As highly anticipated, the Orange Block Busters (OBB) volleyball team has experienced a series of player departures, presenting Coach Waguma Yahaya with a significant challenge as they approach the upcoming season.
Following the recent exit of Jonathan Tumukunde, two more crucial players have decided to leave the Shukran Camp, raising concerns about the team’s future prospects.
The two latest departures are 25-year-old Brian Atuhaire and Cosmas Apunyo, both skilled receive attackers.
Brian, who had already established himself as a top seed in the top-flight league with title holders Sport-S, could be on the move to Entebbe Lakers, a team in the third division.
Meanwhile, Cosmas will cross the border to Burundi, seeking new opportunities. It is worth noting that Cosmas, a former nursing school student in Fort Portal, played a pivotal role in OBB’s league triumph during the 2021/22 season.
He even received the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award at the Nkumba Open 2022, a tournament which OBB won, as well as the title of Best Server at the Kabale University Open in 2022.
Coach Yahaya expressed gratitude for the contributions made by the departing players to the OBB family, stating,
“Players can leave anytime. We have replacements for anyone, so we just thank them for what they have done.”
He remained optimistic about the team’s future, mentioning the presence of five talented young players ready to step up and fight for the vacant positions.
“We have almost five young players who are ready to fight for these positions and grow more” Yahaya said.
One of the prospects Yahaya is considering for promotion to the senior team is receive attacker Ekelot Julius, an ambitious player who has shown promise throughout his journey in high school volleyball.
Amid the departures, Coach Yahaya highlighted the competitive level of Ugandan volleyballers, emphasizing that despite the club names they represent, they are all on a similar level in terms of individual abilities on the court.
“Ugandan volleyballers are almost on the same rating, only difference is the names of the clubs they play for but all are on the same level.” He commented.
The coach’s faith in the depth and potential of the squad stems from his longstanding history with the Orange Block Busters.
He took over coaching duties from Johnson Kawenywera, who departed soon after leading the team into the 2022/23 season playoffs.
Kawenywera, in turn, had replaced Luke Eittit, who succeeded Lawrence Yakan, the coach who left at the start of the season along with his assistant Jacob Ssenoga.
Although OBB still possesses a strong and experienced squad, the recent departures have undoubtedly raised concerns among fans and pundits alike.
The Eastern power house however continues to rely on several key players who remain pillars of strength for the team.
These include Opposite Ivan Ongom, Libero Sharif Nabangi (known as Fayzol), setter Hussein Adome, Kevin Kiplangat, who is the longest-serving active player, another setter, and Kenyan import Hakim, as well as center player Nathan Eduru.
But with only 15 days remaining until the closing of the 2023/24 transfer window, time will tell how Coach Yahaya manages to reinforce the team and navigate the challenges posed by these significant player exits.
OBB supporters eagerly await the new season, hoping that their beloved team can overcome this hurdle and continue destablizing the top four in Ugandan volleyball.