A new short film was released last week about Varees Lukyamuzzi, a football player who has seen it all; from racism in Europe to not being paid while playing professionally. The film focuses on this unconventional Ugandan player who has been in and out of the AFC Leopards first team.
Abu Nuuman, a Kenyan actor and poet who made the film, said that he was moved by Varees' passion in doing everything that he could do to survive because football was not paying.
Abu sat down with the player to find out what influenced his return, how settled he is in the Kenyan football system and why he chose East Africa over the more established West African region where football is a religion.
“I met him through an acting work shop and he grew on me, and I decided to document his life in this short film for COPA90,” Abu told Buzz.
Whilst trying to make it as a professional, Varees works as a bus conductor, he raps, acts and is training to become a paramedic.
The fate of the African footballer playing in Africa, more often than not, comes with an added load of responsibility. Varees played football in Europe but opted to change the narrative of foreign exported talent by quitting and returning to Kenya to continue with his magic on the pitch.
“I went to Europe when I was 15 and joined Enköpings SK Fotboll academy. I did not know what racism was. One day, I went in to the swimming pool and everyone jumped out,” said Varees.
In Kenya, his survival is only guaranteed by the extra jobs he manages to secure. Training drills here, only help boost bodies of budding footballers who, unfortunately for many, never get to actualise their hopes of regular participation in matches or decent wages.
He adds that people think he had to have been bewitched since he moved from Europe and back to Africa, while everyone dreams of going to Europe. “They don't understand; the only person I knew there was my agent and it was not easy.”
The 8-minute film was funded by a newly-launched Creator Commissions initiative and published on COPA90's social media pages: YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Each month, there is a grant of up to sh130,000 from COPA90 which is accessible to any fan and filmmaker to tell a story they feel the football community should know about.