Actions that keep Ugandan football amateur.

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.

FUFA can’t solve Uganda’s football problems on its own.

Whenever there’s a football problem in Uganda, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) is expected to solve it.

Poor officiation, clubs not paying salaries, poor football facilities, players failing trials, unprofessional coaches, women’s football issues, unregulated agents, chaotic schools’ football, unethical administrators, football not being able to make front-page headlines, clubs not performing at the continental level, etc.

Think of any problem within Ugandan football, and FUFA will be the first culprit.

Some problems are comical like; clubs not having sponsors, age cheating in underage football, and transporting clubs.

As the body that’s in charge of football in Uganda, FUFA should take responsibility for the blame but they can’t solve all problems.

Using an example of corruption, the Ugandan government is responsible and should take the blame but can’t solve that problem on its own.

It requires sensitizing the public that acts like bribing police, bribing your way to getting a job, cheating in exams, expecting to be paid extra for performing a service for which you are already paid, falsifying receipts, etc. are all acts of corruption.

That way, the public will know that corruption starts with me.

It’s a problem that can go away if we change behaviour from our homes and the quality of upbringing.  

FUFA is a group of football associations. They are the members that makeup FUFA.

Uganda Football Referees’ Association, Uganda Football Coaches’ Association, Uganda Women’s Football Association, Uganda Football Players’ Association, etc. are some of the FUFA member associations.

An image showing some of FUFA’s member associations

FUFA needs to come up with a syllabus for developing the capacity of administrators to improve governance with FUFA member associations.

Come up with guidelines on who qualifies to be eligible for football administration courses.

Formulate a thorough member association licensing guide, delegate tasks that directly affect member associations, a balance scorecard, and an appraisal system for member associations.

From that process, it’s possible to ask questions like; What does each FUFA member association do to solve problems that are linked to them?

On 12th February 2020, the FUFA Competitions Disciplinary Panel (CPD) ruled that KCCA FC fans committed acts of hooliganism in a UPL match against URA FC after the Sam Ssimbwa (URA FC head coach) celebrated in front of them.

Interestingly, Sam Ssimbwa didn’t get any punishment, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is among the majority blaming FUFA for any problem.

Unknown to CPD, three football problems were “swept under the carpet” yet these will haunt FUFA in the long run.

The URA FC vs KCCA FC fans violence can be solved by making the Uganda Football Coaches’ Association answerable as to why they have licensed a coach that behaves that way, make the Uganda Football Referees’ Association answerable as to why the referee did not book the coach, make UPL, URA FC and KCCA FC answerable for the way fans behaved in that match.

There should be repercussions for each football problem, ensure that it’s documented and make sure the responsible member association is doing something about the found problems.

The repercussions should always trickle down to the coach, fan, referee, administrator, and player to always be answerable and start taking responsibility for any football problem.

How long will it take for FUFA member associations to solve problems and to ensure they don’t happen again?

How long would it take to solve the majority of Uganda’s football problems?

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.

Forced Membership!

Uganda Football Coaches Association (UFCA) is a member of the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA).

UFCA struggled to attract coaches as members so they decided to find a way of having competition regulations amended in their favor to ensure that football coaches involved in FUFA organized tournaments pay membership fees to be granted a practicing license.

Like all decisions that aren’t well thought out, it wasn’t sustainable because the number of coaches licensed to work is far less than the actual number of coaches.

UFCA came up with another idea. They are proposing to ensure that every time a coach has to go for an advanced coaching course, fully paid membership with UFCA will be one of the criteria used to be admitted into the course.

Again another decision that isn’t well thought out. It won’t be sustainable because there’s usually a two-year gap between coaching courses and the majority of coaches drop out of courses.

UFCA has failed to invest time into finding out why they struggle to attract members, they resort to hijacking them into forced membership.

UFCA has failed to take responsibility for low membership numbers, they resort to blaming coaches for lacking solidarity.

WHY IS UFCA STRUGGLING TO ATTRACT MEMBERS?

For any person to be a paid member of any association, they need value in return for what is being paid. It’s that simple.

