FUFA and Lawrence Mulindwa Are Not Thinking About Football

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Task 30 Ugandans to name the entire starting eleven of the Uganda Cranes, chances are 25 will recite it off their finger tips. Go through the “same exact” drill with the Manchester United, Arsenal or Barcelona squads and you will have 29.9 of the 30 getting it right. Don’t be fooled by this ease though, because just 5 of the same 30 will remember only 7 of the 16 teams in the current Uganda super league.

Why? It doesn’t take rocket science to find out. It’s down to the hype and marketing, nothing much to do with quality of the game. I insist it has nothing to do with quality merely because the same Ugandans thronged the stadia in the early 80’s and 90’s. And the same crowd would recite the Express, Villa and KCC squads then. There could have been a change in the quality but certainly not mentionable enough to cause this abandonment and exodus from the domestic game.

The fact that Kenyans, Egyptians, South Africans, Ghanians and Nigerians throng their stadia to catch a glimpse of the “local delight” leaves me wondering why not us, plus also confirms my allegation that quality isn’t the sole reason for deserting the local league.

If you go to Egypt, the Al-Ahly v Zamalek game attracts that much attention that thousands of police officers must be deployed in Cairo to direct traffic, visit our “Brodas” in Ghana and you will see what love-for-the-game is all about when Hearts of Oark is battling Asante Kotoko. While most people in Kampala will not know Sc Villa is Playing Express at Namboole that evening, the entire South Africa is in a “carnival” mood five days to the Orland Pirates vs Kaizer Chiefs showdown.

The passion for the beautiful game within Ugandans has certainly never dwindled but like I alleged before, it’s only normal to prefer products that are well marketed and accessible, whatever the quality. The Cranes are really watched not because Ugandans want to honestly qualify for the Nations cup but because the games are always well advertised and many want to watch the other professionals who have now claimed a brand off the coverage in the dailies.

My point is while we prefer to label it a hobby; other African nations consider football both as a pass time and a money making product. This leaves only the players’ wives, children, close relatives, the idol and disorganized natives in down-town plus of course club officials eager to catch the games.

It’s also crucial to note, however, that marketing the game takes more than just saying or writing it down. It requires money, which we don’t really have. But I will come back to this later.
No Normal human being wants to have lunch in a hotel best known for bouts, just like how you wouldn’t rent a house in a notorious crime-filled suburb of Kampala. Back in the early 90’s, we had many cases where people’s cars were vandalized, violence in the stadia with bottles replacing bullets, corruption, Match-fixing (Yes! match-fixing) and all sorts of issues that darken the game’s image. Luckily for us, all these seem to have calmed down or at least reached the bearable levels. So, again, considering we still have the passion, why aren’t we going to watch the games? It’s back to my original point. Marketing!

When the Uganda Super League Limited (USLL) brought up the idea of having Uganda’s Premier league” live on SuperSport, I thought all Ugandans would finally see the light and fully support the idea. Little did I know that a certain category of officials and unfortunately the most powerful would find this too good for their powers. Unfortunate!

Maybe you don’t get what I am trying to say.
The SuperSport deal means each club gets 50m shillings compared to the 16m under GTV or nothing before, Players and coaches get to be paid more and seen across the continent and of course more employment for local marketers, grounds-men, journalist, referees and eventually another platform for corporate companies to show-case their products. It would also mean the younger generation has another reason to train harder and play football as a profession. And all this aside, Ugandan football’s biggest cancer, marketing, would finally be addressed. SuperSport runs advertisements of the upcoming games across Africa and the domestic League sponsors Bell Lager push it further with the dailies. Ugandan football can not get better. So, for FUFA to come out and suspend the super league, whatever the explanation, is myopic. Very silly!

Yes, I know FUFA had a few valid points for their actions, for example why play a league when a few controversial issues from the Jinja Declaration haven’t been full-filled by the USLL? Why haven’t the clubs full-filled the various requirements like having secure home grounds, professional contracts for their players and staff, submitted full squad lists and more? Why?, however, in management, there is something called “striking a balance” which might sound alien to some FUFA officials. It practically means having to opt for a more profitable and sensible option, first, which might not necessarily be in line with the agenda and secondly, might not be available if not given first priority. All am saying is FUFA is doing the right things rather than doing things right.

At his point, I hope am not being labeled “another FUFA enemy” but does anybody remember when the national federation gave an ultimatum to all super league clubs to either fulfill the much needed requirements or risk expulsion? How is Utoda FC supposed to have a fully fledged academy, Water FC attain two age-group teams and all the others supposed to have contracts for all their staff and secure standards home grounds in just NINE days? This is another example of implementing the right structures, the wrong way.

Therefore, all am saying, in-case you haven’t been following, is that both FUFA and USLL are damn right and wrong. However, even in a group of ugly girls (ugly is opinion), there will always be the ugliest and least ugly, and therefore to this background, Mr. Kavuma Kabenge got one over Mr. Lawrence Mulindwa.

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