In the line of fire.

During the 2015-16 FUFA Juniors’ League (FJL), I was coaching Maroons Junior Team when we lost 8-0 (in the line of fire) both home and away to KCCA Junior Team.

To make matters worse, the KCCA Junior team was using the Maroons pitch for its home matches but losing those two matches was the least of my concerns.

In both matches, I used separate goalkeepers because I needed both goalkeepers to gain experience, they definitely got more experience than I had hoped for because on top of conceding eight goals, it came with an addition of being ridiculed by their own peers which is part of football learning.

That KCCA Junior team has since gone on to have players join the senior team, Paul Willa, Kizza Mustafa, Allan Okello, Peter Magambo, Herbert Achai, Ronald Kikonyogo e.t.c. As for the two Maroons JT goalkeepers, Solomon Okello and Brian Ozelle are currently (writing of this blog) in Jinja for the 2019 copa coca-cola tournament representing Amus College and Nakaseke International respectively.

Hold on to label them as failures because they are not even close to failing.

Conceding eight goals would be very hard to take especially in Uganda where we want to win junior tournaments at all costs, where we treat losing as the definition of failure but it shouldn’t be the case in underage football which should be used as a development platform for the players.

When I checked the statistics recorded after the match, Solomon Okello had made 21 saves. In the reverse fixture, Brian Ozelle made 17 saves which clearly indicates they were in the line of fire.

The opposition goalkeeper made one save in both matches. For young goalkeepers, having to deal with a ball from the opponent is one of the activities that accelerate their development. The more activities, the higher the chances of developing earlier.

In professional football, it’s very hard for young players to break through to the senior team especially the top teams in Europe.

This comes from top teams being under pressure to perform well instantly, they rely on experienced signings and in most cases, the best players stay longer. Do a quick survey on teams like FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, Man City, Liverpool, Bayern Munich e.t.c.

When was the last time an academy graduate made it as a regular player? How often do academy graduates make it to play in the senior team of top teams?

HOW IS THE DEVELOPMENT OF YOUNG PLAYERS PROGRESSED?
Young players are usually sent out on loan to gain experience by getting first-team football. It usually starts by assessing the level at which the players can compete then send them out on loan however, the process to send them out on loan is not impulse.

Clubs break down how the player will develop. If it’s a defender, they will send them to a club where they expect the player to face the pressure of defending so that they can get involved in a lot of defensive work to gain experience.

The same thing will happen with a goalkeeper and other positions. They will also work out the ambitions of the club.

Do they need the player to gain experience in dealing with relegation?

Do they need a player to gain experience in dealing with promotion?

All this’ done to develop the player to prepare them for the parent club or to increase their value because not all young players will make it to play for senior team but they will bring in revenue for the club.

BACK TO UGANDA
In January 2019, I played in the Futsal Uganda Cup for Thunders FC. We had a 14-year-old Humphrey Oyirwoth as our goalkeeper.

After elimination, I started thinking of a club that could use him in the 2019-20 FJL to gain experience and develop into a better goalkeeper.

I thought of taking him to KCCA FC Junior team but while having a conversation with his older brother something crossed my mind, should Humphrey go to a team that completely dominates opponents?

Does a goalkeeper develop without being worked in a football match?

If he ever makes it past junior age bracket, will KCCA FC have a player development plan for him to go out on loan and acquire experience?

I didn’t think it would develop him.

I decided to look for a club that will be FJL underdogs because Humphrey needs to be placed in the line of fire. I need him playing against KCCA JT, Vipers JT, Onduparaka JT, and the other good teams.

The added advantage is that unlike the 2015-16 FJL season, these days FJL has three rounds which would mean Humphrey playing against KCCA JT three times. Wow!!!

The challenge I have with finding an FJL team for Humphrey is that I don’t know any team or coach in Uganda that would place developing a player ahead of matchday results in underage football.

I would have used him at Maroons JT but I was dismissed as Maroons JT coach after a 10-0 (you read that right ten-zero) loss to Onduparaka JT in February 2018.

I am still not bothered about that result but If you know any coach in Uganda that would place a player’s development ahead of a match day result in FJL, please let me know because I am bothered about Humphrey’s development.

Disclaimer: The writer has nothing against coaches or administrators in Ugandan football that place winning above anything else.

