Kampala- At the start of the campaign, SC Villa striker Bashir Mutanda set himself a number of objectives.

Eleven games into the season, and the 20-year old has scored most of Jogoos’ goals, nine, out of the team’s 13.

It has been a slow start for the record 16-time league champions to this year’s season as the team has earned just two wins so far. But single handedly, Mutanda has earned valuable points for the team and he has been one of the stars of such a deplorable season.

Rejectin after rejection
In 2015, Mutanda left Real College Busunju to join St Mary’s SS Kitende as a highly rated striker. But he was sparingly used as Kitende lifted the Copa Coca-Cola Schools Cup in Hoima. He was down in the pecking order behind Alfred Leku, Shaban Muhammad and Pius Wangi when Kitende won their last schools’ trophy.

At the end of the 2015/16 season, he was part of the Vipers’ winning team that lifted the Fufa Juniors League title with the likes of Shaban, Ashraf Mandela, Fred Atuhera, Methodius Jjungu, James Ahebwa, Geoffrey Wasswa, Derrick Ochan, Frank ‘Zaga’ Tumwesigye, Ashraf Bamuturaki, Bashir Asiku and Alex Komakech, among others.

But he was overlooked for the top scorer’s gong which was awarded to Bul’s Hamis Tibita, who had nine goals ahead of Mutanda who had scored 11 times for the champions.

Hopes abound
His inspiration at the time was Joseph Mpande, at the time Vipers played in Buikwe.

“He was a pillar in the Vipers team yet he was very calm on the ball,” Mutanda recalls.

He was hoping to get a place in the team which he liked ‘because it was playing good football and players were being paid well.’

His dream came true when he was named in the 2016/17 squad. But after the first round, Mutanda was given devastating news that he would not be retained at the club.

He had played four games with one start against SC Villa before he was let to go alongside John Semazzi (now in Rwanda) and Collins Agaba as Alfred Leku and Joseph Semujju turned down the loan offer.

Although Vipers have not regretted letting the youngster go, his former coach, Ronald Ssali is still in touch with him.

“I felt like I was a failure, of course. But I knew I was young. I still had time to develop and to show that I had what it takes to be a top player one day.

“I took about a month to realise I had left Vipers and now I was a Bul player. It made me stronger, of course,” explained Mutanda, who also plays for Lugave clan. Determined not to see another loan, the 5.7ft right-footed forward responded in style scoring four goals for Bul.

But head coach Miguel Da Costa snubbed him for the opportunity to travel with the largely youthful team to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania for the Cecafa Kagame Cup.

He spoke with Vipers owner Lawrence Mulindwa to allow him join another club. Although Mulindwa was hesitant, he granted him his wish.

I know what I’mable of cap
“I am aware of what I am capable of,” Mutanda explained. “I had proved that I have what it takes to be a key player at Vipers.

“Now I have an opportunity, it is up to me to continue performing regularly. I have to keep working hard, going over every mistake, always looking to improve.”

Mutanda looks at the rejection as the springboard that set him on the path that led to him becoming the most valuable player at SC Villa today.

“It feels nice because the club has faith in me, the technical staff, everyone has faith in me. It is an honour.”

“I had an opportunity to play in Saudi Arabia but I was looking for game time and when Moses Basena, called me over the phone, it was very clear. He promised me that I would get playing time, that I would enjoy my football, and that he would help me improve,” he reveals. Mutanda, a versatile player, who can play on the wings as well as a false nine, was entrusted as the lead striker.

Daring and quick, Mutanda, who can shoot from range and head the ball so well, is Villa’s rising star who has become a legitimate candidate to join the senior national team, the Uganda Cranes. However, he will not get carried away yet.

“It is every player’s dream to represent his country. But there are a number of lads ahead of me who have been there for a while. I am fully focused on SC Villa and that is enough for now.” But he is learning to inspire others using his career path.

“I want to see the kids making their dreams and they should know that everything is possible with hard work and determination.”