The rondo in Ugandan football.

Rondo is a small sided football game in which players form a circle, square or rectangle then move the ball to keep it away from opponents in the middle.

The most common rondo used in Uganda is 4 players against 2.

The rondo is so popular in Ugandan football to an extent that players use it to warm up, substitutes use it on matchday at half time, football coaches play it and on some training grounds, it has experts that govern how it’s played every evening especially during the offseason.

When you see football players in Uganda playing the rondo, they give you the impression of being very good players until they get on the field to play. Whatever they were doing in the tight space of a rondo disappears on a full-sized pitch. An observant person would wonder, what went wrong?

At the start, players and coaches walk straight on the pitch to play the rondo as a way of warming up.

They’ve seen this with professional football clubs in Europe but in reality, those clubs have gyms at their training grounds where warming up and stretching are usually performed before the players walk out on the pitch. Here in Uganda, it’s rarely the case.

Getting straight into the rondo causes groin related injuries because the body works at a high intensity before being prepared.

Football is a directional sport, has goals or something players have to work hard to achieve.

Scoring goals and preventing your opponent from scoring are the main goals in the game of football. The rondo is a small-sided game so goals become something else.

In the most common version of the rondo in Uganda, the targets used are of the least importance in a football match. Four players keep the ball away from two players that need to gain possession of the ball.

When you read that statement again here’s what you will find as a very common trait in Ugandan football; Possession without a purpose, players get excited after making three consecutive passes, when players gain possession of the ball they struggle to transition (moving from defense to attack and the opposite) and support is misunderstood by running towards the player with the ball.

Football is a team sport where individuals work together to achieve a common goal.

Not in the most common version of the rondo in Uganda, players are expected to work as individuals.

A player loses possession as an individual then wins possession as an individual.

This forces players to avoid the responsibility of correcting a mistake made by a teammate.

Most football coaches in Uganda need to greatly improve their ability to be observant.

This requires watching the actions of players with attention to details. For this to be done very well, coaches need to reduce the amount of time they spend being actively involved in practices organized by themselves especially the rondo.

The majority (99%) of footballers in Uganda don’t know how to apply the principles of play in football.

It’s not their fault but their responsibility to have the application of that knowledge.

A creative football coach would use a rondo to teach principles of play. Other football basics like roles in defense and attack can be coached using a rondo.

Rondos are a great way to teach football players how to understand the game by applying the demands of football. Players in defense can be taught how to position themselves and work together to force attackers into mistakes while attacking players can be taught how to position themselves in order to create space that enables the ball to move forward.

The rondo is viewed as a fun game to help players relax but if football coaches start viewing it differently, it’s the simplest format of teaching players the principles of defending and attacking in football which is the foundation of knowing and understanding the game of football.

Disclaimer: The writer has nothing against the use of rondos.


Football: Roles in attack.

When a team is in possession of the ball, it’s the attacking team. All players involved in the attack have roles to play.

The roles in attack are; Player on the ball (first attacker), supporting player (second attacker) and unbalancing player (third attacker).

Its important for football players to be taught the roles in attack after understanding principles in attack.

The player on the ball (first attacker): this the player in possession of the ball also known as the first attacker.

The role of the first attacker is to maintain possession of the ball then determine if penetration is possible by playing the ball forward.

This might be throwing, passing the ball forward, shooting or traveling with the ball to commit space.

In some cases, its possible for the first attacker to improvise by using creativity to beat a defender if faced with a 1 vs 1 situation.

Supporting player (second attacker): these are the players within one pass from the player on the ball.

They offer support by making sure they create the appropriate distance and angle to receive the ball.

The basic way of offering support to the player on the ball is being positioned forward, sideways and backward depending on the position of the player on the ball.

The more support offered to the player on the ball, the more threatening the attack will be.

Unbalancing player (third attacker): this’ the player that is usually more than one pass away from the player on the ball. The unbalancing player has to keep getting in positions that unsettle the opposition defense by moving off the ball to occupy dangerous space or moving the defenders with you to create space for other attackers.

Roles in attack are performed in relation to the principles of attack.

The player on the ball will use penetration or improvisation, the supporting players offer support while the unbalancing player offers width and mobility.

It’s important for all players to learn football attacking skills like shooting, traveling with the ball, attacking headers, passing and having excellent ball trapping skills because at any point they could be the first attacker, second attacker or third attacker.

“In Ugandan football, we have a challenge of players in the attacking team all getting attracted to the ball, all of them verbally asking for the ball and all of them wanting to be on the ball at the same time.”

Ben Mwesigwa

Its important for coaches to teach players how to understand that during an attack, all players have a role to play either on the ball or off the ball.

The players off the ball greatly help the player on the ball when they make the right actions in relation to the roles in attack.

Example: Belgium Vs Japan at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

Please observe the following; What does the Belgian goalkeeper do when he gains possession of the ball?

How does Kevin De Bruyne react to get the ball?

What does De Bruyne do when he is on the ball?

What did Hazard, Meunier, Chadli and Lukaku do as De Bruyne travels with the ball?

What did Lukaku do for Chadli to score?

Football players that have been coached to understand the roles in attack will construct attacks with efficiency.

They will mostly take advantage of situations in which they you have more attackers against defenders.

Principles of attack in football.

A principle is a known way of behavior.

It should be DELIBERATELY taught so that an individual knows and understands what, when, where, why, and how to behave.

Attacking in football is best understood and efficient when player(s) as an individual or group understand how to apply the principles of attack.

These are; penetration, mobility, width, depth (support), and improvisation.

Penetration is moving the ball forward. The moment a player gets the ball, the first choice should be to determine if penetration can be achieved by passing forward, shooting, dribbling, and running with the ball forward.

Mobility is when players move to create space.

A player on the ball can apply mobility by dribbling or running with the ball to commit available space.

Players off the ball should move to destabilize the opposition’s defense, avoid being marked and create space for themselves or their teammates.

Width is using the whole pitch from left to right.

Players in the attacking team should ensure to spread out to make it hard for opposition players to mark them out of the game.

Width helps the attacking team to stretch the opposition’s defense which creates space for the attacking players to penetrate.

Depth (Support): players in the attacking team need to support the player on the ball.

The most important aspect of supporting a player on the ball is the angle, speed (timing), and distance of support.

Distance has to be appropriate, not too short to be closed down by one player, and not too far to make it easy to intercept.

The correct angle of support is making it easier and possible for the ball to get to you within one pass.

Speed of support is taking up supporting positions for the player on the ball in the shortest time possible.

Depth can also be achieved by offering support using the length of the pitch.

“Supporting is one of the most misunderstood principles as most players think that it’s coming closer to the player on the ball.

Improvisation is where a player on the ball needs to come up with a way to mount a successful attack and get out of trouble.

It includes dribbling in 1v1 situations, and buying a foul (which comes with experience), it’s mainly players being creative and applying ‘tricks’.

It can also be applied by teammates in the attacking team using combinations like 1-2 passing, wall pass, or the third man running off the ball.

Football players that have been taught and understand the principles of attack will find it easy to perform the roles of attack during a football match.

It’s important for all players to be taught the attacking skills in football.

These include; Shooting, passing, receiving the ball in all ways, attacking headers, and traveling with the ball because without learning those skills it is almost impossible to execute the principles of attack.

It’s important for players to be coached on how to understand and be able to interpret when in the game a particular principle of attack can be applied.