Saturday December 16 2017

It pains to see Express FC the way it is today

By Moses Banturaki

Express FC are my club. I have followed them from “Wembley”, through Mengo Secondary school, Kanyanya, Wankulukulu and everywhere in between. And that was for club training.
I never missed their games either. I didn’t always have the entrance fee. So, it was hanging onto the arm of a benevolent stranger on good days, and climbing onto the roof of Blue Room, a building on Namirembe road that towered over the stadium walls, on bad ones. Those were the 80’s.
Then I grew up, left school and got gainfully employed. And still I followed the team with as much, if not more passion. I have been to 4pm kick-offs in Mbale and back to Kampala in time for dinner, which always meant driving irresponsibly. I have addressed unfavorable refereeing and the loss of dignity induced by huge score lines, by casting stones. I have inhaled my fair share of tear gas. Those were the 90’s.
Remember it was also the best time to be Express FC. To the best of my knowledge this was our golden era that peaked around the time we lost the 1995 Africa Club Championship semi-final to eventual winners, Orlando Pirates. Then the journey downhill started.
There have been times of success since, but mostly fleeting. We have largely lurched from one crisis to another and are right now on the brink of bankruptcy, let alone relegation.
Out of respect, I will not mention names, but it is my take that the club has been damaged by a cluster of parochial self-seekers, men and women who are sinking this once proud club under careerism and small-time politics.
It could be said that this is a common disease in Ugandan football, but while other clubs have made attempts to turn around, Express FC is still strutting around like it is 1995. This time though, that I fear not even our proud heritage will save us because the damage has been a longtime building.
Before this gets brushed aside as a nostalgic rant, why are we financially unstable and yet possess the clout to attract DSTV sponsorship and have been at the table with Sport Pesa?
Why do we have CEO’s and Coaches caught up in an administrative game of musical chairs, yet we have a Minister and Fufa Vice President for chairperson?
Of course, a connected Chairperson and club sponsorships aren’t guarantees of good governance, but they are signs that the potential never died. And you know what really pains? If we got down to it, we could attract the biggest sponsorships and the best management professionals, because we are Express FC. Our rich heritage is a market waiting to be mined for the mutual benefit of club and sponsor.
So, in conclusion it gets down to Express FC being unable or, and I hate to think, unwilling (for whatever reasons) to harness its limitless potential.
And I am afraid that is a leadership problem that the current Chair person must own up to, as a first step to redeeming the situation.