UPL is crowded at 16.

At the end of the 2015-16 season, I thought that Uganda Premier League (UPL) needed to be reduced from 16 clubs to 12 clubs.

Six matches into the 2019-20 season, I am certain the number needs to be reduced from 16 clubs to eight clubs. It sounds strange, very strange because I would have expected UPL to have improved and manage to become a 20 club league.

An observation of the majority of the 20 club leagues that have a huge following shows they have QUALITY and QUANTITY personnel in the following areas; coaching, match officials, football administrators, and football support staff that are COMPETENT too.

Besides, they have the availability of quality training grounds and stadiums that can support a 20 team league of 38 match days translating into 380 matches.

All the mentioned factors that make a 20 club league successful, were built over time. They were not given.

WHAT ABOUT UPL?

Uganda doesn’t have anything that would justify having a 16 club league. To make it worse, clubs are entitled to be in UPL. Some clubs expect to be given financial support from the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) to help them operate.

The human resource capacity is extremely low, non-existent facilities mean that four venues are hosting 13 out of 16 clubs in the 2019-20 season.

Wankulukuku has hosted Express FC, Bright Stars FC, Wakiso Giants, and Tooro United.
Lugogo has hosted Kcca FC, Proline FC and soon Police FC.
Luzira pitch has hosted Maroons FC, Onduparaka FC, and Mbarara City FC
Namboole hosts URA FC, Sc Villa, and Kyetume FC

Extremely poor officiating, poor timekeeping, a congested and disorganized fixture, extremely low standards of footballers to an extent that almost every club in the UPL has an average of three players with pot bellies, poor quality coaching standards, absence of specialist football coaches, very weak club brands that causes low match attendance levels, non-existent performance analysis, poor standards of facilities and unethical football administrators have been some of the 2019-20 UPL highlights.

The 2019-20 UPL season has a close resemblance to an amateur corporate league. Most times, it didn’t feel like 2019 but a stone-age version of football.

Ugandan society tolerates mediocrity to an extent that, we celebrate low standards. With all that incompetence in UPL, we are either proud of the work done or go silent about poor quality because we are afraid of inconveniencing the people in charge.

UPL secretariat operates in a very harsh football environment but they can do something about it. It’s very disappointing that UPL seems to be resigned to, “we can’t do anything about it” attitude.

WHAT DOES UPL NEED?

UPL needs to be reduced from 16 to eight clubs so that quality and competent human resource can be built over time to sustain a 16 club league and probably 20 clubs in the future.

FUFA is currently doing a very good job in terms of developing human capacity with very many football courses but the numbers are not yet at a level that can sustain a 16 club league.

FUFA needs to have realized this by now then change the football pyramid structure to have clearly defined number of clubs that should be in UPL and lower leagues.

UPL needs to be in charge of its own club licensing program that would be supervised by FUFA. The current club licensing is a stale joke that lacks professionalism because its not full time.

UPL needs to have a five-year strategic plan shared with all football stakeholders. Perhaps, that will be the start of getting football administration basics right.

Be in charge of issues in their control like proper time keeping, have in place a match day countdown, a proper player and club officials licensing system and proper regulations that govern the league. Take care of simple things, the bigger things will fall in place.

If it were my decision to make, it would be eight clubs in UPL because I’d rather have UPL with 8 professional clubs than have 16 amateur clubs.

Don’t bother wondering about the number of matches, an 8 club league can still have the same number of matches as a 16 club league. All you need is CREATIVITY.

3 thoughts on “UPL is crowded at 16.

  1. Pingback: The countdown to return. | Ben Mwesigwa

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