Defending is football too.

In this information age, a football player that wants to improve gets on YouTube and watches clips showing what she/he can practice. It’s usually fancy tricks with the ball.

The podcast about laws of the game: worry for football in Uganda.

Sometimes, the player will capture a video of themselves practicing to show off what they can do with the ball but that’s not competitive football, perhaps freestyle football.

Football has two main principles; defending and attacking.

These principles show that; if a player/team has possession of the ball then they are attacking, if the player/team doesn’t have the ball then they are defending.

That statement shows that if you don’t have the ball then you defend to avoid conceding a goal.

It also shows that if you defend well then you can get the ball and attack.

People will tell you how they played or watched a football match but apparently, the team that had the most possession is the one that played but defending is football too. The team without or less possession is playing too.

The recently concluded 2018-19 English Premier League (EPL) season showed that defenders or defending can be recognized.

A good defending performance can be as good as an attacking performance.

Virgil Van Dijk was named Player’s Player of the season after fellow players voted him.

He’s not the first defender to win that award but it’s good to see a shift in mindset to show that defending is football too.

Manchester City won the league title with a consistently 9/10 performance from Benardo Silva.

The attacking midfielder from Portugal is known for dribbling but had one of the most successful tackles and ball recoveries throughout the season.

He also recorded the longest distance covered, a staggering 13.9 km in a match against Liverpool.

A clear indication that his defensive abilities are very good something that helped him compete for a position ahead of more established players in the Man City squad.

BACK TO UGANDA
It’s good to see that in the recently concluded 2018-19 Uganda Premier League (UPL), goalkeepers and defenders were able to take home the man of the match award even better, Mike Mutebi the head coach of UPL champions KCCA FC says that Timothy Awany was the club’s best player during the 2018-19 season.

Football coaches in Uganda have a habit of separating football. They restrict defensive players to practice only defensive work, attacking players to practice only attacking work. This habit has reached, underage football, players as young as 10 years old have already been classified as either defenders or attackers.

Coaches have made players believe that as a defender you shouldn’t have any business using the ball, attacking players have been made to believe they have no business working to defend.

With this upbringing, Uganda is now filled with the majority of players not having the ability to function on the field when the demand is to defend and attack. Most of the players can only do one football function.

Perhaps it also explains why most goalkeepers are still struggling with being comfortable with the ball at their feet.

Worryingly though it explains why in Ugandan football when a team is defending, the pitch will be usually split into one part of the team defending while the other part of the team waits for the ball (seems like we are stuck in the past).

Players that are very good at attacking the aerial ball with the head will rarely fall back to defend set-pieces.

Defenders that are good at defending aerial balls with the head will rarely be a threat when attacking set-pieces.

MODERN FOOTBALL TRENDS
The current trend in football is that every player on the pitch should be useful when their team is either attacking or defending.

Wide defenders have many assists after arriving in the attacking third of the pitch while many wide attackers will be in the defensive third when out of possession.

Lionel Messi is a wonderful tackler, Christiano Ronaldo has many defensive headed clearances from set-pieces and of course, Vincent Kompany came up with a wonderful goal, shooting from distance to keep Man City in control of the EPL title hunt.

The best two goals at the 2018 FIFA world cup came from two central defenders (Pavard and Nacho) playing as wide defenders.

This ability in those players shows they were taught all football skills at a young age something that needs to be done by football coaches in Uganda or else the margin to professional football will keep getting bigger.

For all young players that intend to impress as footballers, defending is football too.

Learning how to do both defending and attacking is one of the things football scouts observe in a player.

Disclaimer: The writer has nothing against freestyle football.

Bio banding would help Ugandan footballers.

Bio banding is grouping young players of the same maturation and growth attributes rather than grouping them according to chronological age like using U15, U17.

On average, children start puberty aged 12. During puberty, they go through a growth spurt stage but all this happens at different times for each individual depending on factors that range from quality of nutrition, gender, genes, physical activities e.t.c it’s possible to find two 14-year-olds with very contrasting maturation and growth attributes like height.

POPULARISING BIO BANDING IN FOOTBALL
Bio banding is thought to have been popularized by the Southampton FC academy in England.

