’s what I know about it,
“Also, it was due to the fact that they really like to see me shine so they used this first chance they got,” she added.
“On a personal level, I have always wanted to be a professional footballer. This will really prepare me for that. It is the first step to turning pro.” Anita underscored.
As for choosing KWPL to be her next destination even when clubs in the FUFA Women’s Super League back home – Uganda Christian University (UCU) club, Lady Doves , Kawempe Muslims and Kampala Queens chased for her signature, the Ugandan observed:
“The quality of the Kenyan league is higher than the Ugandan league that’s why I chose to move here,
She went on: “It is really interesting because it has groomed and brought better opportunities to many talented ladies who are now abroad, and I think it will help me too to achieve my goals.”
“I have already had training sessions with the club and it only affirmed my decision of coming here. It is really good though tiresome but it is all about enjoying every session,working hard and being co-operative.”
And as is the case with a lot of people, leaving home at a tender age to pursue a deep lying ambition is challenging and a ‘lonely’ journey.
It’s no different with Abirye as she admitted it wasn’t an easy decision but one that she needed to make as she hunts down her dreams.
“I am young but this is all about talent and the dreams I have. I really miss my parents and siblings but this is where my talent brought me so I am just strong and focused because I really know they are proud of me.”
Abirye is yet to make her debut in the league. Vihiga Queens is yet to play any games this season after their first match was postponed as most of its players were on assignment with the national team Harambee Starlets at the time.
She will have to wait even longer following the suspension of the league due to the coronavirus (COVID – 19) outbreak.
Vihiga Queens (Currently) – 2020 to 2024
Asubo Gafford Ladies – 2017 to 2019
Muteesa Royal University Club – 2017