Amateur football is the act of engaging in football to pass time usually without the expectation of remuneration.
Professional football is a full-time activity in football, working towards remuneration being more than what has been invested.
Football in Uganda was introduced by the British colonialists as a hobby.
It was viewed as a leisure activity that players, coaches, referees, administrators, and other football stakeholders could get involved in at the end of the day when they had finished up with work.
The year is 2020, football is still generally amateur in Uganda.
There are steps that are being taken by the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) to develop football into a profession but we still have decisions and actions that keep Ugandan football amateur.
In March 2020, Uganda’s domestic national team camped for training in the same period that coincided with the Uganda Premier League (UPL) matchday 25.
Some clubs had players reporting on match day to represent their clubs.
That incident on its own raises questions that prove our level of amateurism.
How did club coaches prepare their teams for matchday 25?
Did the national team coach share the players’ training workload with affected club coaches?
Could the national team training be delayed by a week or have UPL matchday 25 postponed?
We also have many incidents of coaches handling more than one team at the same time.
These include the national team coaches handling the domestic team and the majorly based foreign team considering that in March 2020 they were going to be in camp at the same time.
From May 2015 to February 2020, I worked as a full-time football coach but failed to see how it’s possible to coach more than one team at the same time.
The amount of work required to plan and prepare a training session, conduct and supervise a training session, to evaluate, and give feedback after the session is very demanding.
Professional football coaches work with bigger teams of support coaches but still require breaks (now known as sabbaticals) in between moving from one job to another because they need to recharge from the exhaustive task.
If any coach is handling more than one team at the same time, then it’s clear that they aren’t doing 30% of the work that should be done.
In the example of UPL and our national team coaches, these are the known professional football entities in Uganda but professionalism is on paper and not yet practiced at 100%.
If football in Uganda is to develop into professional then we need to accept that we are still amateur.
Arriving at the acceptance stage is what will enable us to start planning on how to become professional.
Unfortunately, 99% of the internal football stakeholders in Uganda either haven’t arrived at the acceptance stage and/or deny that football is still amateur.
We seem to be comfortable with football staying in its current stage.
Professional football would transform Uganda’s economy by reducing the rate of unemployment, greatly increase on the amount of taxes collected from football, football is a huge factor in increasing the number of tourists, and professional football requires knowledge that would improve the education capacity of the Ugandans involved in football.
For that to happen, we need to document the decisions and actions that are still keeping us amateur then plan on how to become professional.