Oxlade-Chamberlain was part of Southampton’s U14’s and was struggling to keep up with his peers on the field because his slow growth rate made it easy for him to easily get knocked off the ball.

The club thought of releasing him but James Bunce the head of athletic performance decided to keep him at the club.

James Bunce’s observation was that Oxlade-Chamberlain was very good at using the ball but playing with peers that were bigger, stronger and faster became harder for him which resulted in lower confidence and poor performance.

The Ox as he is known was kept in the U-14’s instead of promoting him to the U16’s to continue his football development in an environment that was suitable for him growth-wise.

By the age of 16, he had gone through his own growth spurt and developed into perhaps the best player of his age category in the whole of England.

The Ox made his senior debut for Southampton at the aged 16 and 199 days. Arsenal paid Southampton 15 million pounds for the then 17-year-old Oxlade-Chamberlain in 2011 then later got paid more when he joined Liverpool for 35 million pounds.

Bar injury, he is one of England’s most influential players at the moment.

BACK TO UGANDA

When the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) introduced the FUFA Juniors’ League (FJL) in the 2015-16 season.

It meant that young players were going to get competitive football to help them develop.

In the 2017-18 FJL (U18) season, I was coaching Maroons Junior Team when we decided to register Tony Opio.

He was making 16 years of age in October 2017 but was very small for his age with very good football potential.

During the season, we restricted him to playing 45 minutes per match so that he could enjoy the experience of playing in the league.

I was able to explain to him why I needed to protect him from playing a full match against opponents that were bigger than him because the frustration of not playing well would affect him negatively.

2018-19 FJL season was upgraded to U-19 although I wasn’t his coach anymore I kept following Tony.

He was still the same size and played some matches.

Tony will be making 18 years of age in October 2019 but FJL will return to U-17 for the 2019-20 season which means that Tony will be ineligible to play.

“For a player of his size, FUFA’s competitions committee should consider him playing with the U-17’s because he would fit in. It would help him to have more time on the pitch to develop his talent.”

I know FJL has age cheating challenges but in this case, Tony is already registered and known, Maroons JT also has a very good record of not having age cheats (at least when I coached them).

For a player that was almost considered for selection when the U-17 national team was assembling to start preparations for AFCON U-17 qualifiers, he deserves a bio banding experience to help him develop his talent.

Tony is one in a million of Ugandan players that are struggling with the slow growth rate.

If he’s already been registered in a previous season and there’s a reason to believe he can improve by playing with players of his current physical attributes, then perhaps bio banding would save some of the lost talents in Ugandan football.

Disclaimer: The writer has no disclaimers at the moment.

Solidarity payment contribution: FUFA should use it to develop football in Uganda.

Under FIFA regulations on the status and transfer of players, if a professional footballer transfers to another club during the course of a contract, 5% of any transfer fee, not including training compensation paid to his former club, shall be deducted from the total amount of the transfer fee and distributed by the new club as a solidarity contribution to the club(s) involved in training and education the player over the years.

The Solidarity Payment Contribution podcast.

This solidarity contribution reflects the number of years the player was registered with the relevant club(s) between the seasons of the 12th and 23rd birthdays, as follows:

Season of birthday% of compensation% of total transfer fee
12th5%0.25%
13th5%0.25%
14th5%0.25%
15th5%0.25%
16th10%0.50%
17th10%0.50%
18th10%0.50%
19th10%0.50%
20th10%0.50%
21st10%0.50%
22nd10%0.50%
23rd10%0.50%
Total100%5%
The above table is a breakdown of solidarity payment contribution.

According to my financial expert Andrew Muhimbise, passive income is money earned without the direct involvement of the income earner.

Passive income does not mean earning money by doing nothing.

It means generating revenue without having to exchange time for it (beyond the initial time invested in creating a passive income stream).

For instance, owning real estate or company shares, you actually don’t have to physically be there to earn but, to earn passive income, you need an initial effort.

Paul Pogba’s move from Juventus to Manchester United for £89,300,000 helped Le Havre AC to earn £893,000 as passive income.

He joined the club aged 12 for four years. Since they contributed to his development and education as a football player, they earned passive income for their efforts.

Racqui San Isidro who ply their trade in Spain’s fifth division were saved from running out of football business by the solidarity mechanism payment.