UFCA offers no value or struggles to offer any meaningful value to its members. If they did that, current members would have a lot of positives to share.

There’s a time I wanted to join UFCA, I was invited for a meeting that started with a debate about drinks, after 45 minutes of the debate, I’d had enough and left football coaches debating about drinks.

It’s almost 10 years since that incident, basing on observations from current UFCA members. I highly doubt I’ve missed anything from UFCA that adds value to me as a football coach.

WHAT SHOULD UFCA DO BETTER?

Corporate governance is the solution for UFCA. UFCA can adopt a system of governance that members use to vote a board of directors that appoints an executive to run the day to day business of the association.

In modern football business, if any football institution is interested in being self-sustainable then it’s imperative to have employees that work full time to think of ways to make the institution better.

Good governance is essential for a football institution to be managed effectively and to demonstrate accountability and transparency.

Values are at the core of good governance, but it is brought to life by leadership, direction, and supervision, by the people who have the right skills and experience for their role.

By adopting principles of good governance, it will benefit UFCA in terms of engaging the trust of all stakeholders.

Good governance will not in itself ensure success, but it should improve UFCA’s management, support its reputation, and most importantly, help secure UFCA’s future and its sustainability.

Example: In Uganda, most coaches aged 30 and above struggle with computer literacy and a low command of the English language that causes language barrier and interpretation issues but those coaches are more than capable of coaching very well.

With a well thought out structure, UFCA would have a technical director that understands the needs of those coaches.

The technical director can draft a syllabus that enables coaches to be trained on how to be computer literate then organize internal coaching courses in a language they understand so that by the time they attend the mandatory English version of the course, it’s a matter of understanding the interpretations.

That’s one of the many problems faced by coaches in Ugandan football, finding solutions to solving problems by coaches would be the kind of value addition any coach needs hence enabling UFCA to attract members.

Over to you at UFCA.

Disclaimer: The writer has nothing against being a UFCA member.

Sacrifice football players.

There’s a saying in football that all decisions made have to be central to the players. Football players are very important stakeholders in football.

Before I get misunderstood, that doesn’t mean other stakeholders like; referees, administrators, media, fans, and coaches don’t have an important role to play in football. They are very important, without them, the game can’t go on.

For any football decision to be made, the priority should be footballers then other football stakeholders will benefit from that decision.

Example; When FIFA introduces a water break during matches, players are the priority in that decision but other stakeholders benefit.

Match officials will get an opportunity to cool off, take water and perhaps have a simple chat about the progress of the game.

Football players being key and central in all decisions seems to be the way things should be done but not in Uganda.

HOW ARE FOOTBALL PLAYERS SACRIFICED IN UGANDAN FOOTBALL?

The majority of footballers in Ugandan football have their health sacrificed due to limited resting arising from the number of matches they get involved in.

Uganda Premier League (UPL), Uganda Cup, Super 8, ODILO and The Drum football tournament are some of the tournaments.

At the end of the 2018-19 season, there was a high number of players that were involved in league/cup matches on a Friday then played in The Drum football tournament matches on a Sunday.

That means a player was involved in two matches in a space of three days but when you work out the number of hours, playing at 4 pm on Friday then 4 pm on Sunday means they played two matches in a space of 48 hours.

When other factors like weather conditions, poor playing facilities, poor nutrition, the distance between match venues, the poor physical condition of players, etc. all come in then it’s a recipe for player burn out or poor health conditions after retirement.

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse. ODILO national championships, a U-14 football tournament organized by FUFA will have teams playing three matches in a space of 4 days.

How many Ugandan footballers have rested since the 2018-19 season ended? Many players were involved in The Drum football tournament, COSAFA, CECAFA, CHAN qualifiers and then Super 8 in the offseason.

With CAF Champions’ league and UPL all coming up, fingers crossed they won’t be limping by January 2020 if Uganda Cranes qualifies for CHAN 2020.

Football players indeed need to get involved in many tournaments and matches to gain experience but for that to happen, other conditions like the quality of playing infrastructure, quality nutrition, quality of travel between matches, good fitness levels, etc. have to be met.

