By Agnes Kansiime
“I love speed” is all Susan Muwonge says after I ask her why she chose to venture into rallying.
Although rallying had for long been a preserve for men, in 2006 Muwonge decided to take the plunge into the sport. This was after she was inspired by a few women such as Rose Rwakisaka and Leilah Mayanja.
She recollects that the start was not easy. Being new in the rally sport made her anxious.
“I did not know how I would handle, but I took courage and went for it,” she says.
Luckily, her husband, who happens to be a sports personality was very supportive.
Her first rally route was in Rakai and she emerged sixth. She did not give up and continued perfecting her skills untie her effort paid off.
In 2011, after a two day event that took place in Mukono district, Muwonge scooped the first championship trophy, beating her male counterpart Ponsiano Rwakataka. In 2018, Muwonge won the second Champion title.
Over the years, Muwonge has scooped at least 100 trophies, both local and international. In addition, she has been recognized by President Yoweri Museveni, Members of Parliament and Uganda Sports Press Association. Besides, through the sport she has made several friends.
She says rallying is a male-dominated sport, and women who participate in such sports are always despised by their counterparts and the public.
“They think that women are too weak to take them on. But I am usually very focused; so, I stay away from negative criticism,” she says.
In addition, getting sponsors is a challenge because Ugandans have not fully embraced the sport, though they have improved with time.
Muwonge adds that getting spare parts for the rally cars is rare and they are expensive.
She cites lack of training grounds as the other bottleneck in rallying.
“There are no grounds to train from. So we have to go through the routes before the day of the event,” she says.
The rally cars are expensive; so, anyone who wants to join the sport should come with a strong muscle.
Muwonge also says the sport is quiet risky because one may crash the vehicle and lose their life.
What keeps her on top
Regardless of the risks and the challenges involved, Muwonge’s love for rallying inspires her to work hard.
Being a teacher did not hinder her from pursuing the rally sport. She had to draw a schedule for school and rally practice and ensures to abide by it.
She says: “The rally sport has got a particular schedule and so does teaching. As such, I had to utilize the hours outside the classroom and practice.”
For the women who would like to venture into rally sport, Muwonge says it takes believing in yourself and courage. Once you are passionate about something, do not wait for anybody to tell you to do it.
“Be self-driven and provided you believe in yourself, you can pull it off,” she says.
Her other side
Muwonge is married to Lawrence Muwonge who is also a sports personality. She is a mother of three boys and two girls.
She is also a teacher by profession and a proprietor of St Francis Junior School Buddo along Masaka road.