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Why Uganda’s soccer will take ages to develop


By ABUBAKAR SEMATIMBA

The state of our soccer leaves a lot to be desired. The recent clash between the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) and Uganda Soccer League (USL) that involved some officials referring to others as ‘pigs’ could result into a precedent which will affect not only soccer, but also other forms of sport.

When I met one of the great goal keepers Uganda has ever produced, Paul Ssali, and radio presenter Stewart Mutebi in 2006 at Super F.M radio station, they maintained that soccer in Uganda died in the seventies after the Nations Cup finals between the Cranes and Black Stars of Ghana, and what we observed in the 80s and 90s was the last breath of a dying horse.

It should be noted that in the late eighties and nineties Uganda had some few players with great talent; Philip Omondi, Godfry Kateregga, Paul Hasule Tom Lwanga, and others whose leagues were well organized and whose salaries were encouraging.

Today, sadly, with all the developments the game of soccer has registered worldwide, Uganda seems to be lagging behind and from the look of the things the country has a long way to go.

Corruption has become part and parcel of Uganda’s society, and soccer has not survived this predicament. Soccer administrators have been involved in scandals and some have lost their lives – FUFA lost two Secretary Generals in the names of Abolt Sebuliba and Mosses Nsereko. The duo was murdered in cold blood and police has never bothered to investigate what went wrong. It is believed that their murder was related to soccer.

Our referees have not participated in international tournaments and no Ugandan referee participated in the recently concluded Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon a part from Charles Masembe, the former CEO of FUFA who was fired from his position for forging the Federation’s documents a few years back to secure a U.K Visa for someone.

After the demise of Sebuliba and Nsereko, a lot happened in the years that followed: Denis Obua (RIP) and his administration embezzled millions of shillings intended and he was relieved of his duties. He was replaced by Lawrence Mulindwa.

With the coming of Mulindwa little impact was felt on the state of the most loved game in the country. The Cranes continued with what some called the jinx of 1978 – the team failed on several occasion to qualify to both continental and world events. It has only performed well in friendly games and regional tournaments like CECAFA.

Poor administration

Poor administration has contributed a lot to the state that Uganda’s soccer lags in. It should be recalled that the Federation allowed the then National Coach Laszlo Csaba to vacate his position when Uganda wanted him most. No effort was made to retain the Hungarian to help the Cranes qualify for the World Cup and Nations Cup.

It is rumored that some officials within the Federation connived and gave a green light to the coach to look for greener pastures in Europe, leaving Uganda to expand her history of not engaging in global competitions.

The new coach Bob Williamson from Scotland, though tried his skills, added little to the team as the players struggled to adjust to his coaching style and formation and at the end Uganda did not qualify.

Government policy

Though governments the world over are not supposed to interfere in football, it is crystal clear that the government has the mandate to support sports and soccer in particular. Our government, unfortunately, spends little on soccer and spends hugely on other departments like Defense.

When President Museveni visited the national team at Nambole prior to the match against Nations Cup qualifiers match between Uganda and Kenya last year, he said he was not aware that the football federation was struggling to pay the national coach and promised to give a hand. If indeed he wasn’t aware, blame goes to those who are responsible for the poor.

The government of Uganda through the ministry of sports and education is not doing enough to save the game. On the contrary, sports minister Charles Bakkabulindi is said to take sides hence creating divisions into football. The minister is either pro-FUFA or pro-USL, I don’t know if that can do any good to our game beyond chairing meetings to solve wrangles between worrying sports bodies.

Fighting between FUFA, USL and Referee Council
It is known the world over that the governing body of the football game in the country is supposed to be one. But today we have FUFA giving directives and Uganda Soccer League (USL), which is supposed to be under FUFA, has become a state within a state. FUFA has fired 10 pro-USL referees for going against for officiating in games organized by USL. FUFA has also banned USL’s Kabenge Kavuma from all soccer activities.

Coaching institutions

With all the universities and colleges that Uganda has, coaching soccer as a course should be introduced and this will be possible with the help of the government. In the long run the country will be saved from paying exorbitant fees to train its people outside the country.

 

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