- Soccer. Just last month, 14-year-old Shaun Kato Senkubuge had his two-year contract with London side Tottenham extended by another two seasons until 2021, proof that they like what they are seeing until 2021, proof that they like what they are seeing
KAMPALA. One Friday evening, retired KCC (now KCCA) defender Moses Senkubuge went to see his teenage son play football at the boy’s then London Oakthorpe Primary School after classes.
Most parents who have children trying out football there often go to watch their kids play every day before retiring home.
“One of the parents next to me was quite talkative,” Senkubuge, now 51, narrated to SCORE.
“That kid is good. Wow! He is going to be like Jermaine Defoe or even better,” said the parent.
“It was music to my ears,” Senkubuge, who was back in Uganda to bid farewell to his late mum, told us, “Well,” he told the other parent, grinning from ear to ear, “He is my son.”
“Really,?” came the other parent, “You are lucky.”
Actually, Senkubuge never regularly picked his son, Shaun Kato Senkubuge, now 14, from school, because of his busy London subway job. Shaun’s mum did.
So on the day, Senkubuge arrived to check out his son play but made sure Shaun did not see him.
“I knew he had what it takes to be a footballer,” Senkubuge said of his son, “He was in Year 4 but was playing with kids in Year 6.”
It was from his school that local academy Edmonton Rangers, who work with children aged between 6 to 17 years, scouted Shaun.
He was 10 at the time. Arsenal interest, Cambridge move
Shaun went on to top score in the Sunday League that season (his dad does not recall the number of goals) and several clubs including Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich, West Ham, Chelsea and Cambridge all came knocking at Senkubuge’s door.
One of the scouts drove from Cambridge to Senkubuge’s house, some two hours away from London.
“Please,” pleaded the scout, “I drove all the way from Cambridge for the boy. Trust me and give me the boy. Trust me you will not regret,” the scout made his case to Senkubuge.
Shaun’s dad could not resist. “I later on drove the boy to Cambridge, he played a game there, impressed and they requested that I bring him again the following weekend for a tournament they wanted to see him in,” explained Senkubuge.
Shaun was also given an opportunity to train with the main Cambridge academy, and after two weeks, he was invited for a match between Cambridge and West Bromwich. “After that match,” said Senkubuge, “They had seen enough. That was early 2017. Cambridge signed him immediately and he played for them for one season in the U11.”
In his the second season playing for Cambridge U12, clubs including Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea started sniffing around for him again.
The youngster played in a few more tournaments and the more he played, the more interest grew from the mentioned clubs.
“So one day,” explained Senkubuge, Shaun’s dad, “The Cambridge manager phoned me saying, ‘something has come up.’
“Shaun has been good,” the Cambridge manager told Senkubuge, “Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham have all made inquiries but with his style, we would recommend he goes to Spurs.”
That made sense to Senkubuge. Tottenham is walking distance to his house. But that was not all. Shaun still had to do trials at Spurs.
“So, with clearance from Cambridge, Spurs phoned me and we met. What surprised me once at Spurs was that all this time, they had been following up and documenting Shaun.
“They played for us video of him from all his previous matches. They took me around the club, the ground to take in all the history. It was a dream come true.”
The game changer
Shaun was to later be handed a six week’s trial with Spurs. Yet they never had to wait for six weeks, really.
That same day, the boy trained with Spurs and the following day, Senkubuge was asked to go back - but this time with his wife, also Shaun’s mum.
“We are signing up the kid,” Spurs told Senkubuge and the wife.
They paid £60,000 (Shs297m) to Cambridge and tied up the boy from theb2017/18 season to 2018/19.
Cambridge then held a match to officially see Shaun off, in which the boy starred once more.
In the contract Spurs would provide everything for Shaun to take him to the next level.
They would also get Shaun, who is now studying at Lea Valley High School, a school tutor to take care of Tuesdays and Thursdays when he leaves school at 2pm for training.
The boy, who can play across the front three, has since grown from strength to strength.
Extended Spurs deal
He is so full of potential that just last month, Spurs wrote to Senkubuge informing him they had extended his contract.
“Academy End of Season Decision - Shaun Senkubuge,” read an email to Shaun’s dad, “As per your recent meeting with your coach, I write to inform you that after much consultation with the Academy staff, it is with great pleasure to confirm that Tottenham Hotspur Football Academy would like to retain Shaun for the 2019/2020 and 2020/21 seasons.
“This offer is in accordance with Premier League rules and is for two seasons.
“This decision is reward for the continued progression he has shown in our programme over the last 12 months.
“Under Premier League rules, a PLYD ( Youth Development contract) Form 9 will be emailed as official notification, and this copy should be kept for your own records.
“The process of retention does not require any further paperwork/action from you.” The email was signed off by Dean Rastrick, Tottenham Hotspur Academy Manager.
Asked whether the boy considers himself Ugandan or British, Ssenkubuge said “I’d love to see him play for Uganda but it is not entirely up to me.
“My dream is for him to play for Uganda. I’m doing my best to tell him he is Ugandan and he believes that, and he has also been to Uganda.”
Yet that is not all for the Senkubuges. Shaun’s elder sister, 16-year-old Chantal Nampiima, plays rugby with the Saracens in London and has had a look-in in the England U18s.
From the look of things, and at every turn, the only lining the Senkubuges can see is that of silver.