The countdown to return.

The January 2020 transfer window had two main stories that captured the attention of Ugandans.

Allan Okello was signed by Algerian club Paradou AC for $200,000 from Kcca FC then Mbwana Samatta joined Aston Villa from Genk to become the first Tanzanian player in the English Premier League (EPL).

98% of Ugandan footballers that join professional football return to Uganda within two years.

I always get asked why our players fail in professional football. I usually answer that our environment doesn’t have what it takes to prepare a player for professional football.

We don’t yet have competed coaches that are capable of preparing players for professional football.

We don’t have many credible competitions that enable players to go through a thorough player development pathway.

Our society is yet to embrace football as a profession, we still treat football as a leisure activity.

Imagine that you want to be a lawyer/engineer/pilot/doctor/architect/teacher, your education pathway will be career-specific midway through secondary school and, become clearer the closer you get to university.

By the time you start practicing your profession, the education pathway has prepared you to have a good foundation.

Let’s imagine again that you want to be a lawyer/engineer/pilot/doctor/architect/teacher, you study anything open then decide to go and work in any of those professions.

You will have skipped the stage of studying the specific subjects for that particular profession.

The lack of basics in that particular field will make you incompetent. If you are being interviewed for the job then you would be exposed.

Does that sound familiar with the majority of Ugandan footballers failing trials?

Footballers in Uganda don’t have a development pathway from 6 to 21 years of age. It’s all about kicking a ball, join a club, play for the national team then an agent convinces a club in North Africa or South Africa to sign the player.

Usually, they start well but with every other match and training session, they get exposed.

Another question that I usually get asked is how a player like Mbwana Samatta managed to make it yet he comes from a country that lacks all the football education that I highlighted earlier.

When you look at Samatta’s pathway, he’s managed to be patient, work hard and prove himself at every level that he’d played from Simba in 2010 through TP Mazembe for five years then Genk for four years.

How many Ugandan footballers have proven themselves at Uganda Premier League (UPL) level?

How many Ugandan footballers exercise patience and hard work when they are transferred?

The agents of most Ugandan footballers want to earn quick money in sign-on fees, they ensure that players move to another club within two years.

How many Ugandan footballers would be key players at a club competing in the quarter-finals of the CAF Confederations cup or CAF Champions’ league?

We need to have players that can prove themselves in Uganda and on the continent before progressing to compete in Europe.

It’s not the only route but it’s the best pathway for a country that lacks football academies.

Denis Onyango, Ibrahim Sekagya and Micheal Azira have managed to make it through hard work, patience and proving themselves at each level.

How many years did it take for each of those three players to make it to the top? How much patience was involved in the process?

Now you know why whenever most Ugandan footballers get transferred to a professional league, the countdown for their return is on tik tok.


The football analyst in Uganda

According to the Oxford learner’s dictionary, analysis means the detailed study or examination of something to understand more about it.

One of the things that make football to be the most popular sport is that despite having clear rules, we interpret them to our preference and have debates about a foul or no foul, a good player or which player is better than the other.

There’s nothing wrong with being a football “analyst” in a WhatsApp group, YouTube channel or fan tv.

Who are the football analysts in Uganda? Journalists.

If you don’t find a problem with journalists being the football analysts in Uganda, here’s a set of scenarios and questions;

Imagine there’s an Ebola outbreak. Would a TV/radio show host a journalist to analyze about Ebola?

Imagine that a newspaper needs to start publishing articles about architectural design for residential houses. Would they use a journalist?

Imagine that you want to learn about the stock exchange. Would you listen/watch a talk show that uses a journalist that has googled information about the stock exchange?

Imagine that your company needs a new marketing strategy, would you pay attention to what a journalist says about demographics and the target group?

Have you watched an automobile show that uses only journalists to make analysis?

Have you paid attention to the analysis of a journalist when you needed knowledge of tax?

Do newspapers use journalists in the education section to help pupils get better at any given subject?