This being Uganda we went for the copy and paste version of exposing footballers to many matches in a short time without considering other factors.

Does that explain why 95% of footballers that play within Uganda lack consistency?

The majority of footballers in Ugandan football have their income sacrificed because clubs don’t honor contracts.

Most players go unpaid for an entire second round of the league then end up being released at the end of the season.

This’ usually done by clubs that are struggling to perform on the pitch because they know players will leave after not being paid then save money to contract new players.

WHAT CAN BE DONE TO IMPROVE?

Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) and UPL as the organizers of major tournaments in Uganda football need to identify individuals with technical knowledge of football then have them trained on how to handle fixtures and start involving them in decisions to do with fixtures.

It’s true that other factors like pitch availability affect fixtures but having an input of someone with technical knowledge of football would greatly help to avoid unhealthy fixture congestion and overlapping football seasons.

Uganda Football Players’ Association needs to adopt a corporate governance module to enable it to attract and have all football players as members.

This will help them achieve self-sustainability to open up funding for educating players. All footballers in Uganda may be ignorant about the dangers of playing many matches in unfavorable recovery conditions.

Ironically, FUFA preaches and practices corporate governance but the majority of its members are struggling to implement it. FUFA should empower members by conducting training sessions to improve governance.

FUFA’s club licensing regulations should be enforced. Under financial criteria, clubs are supposed to have cleared all debts to zero balance.

With better supervision, it’s possible to identify clubs that haven’t paid players and other service providers.

FUFA can amend competition regulations to include that clubs defaulting on payments be deducted points and it extreme cases they can be relegated or denied a license to compete in some tournaments.

Football organizers in Uganda need to start considering players as key stakeholders in decisions. For that to happen, players will need to be educated. With knowledge comes power.

Disclaimers: The writer has nothing against any football tournament in Uganda.

Wasted time!

Next is a 2007 movie, Nicholas Cage acts as a magician that can see in the future. That ability greatly helps him to change things in the present however, at the end of the movie, he seems to have been killed in a nuclear bomb explosion only for him to wake up.

The explosion scene was him seeing in the future. I guess waking up meant that he was going to change the present to avoid the nuclear blast.

In July 2018, Uganda Premier League (UPL) signed a 10-year broadcasting contract worth 27 billion Uganda shillings with Star times TV.

The contract seemed to be of very little value but UPL couldn’t negotiate for more because they didn’t have a lot to offer in terms of value.

Its 1st July 2028, UPL needs to search for a new sponsor because Star times has decided not to renew their broadcasting and league naming rights contract after 10 years of slow growth.

In 2028, Football globally has made huge strides. Back in 2019, the competition for Ugandan football was foreign football on TV.

Now the competition is that English Premier League (EPL) matches can be hosted in African countries with better infrastructure like South Africa.

With advancements in technology, the world uses 5G technology, a fan can watch a match using a Virtual Reality (VR) headset and seem like they are in the stadium with access to every stadium camera angle.

There’s a world football league going on, who needs to watch UPL matches?

WHY IS UPL STUNTED?
A league can only be as good as the clubs in it.

UPL has so far failed to set high standards that can push clubs to become professional.

Football clubs are run in an amateur football set up, actually worse than amateur because some corporate league teams are administered way better than most clubs in UPL.

UPL can’t have the league kicking off in August because clubs aren’t ready for an August kick-off, some clubs have to make up their minds on where they will host league matches.

UPL fixtures can’t be released early because clubs can’t honor the deadlines set for supervision to be granted a license to play in the league.

UPL clubs don’t have an active website and social media handles to keep fans engaged during the season and off-season, less fan engagement means fewer numbers which doesn’t sound good for the broadcasting and naming rights sponsor.

The majority of UPL clubs don’t honor contracts but go unpunished by UPL and the federation.

Not honoring contracts reduces the number of quality human resource working with clubs.

Without a quality human resource, it’s impossible to improve any institution.

