Why Ugandan forward Bageya won’t mind Kenyan call

Tuesday, April 7th, 2020 00:00 |
Bageya in training. Photo/PD/File

Ugandan forward Jimmy Bageya is a household name in Kenya than in his  country of birth.

It is perhaps why Bageya feels more at home here that he would not mind changing citizenship and even donning the Harambee Stars jersey some day.

The Nairobi City Stars striker is the typical football journeyman. He left Uganda over 15 years ago has never returned to play home.

He has spent most of those years playing in Kenya sandwiched between stints in Singapore, India, Rwanda and Botswana.

Bageya has played for Kenyan Premier League champions Gor Mahia, AFC Leopards, Nairobi City Stars, Bandari, Kakamega Homeboyz and the defunct Nakumatt.

In the intervening period, he has become popular in the country which he now calls his second home and would not have problems making it permanent.

“What leads us to change citizenship sometimes is if they have been treating you well like I have been in Kenya and that is why I would not regret changing nationality,” Bageya told People Sport in an interview at Camp Toyoyo grounds.

However, while he is eligible, changing nationality would be a delicate balancing act for Bageya. First, he has to agree with his family and then there is the small matter of the law.

According to the Kenyan Constitution, a person who has been married to a citizen for a period of at least seven years is entitled on application to be registered as a citizen same as a person who has been lawfully resident in Kenya for a continuous period of at least seven years.

Both scenarios would work perfectly for Bageya since he is married to a Kenyan woman and he has also lived in the country for over seven years.

The other avenue would be through dual citizenship which luckily for him is acceptable in both Kenya and Uganda.

“It is not easy though. The decision has to come from me, then I have to talk to my family and reach an agreement. I have to be happy also but since I have enjoyed my time here, there is no problem,” added Bageya.

The forward, who can also play on the wing, however knows playing for Harambee Stars would not be a walk in the park even if he was to acquire a Kenyan passport. 

“In 2016/2017 when in was playing in KPL, they approached me (Kenya) then I told them there are some papers I have to sign and then play for them if a chance comes. But first, I must prove that I am worthy to be there,” said Bageya.

What has been striking for the father of one during his stay in Kenya has been his love for Nairobi City Stars. While he has played for five other Kenyan teams, this is his third stint with the Kawangware-based side after re-joining them from Singapore last year.

He attributes this to the good relationship he has with the club and the people of Kawangware.

“When I scored crucial goals and saved them from relegation a couple of seasons ago, they believed in me since. Even when I leave, they always give me a release letter without any problems unlike other teams that demand a lot of money just to frustrate you. Because of that, I always want to give back with good performances,” said Bageya, who terms the club’s relegation from the top flight in 2016 as his lowest moment.

Since their relegation, City Stars have been perennial strugglers in the National Super League and almost sunk to the third tier Division One in 2018.

However, things began to change in the latter stages of last season and they were on course to return to the top flight before this campaign was suspended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, leading the 19-team league with 64 points from 26 matches, 10 ahead of second-placed Bidco United. 

“Things changed when they got the sponsor. The motivation makes players do their best. That is what encouraged me to come back so that I can help them get up again,” said Bageya in reference to the Jonathan Jackson Foundation, which has transformed the club since acquiring it in 2019. 

Bred at Entebbe Young Football Club, the former St Mary’s Kitende student is known for his directness as he races towards the goal.

Bayega started his career at Entebbe Young Football Club where he also runs an academy. He has also played in Singapre and had spells in Rwanda (Etincelles), Bostwana (PDF), India and in Zambia with NAPSA Stars.

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