- Unfortuntate Incident. Nkata is innocent until proven guilty but the law of averages dictates that many footballers will be caught.
I grew up in Old Kampala and I had this ritual that involved breaking my daily trek back home from Nakasero Primary school with a detour into ‘Wembley’ or where Mukwano Shopping Mall now stands.
Back then it was Kyaggwe Road Primary School and its playground was training ground for Express FC.
This is where we fell in love with the game, long before televised football infatuated an entire nation.
And one of the men responsible for this undying passion was Paul ‘latest’ Nkata. He would later move on to SC Villa, but it was at Express that his wizardry was introduced to us.
He was tactically ahead of his times, too, because he never stopped at tackling.
His ability to pick a pass meant he also initiated transitions at a time when defensive midfielders owed their reputations to the number of knee caps they shattered. He also had this knack for reading passes before they were made which is perhaps why he was always deployed as a destroyer even if he had the software configuration of a playmaker.
I imagine he would have been Pep Guardiola’s kind because the one player he reminds me off today is Fernandinho. Anyway, in my juvenile eyes he could do no wrong.
Even the fouls he committed were someone else’s fault. So, it was with utter shock that I learnt about the accusations by his Kenyan employers, Home Boyz Football Club.
Apparently, Nkata has been throwing games and according to club owner Celophas Shimanyula, an inquest into his team’s poor performance revealed the 58-year-old tactician would bet on losses and pay some players up to Kenya Shillings 200,000 (Shs7.5m) to lose those games.
No credible judge
My historical endearment to the man doesn’t make me a credible judge on these matters but before I disqualify myself allow me to point out that soon or later this was going to happen. In other words, even if Nkata is innocent until proven guilty, the law of averages dictates that there are many footballers and managers out there waiting to be caught and I said as much when the Fahad Kawooya match-fixing story broke at the end of 2016.
For me, the issue here is that match-fixing offers more and delivers quicker than the industry does. And at the risk of rationalizing a crime that carries a life sentence, match-fixing and its promise of ‘instant riches’ for minimal effort, offers a logical path to its victims.
I guess there are no lesser crimes here but when the culprits are the games heroes what else are we left with? It worries me, but not as much as the hush from Nkata. It’s been two weeks now and bolting back from Kenya without as much as a word, then or now, is starting to feel like a confession with each passing day.
If it turns out that the accusations are true, then he should bear his cross but what shall we do to arrest this situation?