Almost all UPL clubs don’t have a strategic plan to cater to what has to be achieved in the future.

If any strategic plan exists, then it’s on paper without any action because the supervision is extremely weak.

UPL Clubs haven’t been creative enough to get match day venues that offer comfort to fans, the majority of fans decide to stay away because they’d rather sit at home to watch foreign football.

IF any UPL matches are on TV then quality is extremely poor because the venues used for matches can’t enable good broadcasting angles.

The other reason for poor quality matches is because the product is of very low standards.

UPL has Star times and Pilsner lager as sponsors/partners but struggles to show value for sponsorship because in Uganda we still treat sponsorship as donations.

Time is the greatest currency, with nine years left on the current broadcasting contract. The work done in that period will determine how valuable UPL’s broadcasting rights will be in 2028.

After 10 years of wasted time, I hope we wake up because it’s actually July 2019.

Foreign coaches in Ugandan football.

When the Uganda Cubs (U-17 men’s national team) qualified to play at the 2019 U17 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) by lifting the CECAFA U17 trophy in 2018, the team was coached by Peter Onen (a Ugandan).

Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) decided to hunt for a coach and settled for Fabian Kwesi from Ghana.

Fabian Kwesi’s appointment was welcomed by ‘senior’ Ugandan coaches going on social media to complain about his appointment, apparently, they deserved a chance to coach the national team.

FUFA in their defense said they headhunted for a coach with experience of qualifying a team to the FUFA U17 World cup. With the 2019 AFCON U17 tournament being used as the event for world cup qualifiers.

The task ahead was qualifying for semifinals then a slot would be guaranteed to play in Brazil. Story short, Uganda Cubs didn’t qualify under the guidance of Fabian Kwesi who also hired a fellow Ghanaian to be the fitness coach for the Cubs.

WHERE DO COACHES IN UGANDA GET IT WRONG?

Asking for a chance to coach the national team without showcasing what you can do is more like entitlement, I am Ugandan, I deserve the job doesn’t work in football.

The coaches complaining about deserving the job ahead of a foreigner have never had experience handling U17 players. There’s a huge difference between coaching young players in the top flight league and coaching U17 players but don’t tell that to a coach in Uganda, to them football coaching is general.

Ahead of the 2017-18 football season, which includes FUFA Juniors’ League (FJL) FIFA sent a youth football instructor to Uganda.

He conducted a Youth Member Associations coaching course to teach coaches how to handle young players. FUFA requested each UPL club to send two coaches for training, some clubs sent only one coach while others didn’t show up.

I would expect any coach interested in coaching youth players to show up but that’s the mentality of coaches in Uganda. Gaining knowledge or going through the process of unlearning to relearn new trends in football coaching is a problem for coaches in Uganda.

Ignoring that course had a lot to do with that but they expect to coach a U17 National team in 2019.

When Tanzania hosted the 2018 CECAFA U17 tournament, an interested coach should have been in Tanzania to observe what the Uganda cubs went through, they should have acquired footage (should be very easy these days) of all regional qualifiers then present to FUFA how they would pull off world cup qualification.

A busy coach would have hired an analyst to help them do opposition analysis but a coach in Uganda finds investing (paying for knowledge acquisition) in themselves as offensive.

The majority of football coaches in Uganda will walk into a training session without planning ahead.

They plan a training session as it goes on so they expect to plan U17 world cup qualification during qualifiers. Hint: U17 World cup qualification starts at working with U15 players two years prior to the qualification. Good luck expecting someone that can’t plan a day’s training session planning for two years.

Youth football has U-17, U-20 and in some rare cases U-23. It’s a specialized area of coaching in football.

A coach has to earn badges in normal football coaching then get specialized education in youth football to practice as a youth coach.

It’s only in Uganda where we think that being a senior coach automatically guarantees you the ability to coach youth players. Sorry!!!!!!

YOUTH FOOTBALL VS SENIOR FOOTBALL.

Youth football requires working and following a set syllabus for coaching the players to learn while senior football has a lot to do with solving problems in a previous match.