Would you seek legal advice from a journalist?

Would any international broadcaster have two commentators that are both journalists?

If I were blogging about politics. Would you care to read?

Enough with the scenarios and questions. I struggle to see how you would answer yes to any of the above scenarios.

You definitely answered no because of the knowledge that journalists haven’t studied that particular field to be competent analysts.

Journalists in Ugandan haven’t studied about football to analyze it but sound smart because they present to an audience that is naive about football.

You can talk about Ebola with your friends, you can talk about legal stuff with your friends, you can have friends do commentary for a football match, you can talk to your friends about the stock market but, you wouldn’t pay money to have a journalist “analyze” any of those topics.

In Uganda, journalists are football analysts in cases that require decision making.

Journalists analyze and influence who should be selected for the national team.

Journalists analyze who should transfer to play for a given team.

Journalists are football agents.

Journalists are the commentators.

Journalists are the football scouts for clubs.

Journalists select the player of the match in Ugandan football.

Of course, journalists will tell you it’s their opinion.

Media houses are okay with journalists being the football analysts. This being Uganda, we settle for less and don’t want better.

The media houses that value their readers/viewers/listeners will always use someone that has the technical knowledge to give an informed opinion because football is like any other profession.

They will go ahead to show the profile of the analyst so that readers/viewers/listeners know what they are getting.

Some of the most celebrated football commentators have taken up football coaching courses to be able to analyze football with an informed opinion.

Maybe journalists are supposed to work as moderators on talk shows and/or to report about football but I am not qualified to analyze that.

Coordination: A challenge for most Ugandan footballers.

Coordination is the interaction between the brain and the muscles to successfully carry out a movement of two different body parts at the same time.

Most Ugandan footballers lack excellent coordination. 

This is one of the reasons why most of our footballers struggle to play high-level professional football.

Coordination is responsible for three of the four factors that affect football performance. 

This means that coordination affects 75% of football performance.

Coordination is responsible for all the physical attributes of football performance like jumping/leaping, power, physical speed (pure speed acceleration and deceleration), agility, flexibility, and endurance.

Coordination is responsible for the footwork required to execute football skills (passing, shooting, heading, traveling with the ball, throwing the ball, catching the ball, and tackling) with quality.

The five factors of coordination are; 

Orientation: The ability of a player to position themselves correctly in terms of both space and time. 

Changing and readjusting the position of the body on the basis of the perception of a given situation.

An example of orientation in football is heading the ball. 

The player heading the ball has to time the flight of the ball then move the head to make contact with a particular area of the ball. 

Having poor coordination would end up with the ball hitting the player.

Rhythm: The ability that allows the player to execute movement rhythmically. The alternation between speed and slowness.

An example of rhythm in football is dribbling past an opponent. The player on the ball has to slow down as they approach the opponent then accelerate past the opponent as soon as they get favorable conditions. 

Differentiation: An ability that allows the player to deal in different ways with the information that they perceive with their sensory organs.

An example of differentiation in football is knowing how to weigh a pass according to the distance of your teammate and the position of opponents. 

Equilibrium (balance): The ability that allows a player to maintain balance during an action or while executing a technical move.

Being able to regain balance after a duel, a body charge, after feinting and executing the fast footwork required in technical moves.

Almost 90% of football activity happens with one leg off the ground hence football players need to have excellent balance to execute football actions.

An advantage of having excellent balance is that it enables the player to be comfortable using both feet.

Reaction: An ability that allows a player to respond extremely quickly to signals and to match situations, not merely executing the right technical move, but also doing so very quickly.

In football, the stimuli to respond to are; ball, space, teammate, opponent, area of play, and state of play. 

Footballers with better coordination will be stronger, have better endurance capacity be more flexible and have better football speed. 

It’s true that some Ugandan footballers show signs of good coordination but it’s not DELIBERATELY PRACTICED which means they would struggle when competing against opponents that have excellent coordination skills.