Pedro’s £27,000,000 transfer from Barcelona to Chelsea ensured that they earned a lifesaving £320,000 which not only helped them stay in football but ensured they invested the money to increase income to help run the club.

The same cannot be said of football clubs in Uganda.

FUFA SHOULD IMPLEMENT A DOMESTIC SOLIDARITY MECHANISM PAYMENT SYSTEM THAT DEVELOPS UGANDAN FOOTBALL

The solidarity mechanism payment system only applies to international transfers (involves moving from one federation to another federation), Federation Of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) can implement a domestic version that would STRICTLY apply to DOMESTIC transfers.

In the past years we have seen how Ibrahim Sekagya’s transfer from Arsenal de Serandi to Red Bull Salzburg caused more fist fights than celebrations, with the Austrian club required to pay 5% of the transfer fee, all of Sekagya’s former teams were demanding for payment, reason: they heard that there was payment but, in reality they didn’t know which club qualified for payment.

With a domestic solidarity mechanism payment,

  1. Clubs will be organized and maintain records because they will expect payment from transfers. Handling “small” transfer fees will help prepare clubs for the huge amounts and avoid the issue of Victor Wanyama’s transfer from Celtic to Southampton.
  2. Clubs will work very hard to train and maintain quality players because they will know that it pays to train a “Pogba”. At the moment, we have young players moving every transfer window, the lack of stability denies players a chance to get proper football education and to develop talent.
  3. Clubs will appreciate the value of having full-time standard academies and attaching value to talented footballers. With more transfers and funds being paid to clubs, more money will get to grassroots which helps clubs acquire equipment.
  4. Clubs will work very hard to stay in business by adopting modern business methods. Having the hope that there’s payment because of a good product on the market would keep any club afloat.
  5. The problem of age cheating will be solved because clubs would need to register players from the age of twelve and keep tracking them to avoid missing out on a huge payday.

The most expensive Ugandan footballer has got to be Farouk Miya after Standard Liege paid $400,000 to Vipers.

On applying the solidarity mechanism payment formula, Standard Liege should be paying Friends Of Football (FOF) about $6,000.

Do they have the paperwork to prove he was groomed at their academy?

Do they have the knowledge that they are due $6,000 from Standard Liege?

Why is it that a law that was introduced to develop football at grass root level is not serving its intended purpose?

The biggest move of the 2016-17 Ugandan transfer window was of Musa Esenu joining Vipers SC from Soana FC for a reported 25,000,000 Uganda Shillings.

The 21-year-old striker was groomed by Future Stars in Soroti.

Below is an illustration of how a domestically applied solidarity mechanism payment would benefit Future Stars.

Player Musa Esenu
Registering Club Vipers SC
Former ClubSoanaD.O.B
Instalment25,000,000CurrencyUGX
95% due to Selling Club23,750,000
Solidarity 1,250,000
Season of BirthdayClub% dueAmount
Season of 12th BirthdayFuture Stars 5.00%62,500
Season of 13th BirthdayFuture Stars 5.00%62,500
Season of 14th BirthdayFuture Stars 5.00%62,500
Season of 15th BirthdayFuture Stars 5.00%62,500
Season of 16th BirthdayFuture Stars 10.00%125,000
Season of 17th BirthdayFuture Stars 10.00%125,000
Season of 18th BirthdayFuture Stars 10.00%125,000
Season of 19th BirthdayFuture Stars 10.00%125,000
Season of 20th BirthdaySoana10.00%125,000
Season of 21st BirthdayN/A10.00%125,000
Season of 22nd BirthdayN/A10.00%125,000
Season of 23rd BirthdayN/A10.00%125,000
TOTAL1,250,000

As illustrated above, Future Stars would pocket 750,000 Uganda shillings of passive income from Esenu’s move for their initial effort in grooming him. It sounds like very little money but it’s enough to buy basic football equipment to keep them running.

It would prepare Future Stars to receive bigger amounts should Esenu move from Vipers for a higher transfer fee and most importantly, its better than nothing at all.

The ball is in FUFA’s half to be creative and come up with a domestic solidarity mechanism payment system to help clubs to develop through being able to get funds to the grass root structures that groom football players.

Amending domestic player transfer regulations would do the trick.