Example: If a U17 team is being coached how to break down a compact defense by effective use of wing play, this lesson might last three months. All matches that happen during that period will have the coach place emphasis on whether players are able to transfer what is being taught into the matches played.

Success will be rated in that particular area. Should the team play a match and have problems with attacking and defending set-pieces then no need to panic because the time for that will show up. In Senior football, every problem is documented and broken down as team problems, group/unit/line problems, and individual problems.

Corrections are usually done in the days after the match. In most cases, clubs will need to sign players because they need to succeed instantly (the pressure too)

Youth football requires using all players by giving all players an equal amount of playing time because it’s the only way they can all be assessed fairly because playing a match is best and perhaps the only way to gain experience.

During the league (FJL) if a club has registered three goalkeepers then a schedule has to be drawn on how all the three goalkeepers will be used during the season.

Senior football requires having the best players on the pitch as much as possible although in the modern era, teams using fringe players for cup matches to keep them active throughout the season.

If coaches in Uganda want to coach the national team(s) they need to invest in acquiring knowledge then build competent coaching teams to work better. For now, Fabian Kwesi is more than welcome.

Disclaimer: The writer is a football coach in Uganda and doesn’t have anything against ‘senior’ coaches.

Institutional football clubs need sight of professional football

In February 2019, an image of the 1995 Uganda league table was shared on social media. In this image, the league had 15 teams, 11 of the 15 clubs were institutional teams.

The Podcast

Back then, institutions injected funds into football because they had the capacity to pay salaries and handle other costs that come with playing the league.

These institutions must have relied on tax payer’s money, something you can’t rely on upon forever to fund football.

Fast forward to 2019, only KCCA FC among the 11 institutional clubs that played in the 1995 league is still active.

Considering that Uganda’s budget was generally funded by donors and some taxes (I stand to be corrected) they were sane enough to ensure that money allocated from the budget doesn’t end up as recurring expenses in football.

The other 10 clubs have since closed shop because they didn’t have funds to operate a football club in the league.

The 2018-19 UPL season had seven institutional clubs. Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), Police, Maroons, Ndejje University, Kirinya Jinja SS, Bidco (BUL) and Kampala City Council Authority (KCCA) in addition to those clubs in the top flight, Plascon, Army (UPDF) and Water FC are other institution teams in the second-tier league.

It’s shocking that 10 institutions exited football years ago but a separate group of institutional clubs are still active in football. Have they researched why the other institutions exited?

Institutions had the funds to operate football clubs because government expenditure wasn’t monitored and football was amateur. Let me stick to the amateur football explanation for the rest of the article.

Amateur football doesn’t care how much revenue you make, all you need is to show up and play. The organization is basic too, all you need is a committee of volunteers earning allowances to do whatever has to be done.

WHAT HAS CHANGED?

Football is now professional, not fully in Uganda but at least it’s starting to paint the picture of being professional.

Professionalism comes with its demands. You have to EMPLOY the RIGHT people; you need a corporate governance module to ensure self-sustainability and the other basics that come with being professional.

In football, the challenges of being professional are much more demanding because a club is expected to spend according to how much money it makes from football-related activities.

KCCA FC has done very well to start its journey to self-sustainability, they have employed the right people and managed to attract sponsorship that funds almost 60% of the club’s budget.

WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER INSTITUTIONAL CLUBS?

As football in Uganda continues on the journey to professionalism, the other institutional clubs will drop out of football because they have struggled to do the basics of football management.

Starting with employing the right people that work full time to make the club professional.

On matchday 30 of the 2018-19 Uganda Premier League (UPL) season, KCCA FC hosted Maroons FC on coronation day (trophy ceremony), KCCA FC had to give Maroons FC playing shorts to use (let that sink in).

Maroons will give you reasons for borrowing a playing kit from KCCA FC but no sane mind would entertain that excuse.

There are plenty of examples in which institution clubs have struggled to show the kind of organization expected out of them. When Police FC hosted Paidha Black Angels (PBA) at Lugogo, the match was stopped at a certain point after a PBA fan threw objects at the assistant referee, officially the stop was recorded as a water break while the offender was dealt with swiftly. Is that security lacking at a Police match or a case of the offender being daring?

