The Ugandan cricket community on Saturday, June 17th gathered at the Lugogo Cricket Oval to honor the remarkable contributions of Pitthy John Ndiko, a true legend in the sport, who will be turning 84 years old on the 4th of July next month.
Kisementi Jazz, and its partners ie Uganda Cricket Association, Absa Bank, Coca Cola Beverages Uganda (CCBU), and Castle Lite boldly undertook the initiative to pay tribute to living legends, defying conventions and acknowledging their profound influence on the sport.
Pitthy John Ndiko, affectionately known as PJ, was surrounded by family, friends, and numerous cricket enthusiasts as he received the heartfelt recognition he deserved.
Despite the afternoon showers, the event was highlighted by a thrilling cricket match between Team Ndiko and Team Pitthy, culminating in Team Ndiko’s victory by a close margin of five runs.
Reflecting on the significance of the occasion, PJ expressed his gratitude to the organizers, saying;
“It feels great to be celebrated. The future holds so much for the current generation of cricketers, as they have plentiful opportunities to capitalize on. The country now boasts more cricket facilities than we had in our time, and the sport has attracted sponsors.” Ndiko said.
Adding on that, “Back then, the struggle was finding people to sponsor the sport. I used to foot from Lugogo to Kawempe in search of posho to feed the students we had hosted during the Schools’ cricket weeks.”
He told Afrosports of his ongoing close interest in the sport, emphasizing his undeniable satisfaction with the progress made by those responsible for its administration.
Ndiko, visibly robust, concluded, “Had it not been for the rain this afternoon, I would have eagerly participated in today’s match, possibly playing for both teams.”
During his tenure as headmaster at Mwiri College, PJ. Ndiko played a pivotal role in nurturing young cricket talents through the Jinja Association of Cricket Clubs.
His commitment extended beyond his playing days as an all-rounder, to serving as a groundsman, team manager, caterer, and umpire, all in the pursuit of promoting cricket beyond the boundaries of Jinja.
One of his proudest achievements was organizing tours for young cricketers, tours that provided them with exposure around East Africa.
Guy Kimbowa Lutaaya, an ex-international cricketer who grew up under Mr. Ndiko’s guidance, expressed his gratitude, saying;
“We are forever grateful for the tours. Mr. Ndiko took us around East Africa where we played against formidable teams like Kenya.”
“During those tours, I had the honor of captaining the JACC team. The high level of cricket we played back then is all attributed to Mr. Ndiko, and I am thrilled that we are celebrating him today.” He said.
Ndiko’s passion for the game extended to his family as well. His son, Michael Ndiko, spoke of his father’s unwavering dedication, saying;
“Dad introduced me to cricket when I was just four years old. I didn’t have the opportunity to watch him play during his prime, but from what I witnessed, he was incredible. He served as a tremendous inspiration for my cricket career and guided me extensively in the early stages of the game.” Michael said.
The celebration of Pitthy John Ndiko’s invaluable contributions to Ugandan cricket serves as a testament to his enduring legacy and the impact he has had on the sport and its players.
The event not only honored a living legend but also served as a beacon of hope for aspiring cricketers, highlighting the growth and opportunities that lie ahead.
Other than PJ, six other cricket legends have been honored up to this point.
Among them are the late Abram Kit Lutaaya and John Nagenda, as well as Sam Walusimbi, Sam Sewagudde, William Kamanyi and John Ezra Nsubuga, who was in attendance at PJ’s celebration.