Rondo is a small sided football game in which players form a circle, square or rectangle then move the ball to keep it away from opponents in the middle.
The most common rondo used in Uganda is 4 players against 2.
The rondo is so popular in Ugandan football to an extent that players use it to warm up, substitutes use it on matchday at half time, football coaches play it and on some training grounds, it has experts that govern how it’s played every evening especially during the offseason.
When you see football players in Uganda playing the rondo, they give you the impression of being very good players until they get on the field to play. Whatever they were doing in the tight space of a rondo disappears on a full-sized pitch. An observant person would wonder, what went wrong?
HOW IS THE RONDO ABUSED IN UGANDAN FOOTBALL?
At the start, players and coaches walk straight on the pitch to play the rondo as a way of warming up.
They’ve seen this with professional football clubs in Europe but in reality, those clubs have gyms at their training grounds where warming up and stretching are usually performed before the players walk out on the pitch. Here in Uganda, it’s rarely the case.
Getting straight into the rondo causes groin related injuries because the body works at a high intensity before being prepared.
Football is a directional sport, has goals or something players have to work hard to achieve.
Scoring goals and preventing your opponent from scoring are the main goals in the game of football. The rondo is a small-sided game so goals become something else.
In the most common version of the rondo in Uganda, the targets used are of the least importance in a football match. Four players keep the ball away from two players that need to gain possession of the ball.
When you read that statement again here’s what you will find as a very common trait in Ugandan football; Possession without a purpose, players get excited after making three consecutive passes, when players gain possession of the ball they struggle to transition (moving from defense to attack and the opposite) and support is misunderstood by running towards the player with the ball.
Football is a team sport where individuals work together to achieve a common goal.
Not in the most common version of the rondo in Uganda, players are expected to work as individuals.
A player loses possession as an individual then wins possession as an individual.
This forces players to avoid the responsibility of correcting a mistake made by a teammate.
HOW CAN THE RONDO BE USED EFFECTIVELY?
Most football coaches in Uganda need to greatly improve their ability to be observant.
This requires watching the actions of players with attention to details. For this to be done very well, coaches need to reduce the amount of time they spend being actively involved in practices organized by themselves especially the rondo.
The majority (99%) of footballers in Uganda don’t know how to apply the principles of play in football.
It’s not their fault but their responsibility to have the application of that knowledge.
Rondos are a great way to teach football players how to understand the game by applying the demands of football. Players in defense can be taught how to position themselves and work together to force attackers into mistakes while attacking players can be taught how to position themselves in order to create space that enables the ball to move forward.
The rondo is viewed as a fun game to help players relax but if football coaches start viewing it differently, it’s the simplest format of teaching players the principles of defending and attacking in football which is the foundation of knowing and understanding the game of football.
Disclaimer: The writer has nothing against the use of rondos.