URA FC is working on employees wearing jerseys as a sign to support the club but by the time a person joins URA as an employee at an average age of 25, good luck turning them into supporters.

Police FC had merchandise to sell for the 2018-19 UPL season, on inquiry, a customer needed to move to Naguru to buy a Police FC branded cup/flask.

Was it possible to have those cups available in every police post to make it easier for buyers? I am not a marketing expert but neither am I moving to Naguru for a flask I can easily get next door.

In the 2017-18 UPL season, Stanbic Bank donated (lack of a better word) money to support Maroons then for the 2018-19 season, Centenary bank donated money to support Police FC.

Those two banks don’t appear on playing kits. Have those two clubs attempted to find out why a corporate company is willing to give them money but not appear on their jerseys?

SOLUTIONS FOR INSTITUTIONAL CLUBS

KCCA FC is able to attract sponsorship revenue because they have a combination of pedigree, fan base and organized at the moment. Apart from the name, they have tried to be independent of their mother body.

URA, Police, Ndejje University, Kirinya Jinja SS and the rest can attract sponsorship revenue by changing football team names.

Let’s use an example of URA FC since they already have land in Naggalama (I had better be right on that).

If URA FC renamed to Mapenzi FC, URA would be the owners of Mapenzi FC operating as an independent company, the club would initially benefit from being funded by owners to set up a stadium in Naggalama.

The residents would identify with the club and start supporting it, more supporters would increase revenue from matchday, commercial activities like selling club merchandise and TV rights which would attract sponsors.

How long would it take for Mapenzi FC to break even?

Why shouldn’t URA FC use Naggalama FC as a name? Using Naggalama FC would have restricted URA to one area yet URA has a nationwide presence.

When URA stops funding Mapenzi FC, the funds can be used to set up grassroots structures across the country.

Imagine having a Mapenzi FC grassroots structure in every region of Uganda. Mapenzi would have achieved in having first sight on talent that can go on to play for the club and generate money when transferred secondly, Mapenzi FC would have extended its footprint across the country to attract supporters (more revenue) when they are still young (then it will be possible to make an employee proudly wear a Mapenzi FC jersey).

DO INSTITUTIONAL CLUBS HAVE ROLE MODELS?

My example of what URA FC and other institutional clubs need to do by changing names might be coming from an amateur that lacks an informed opinion.

I suggest they benchmark CSKA Moscow in Russia because it’s owned by the army.

I am sure Police, UPDF, URA, Maroons and the rest can easily afford a trip to Moscow.

Disclaimer: The writer doesn’t have anything against institutional football clubs, all examples were used in good faith.

Laws of the game: Worry for Ugandan football.

Football has 17 laws of the game but referees are allowed to add an unwritten 18th law that requires them to use common sense especially in grassroots football.

Law 1 covers the field of play
Law 2 covers the ball
Law 3 covers the players
Law 4 covers the players’ equipment
Law 5 covers the referee
Law 6 covers the other match officials
Law 7 covers the duration of the match
Law 8 covers the start and restart of play
Law 9 covers the ball in and out of play
Law 10 covers determining the outcome of the match
Law 11 covers offside
Law 12 covers fouls and misconduct
Law 13 covers free kicks
Law 14 covers the penalty kick
Law 15 covers the throw-in
Law 16 covers the goal kick
Law 17 covers the corner kick

The Laws of the game: Worry for Ugandan Football Podcast.

These laws are formulated and amended by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

They usually do this after research from major tournaments.

If you look at the history of law changes, they originate from something observed at a major FIFA tournament.

One of the biggest law changes came in 1992 when goalkeepers were no longer allowed to handle a ball passed intentionally by a teammate using the foot. They can handle the ball if it’s passed by a teammate using any body part from the knee and above.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

The football clubs that plan player development (not in Uganda) worked out how a goalkeeper would be more involved in the game.