It’s also true that Ugandan footballers can execute football skills but the quality of football skills is not at the standard of high-level professional football. 

Coordination is best mastered when taught between 8-13 years of age and can be improved up to 25 years of age then maintained for individuals above 25 years of age. 

Football coaches and players in Uganda need to start deliberate coordination training because of its major influence on football performance.

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.

Futsal should learn from Ugandan football problems.

Futsal is an official form of football, 5 players per team on a small-sized pitch preferably indoors playing for 20 minutes each half.

Being an indoor game, many goals, less contact, fewer injuries, and unlimited rolling substitutions are some of the reasons it’s growing at a very high rate worldwide. Uganda hasn’t been left out of that growth.

The Futsal Super League (FSL) has been going on, with two official seasons under the organization of the Futsal Association of Uganda (FAU), the 2019-20 FSL season kicks off on Monday 28th October 2019 at the Lugogo Indoor Stadium.

During the 2019 Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) Annual Ordinary Assembly, FAU was admitted as a full member of FUFA recognized with the responsibility to manage and organize futsal in Uganda. That kind of authority comes with a lot of responsibilities.

FUFA was formed in 1924, five years away from making 100 years.

In that period, almost all of FUFA’s 34 members don’t have a corporate governance structure in place yet ironically FUFA practices fairly good corporate governance, at least for Ugandan standards.

Almost 100 years later, football in Uganda is not yet professional.

The Uganda Premier League (UPL) and the FUFA Big League (FBL) are supposed to be professional but that is on paper because we are too lenient to enforce the implementation of standards required to be professional.

Almost 100 years later, there’s no football club or FUFA member that is self-sustainable because we have failed to do simple things like understanding football administration and how football business works.

Almost 100 years later, we are going to celebrate a football centenary in which no football club owns a stadium (Kcca FC shouldn’t consider that thing as a stadium).

Almost 100 years later, we still have league matches that rarely kick off on time, still have physical inspections for licensed players, can’t have match attendance records, very weak competition regulations, lack meaningful match statistics for performance analysis, lack a match day countdown and generally lack creativity to solve basic problems.

Anyway, there must be something to celebrate about Ugandan football but not over 100 years. If it were me, that centenary would have a muted celebration then start all over again.

Almost 100 years later, the Futsal Association of Uganda is joining as a full member of FUFA that should learn from all FUFA members to avoid the problems that have been on repeat for the past 95 years.

120 out of 100 Ugandans believe that funding from government or sponsors is the only solution to solve football problems. They also believe that football owes them something and have a sense of entitlement on what FUFA should do for them.

Between August to October 2019, I was very unfortunate (pun intended) to be in charge of FSL’s 2019-20 club licensing.

In that period, I realized that a futsal club owner expects FAU or FUFA to have sponsors but that particular club owner can’t have 12 passport size photos (in soft copy) available in five working days.

In that scenario, it’s evident the majority of football stakeholders lack basic knowledge of how football operates, how they would benefit if the game was professional and how they can be supported to become successful.

The general lack of knowledge on how football would become professional makes them have a very negative attitude towards football leaders or member associations.

Indeed, Political Economic Social and Technology (P.E.S.T) factors have a huge influence on any institution. However, the P in FUFA members’ way too loud, very evident and negative for the development of football in Uganda.

If FUFA members had an AGM and that’s the time they were the most active in a year, that’s a very loud P.


Irrespective of the challenges FAU has at the moment, they should do the simple things that don’t require a lot of resources.

Involve all stakeholders, empower through training, make them understand what it means to be professional, set and enforce standards, have a strategic plan, demand quality, record all incidents to help with information on how to recover from mistakes, keep/manage time, be active throughout the year, be organized, make social media your second home, plan and research.

With all that in place, it will become easier to have genuinely professional football.

FAU’s huge responsibility is to do the simple things well.

Simplicity is genius!