England should breed its own Januzajs
Posted Tuesday, October 8 2013 at 01:00
It comes across as shamelessly opportunistic that England should be looking to snap up the latest football sensation to hit their shores from elsewhere and make him their own.
Belgian wonderkid Adnan Januzaj, hero of Manchester United’s desperately sought after comeback win over Sunderland on Saturday, could be eligible to play for England in five years if, as they seem to now suggest, the English then invoke residential rules in place for nationalising foreigners.
Times have changed and it is no longer an issue that people of different ethnic diversities should be citizens of countries in which they were neither born nor have any blood lineage. While football and indeed all sport bring that to light, it is a reality of all walks of life in previously conservative Europe and the rest of the world these days.
The advent of the European Union, opening up of borders, relaxing of immigration laws and all else including but not restricted to the trending matter of adoption, have contributed to the so called global village and the changing face of identity.
A good fraction of the German citizenry today is not exactly what Adolf Hitler had in mind when he preached Aryan supremacy some 70 years ago; the Azzuri ultras with banners screaming ‘there is no such thing as a black Italian’ have not stopped Italy’s national team setup from making Mario Balotelli of Ghanaian parentage their star man, and before him they had capped Fabio Liverani of Somali roots and have since fielded Argentines Mauro Camonaresi and Pablo Osvaldo.
So, where the French set the tone decades ago with the assimilation policy that culminates in the current Les Blues squad being predominantly of players of west African and north African origin, others have since followed suit to the point that Belgium’s attack at the 2014 World Cup will be led by a Lukaku and a Benteke.
From Eusebio (Mozambique) in the 70s to Nani (Cape Verde) today, Portugal has adopted many from former outposts, a long list that includes Brazilians such as Deco and Pepe from their biggest territorial conquest of colonial times; ditto the Dutch. But the latter day opening up of borders has brought them in from much closer to home, hence a Germany line-up on international match-day littered with Turks and Poles.
In that light England can’t be blamed for eyeing Januzaj longingly. After all, even if the kid has a Belgian passport, in his veins runs Balkan blood. What the English have to wake up to though is that they don’t have to wait around for a Manchester United to bring in such a special kid at 16 because their big clubs are under too much pressure for results that they import them experienced, mature and already capped; the Januzaj ‘accident’ will only happen once every 10 years or so.
Why have to wait another five years for this particular kid to make up his mind when, if they got eight-to-eleven-year-olds born and bred at home they could teach them to love and caress a football the same way Januzaj does, and put them straight into the England team at 18 without worrying about eligibility, allegiance and competition?
So should Uganda …
Adnan Januzaj’s case inevitably gets me reminiscing about Uganda’s past and pondering its future.
I have lately cried out to our football federation to go in search of the several Januzajs we have in the academies and reserve sides of English clubs across the several divisions, before the English invoke residence rules to ‘steal’ them; all across Europe we have such players as the Martin Mutumba case has shown, and Ibra Sekagya at Crystal Palace is the latest our Cranes hierarchy has set out in pursuit of.
Tracking down boys with Ugandan roots out there and bringing them home for national duty is only one of the things we ought to be doing however. For umpteenth time, I will say that despite the relative success of our national team in recent times, overall and with the bigger picture properly visualised we have stagnated and lost several years of valuable time in the well chorused and chronicled money/power struggle that has engulfed the domestic game. It is being said that the warring factions are steadily closing in on a long overdue truce, the intricate dynamics involved notwithstanding. We wait with bated breath.
After the dust has settled (that is as inevitable as we are mortal), it is imperative for us to make up for lost time by concurrently digging into our past and embracing a future we ought to have made our present years ago.
The resources (institutional and personal) that the guys at the federation have blown just to stay ahead in this most expensive of wars would have been enough to finance the setting up of a school of excellence modeled on the success story that is France’s Clairfontaine; the time and energy wasted on the squabbling could have gone into mobilasation, strategic planning and execution, and this school would now be a living example of Uganda’s ability to define our destiny, to forge our own future.
Never mind the federation, how about the clubs which have been used as dispensable pawns at the expense of individuals, institutions that have been brought to their knees and are threatened with complete extinction? For Fufa that school of excellence would be breaking new ground, but the clubs have done it before and so it is not delusional to see history repeating itself.
When you hear England talk up a kid from the Man United academy, don’t you contemplatively think back to the days when KCC’s junior side City Cubs produced players who went on to shine for KCC and other clubs as well as The Cranes, boys-to-men like Charles Baker Masiko, Yusuf Ssonko, Jimmy Sekandi, John Tebusweke, Godfrey Kateregga, Joseph Sekitto, John Kaweesi and George Sserunjogi?
Express didn’t quite promote kids from Wembley Boys to the senior side, but Sam Ssimbwa emerged from there and onto KK Cosmos, KCC and the Cranes. If your memory doesn’t stretch that far back, then look to recent years and Jogoo Young producing different generations of Cranes stars, from Steven Bengo through Godfrey Walusimbi to Emma Okwi.
Now these clubs are broke, disorganised and disenchanted.