They started training young goalkeepers how to be comfortable with the ball at their feet because, before that, goalkeepers mainly used their hands and only used their feet to kick.

They embraced the new change and greatly worked on goalkeepers being able to use their feet to receive the ball, pass the ball short, medium or long and to dribble.

Ball-playing goalkeepers are now common but not all of them, some of the goalkeepers in clubs that weren’t playing the ball out from the back didn’t work on goalkeepers having neat footwork to move the ball.

Those goal keepers are in their 30’s and about to retire.

Football coaches researched that a team stands a greater chance of keeping and recycling possession if the goalkeeper can be involved in play or play out from the back as it’s known these days.

Of course, it has risks (Ugandans hate risks) because sometimes a back pass is under-hit or the goalkeeper messes up while passing the ball which usually results in an attempt on goal.

Playing out from the back was popularized by Pep Guardiola at FC Barcelona between 2008-2012.

That tactic has since spread out to the rest of the world but not in Uganda because we can’t apply it properly.

Every time there’s a major FIFA tournament, a technical study group (TSG) is formulated by FIFA to analyze new trends in football.

Since the 2010 FIFA World cup, the number of passes made by a goalkeeper in open play have increased greatly to a point that right from the U17 FIFA world cup (both men and women), goalkeepers are almost averaging 30 passes made per game.

WHAT’S THE WORRY FOR FOOTBALL IN UGANDA?

When football scouts are sent to watch potential signings, they have a profile for each position.

Goalkeepers in the modern era MUST be comfortable with the ball at their feet especially in open play.

Worry for goalkeepers in Uganda hoping to be scouted.

Watch a game in Uganda at any level, you’ll struggle to find a team that is comfortable building up the ball from the back.

Most goalkeepers aren’t comfortable with the ball at their feet in open play. Ugandans hate risks (especially in football) it’s understandable with competitive football that relies on results but development tournaments are filled with coaches and players scared of building up from the back just in case they make a mistake.

At the 2019 AFCON U-17 tournament, Uganda Cubs (men’s U-17 national team) struggled to build up from the back which resulted in possession being sacrificed easily on many occasions.

An underage team not having players comfortable with building up from the back is a sign that work has to be done in the junior league because that’s where the majority of coaching happens.

The other worry is that because most goalkeepers struggle with the ball at their feet in open play, it affects the coach’s ability to use certain tactics.

As Uganda cubs desperately needed one extra goal to beat Nigeria and qualify for the 2019 FIFA U-17 world cup.

Uganda cubs had to rely on taking long goal kicks that resulted in a frequent loss of possession.

More worries for Ugandan football is that IFAB has amended football laws again.

Starting with the 2019-20 season, goal keepers will be allowed to pass the ball to a player inside the penalty area when restarting play for a goal kick.

As Ugandan football struggles to deal with a law amended 27 years ago, here comes a sliding tackle.

For us to overcome the worry that is caused by amending the football laws of the game;

We need to redefine the meaning of success in under age football.

Is it winning matches and tournaments at all costs or players improving to become better than they were yesterday?

We need to learn how to teach football in the proper way by accepting that mistakes are part of learning.

It’s through this that we shall adopt a no fear of failure approach in football.

This will enable us to develop players that are capable of handling the demands of modern football that include the ability to easily adapt to amendments in the laws of the game.

Disclaimer: The writer doesn’t have anything against taking long kicks or goal kicks in football.

Standards for developing Ugandan football.

In March 2019 Bank of Africa (BOA) published a job advert for sales positions.

One of the MUST have requirements for applicants, was having scored a minimum of a credit 3 in English and Mathematics in Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE).

On 30th April 2019, Bank of Uganda (BOU) published a job advert, MUST have for the BOU job advert was a first-class degree or second upper degree.

In those two examples, the two banks SET A MINIMUM STANDARD for applicants, whether someone with lower grades can do a better job or not, that’s an entirely different debate.

When Bolton Wanderers gained promotion to the English Premier League (EPL) for the 2001-02 season, they were outright relegation candidates.

