Bias in Ugandan football.

In 2009, I worked at a financial institution that went on to post obscene profits in their financial year results.

When management called for a meeting, every employee expected to have a good meeting. To their shock, management was very worried about the performance, they were sure something better needed to be done to improve or else they faced collapsing due to increased competition in that sector.

The research was conducted to objectively analyze that given the human resource at their disposal, they should be doing far much better irrespective of posting very healthy financial year results.

Poor service was identified as the major problem, this led to massive efforts into improving the quality of service.

Over the following ten years, the institution has greatly improved service and survived cut-throat competition to stay in business, unlike many other financial institutions within that same period.

In football psychology, there are two major forms of bias; confirmation bias and outcome bias.

Confirmation bias is where people seek information that supports their opinion, rather than looking for objective information and using flexible thinking to adjust their opinion based on facts and fair analysis.

An example of confirmation bias in Ugandan football is our thinking that a league should have more than 16 teams, it’s an opinion shared by many people involved in Ugandan football.

In our thinking, the more teams in the league, the higher the chances of having teams from more regions hence football development.

However, when you place the facts on the requirements to have a successful 16 team league, there’s glaring evidence that we would struggle with an eight-team league.

Outcome bias is when an incorrect decision ends up with a positive outcome at that moment, so we believe the decision is now correct.

An example of outcome bias in Ugandan football is the different wins or tournament appearances from clubs or national teams.

The majority of these are as a result of things (age cheating, luck in fixtures) that can’t be sustainable in the long run.

From those two explanations, it’s very easy to see how these forms of bias affect the development of football in Uganda because we are a society that only looks at results without a genuine assessment of how we got there.

Look around Ugandan football, it’s littered with very many other examples of confirmation bias and outcome bias.

The challenge with acquiring success through these forms of bias is that when you face a problem, it’s sometimes too late to find a solution.

See how a 16 team UPL in 2019 has struggled with pitches because of heavy rainfall and unplanned tournaments like The Council of East and Central Africa Football Associations (CECAFA)

One of the main factors that affect decision making in Ugandan football has got to be our inability to use effective forecasting which is a societal problem out of our upbringing.

As Ugandans, we generally prefer the short term happiness of how we feel at the moment (instant gratification) compared to how we feel later (delayed gratification).

If you told the Ugandan football community that having an eight-team league would buy time to develop the resources required (quality coaches, quality referees, quality facilities, competent administrators) to run a successful 20 team league, they would have you listed as crazy.

Recently, I was impressed when the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) started the take flight project in Women’s football. In this project, the Women’s Super League (WSL) was formed to be the top league with eight teams.

This came after Women’s football had posted impressive results in the 2018-19 season.

I am very sure that implementing “take flight” had a lot of challenges. Yes, it’s very demanding to work with eight amateur teams trying to become professional but can you imagine how harder it would have been working with 16 teams?

WSL will have its challenges. Poor officiating has already been raised as a concern by sections of the media but whatever challenges they face; it will take a shorter time to solve those problems.

Good to see that an objective decision was made to develop women’s football in Uganda because the people in charge used effective forecasting very well.

Hopefully, men’s football places its ego aside and borrows a leaf from Women’s football.


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