By the end of the season, Bolton had survived relegation. Sam Allardyce who coached Bolton at that time had researched about opposition teams in EPL.

In his assessment, playing against opponents like Manchester United and Arsenal (the title contenders in that era) takes them less than 11 seconds to get in front of your goalkeeper when they (Man Utd and Arsenal) are defending a corner kick.

He made sure that during the preseason, players were fit enough to handle the demands of being able to sprint the entire length of a pitch in less than 11 seconds.

The demands to play in EPL are much more than just sprinting but in that case, a STANDARD had been set to compete in EPL.

Tottenham Hotspurs has recently built a new stadium to replace White Hart Lane.

One of the reasons for moving was to meet UEFA and EPL standards for having a pitch (playing surface) that measures the 105m length and 68m in width, of course, they had more reasons higher in priority for redeveloping the stadium but whichever reason, it still comes down to the need to meet set STANDARDS.

FC Barcelona has plans to redevelop Camp Nuo because, in its current state, Camp Nuo can’t match the STANDARDS set by Barcelona’s rivals in terms of matchday revenue and experience.

In the football-related examples from Bolton Wanders, Tottenham and Barcelona, the clear observation is the need to meet set standards led to development.

WHAT ARE THE STANDARDS IN UGANDAN FOOTBALL?

At the start of the 2018-19 Uganda Premier League (UPL) season, clubs were required to have green pitches, it’s common sense to have a green pitch (standard) for a football match because it helps to have good football, reduces injuries and makes it easier to officiate among many other reasons.

Paidha Black Angels (PBA) a club based in Zombo, West Nile couldn’t have their pitch ready. They decided to play home matches 90 kilo meters away in Arua.

The cost of transporting, feeding and accommodating players and club officials from Zombo to Arua can match the cost of making a football pitch green (at least for Ugandan football standards).

PBA was allowed to play in the league sharing a stadium with Onduparaka, by the time they returned to play (not yet a green pitch) in Zombo for the start of UPL second round, PBA was facing relegation and the pitch in Arua wasn’t green anymore.

In this scenario, a standard was set but wasn’t enforced which led to reduced standards.

PBA was allowed to play without a pitch then Onduparaka used a bad pitch for the entire second round of the 2018-19 UPL season.

How will pitches develop yet no team is pushed to meet set standards?

Worse case is that accommodating PBA in the league, led to reduced standards.

What was supposed (imagining that other teams had green pitches) to be one bad pitch, created two bad pitches.

Hitting two birds (knocking out standards) with one stone.

Developing has take it or leave it conditions. If you don’t have the requirements for applying at BOU and BOA, don’t bother applying.

If Tottenham and FC Barcelona don’t redevelop their respective stadiums, then match day revenue will not increase (develop).

Ugandan Football’s challenge is that standards have been set but can’t be enforced because of the leniency to accommodate everyone. In the PBA case, a team that couldn’t meet UPL standards got welcomed with a hug.

WHAT’S THE EFFECT?

What message do BOU and BOA send out to the general public when they stick to their recruitment standards? A U.C.E candidate in 2019 will know what’s at stake should they ever wish to work at BOA and BOU in the future.

A team intending to compete in EPL will know what it takes to survive in EPL. Tottenham and FC Barcelona were able to accept their current situation then do something about it, this has led to more teams having new stadiums in Europe.

The need to meet standards helps to push development. If PBA had been kicked out of UPL for not having a green pitch, what message would be sent out to teams gaining promotion?

If PBA had worked on making the pitch green ahead of the second round. How many green pitches would be in the second tier league next season?

How easy would it be to enforce the use of green pitches in the second tier league when three relegated teams are dropping to that league with green pitches?

I don’t know about FUFA and UPL having the guts to stick to set standards but I am sure that as long as FUFA and UPL keep being lenient on who meets set standards, developing football in Uganda will continue being a myth.

In this article, I only used an example of failing to be strict with STANDARDS set for a playing pitch in UPL. That is about 1% of Ugandan football.

Disclaimer: The writer doesn’t have anything against PBA. The example was used in good faith.