How our football can rise to greater heights

Author: Ben Misagga. PHOTO/FILE/COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • There is a need for a strategic reform to build a generation of players from the grassroots. 

Over the past few weeks, debate around The Cranes’ poor performances has revolved around tactics and players’ poor attitude.

Whereas these are genuine concerns for every football enthusiast, I believe the problem is deeply rooted in player development and handling.

Recently, I brought out how football agents at Fufa have ruined the natural development of players by offering them to the highest bidder even before maturing.

This time round, I want to dwell on the flawed system of developing players. When you put aside issues of poor form and tactics, the truth is none of the current crop of Cranes players merits a place in past Cranes generations. For instance, none has the vision and intellect that can be compared to the likes of Moses Ndaula, Steven Bogere, Jackson Mayanja and Sam Ssimbwa.

In recent years, The Cranes have made it a habit to ‘manufacture’ players through sheer grit. Geoffrey Massa, Tony Mawejje and Hassan Wasswa, among others, come to mind but it goes without saying that the current Cranes side lacks natural talent.

Even when it comes to grit and determination, I don’t see any player that can come close to reaching the heights of Magid Musisi, Paul Hasule or even Mathias Kaweesa, who were limited but shone through hard work and believing in themselves.

In fact, many of the current crop of players are remnants of the Dr Lawrence Mulindwa foundation and Fufa’s struggle to move on without them is a damning indictment on its part.  That is why I believe that coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojevic’s hands are tied working with players who cannot perform.

There is a need for a strategic reform to build a generation of players from the grassroots. Instead of Fufa investing billions in building offices, hotels and TV channels, they should be identifying new talent. 

 Last week, Fufa reawakened the Drum tournament it had introduced four years ago. Back then, I came out on these pages to pour cold water on the initiative because it was built without foundation. Passion is derived from attachment  but as we have seen at all failed attempts to popularise the tournament, the turnout has been dismal and this is mostly attributed to the fact that top-level football is a Kampala affair.

It is immaterial when a player hails from a particular region but was groomed in Kampala. Fans will not have the much-needed attachment Fufa wants to force them to.

Instead, it would have made more sense for the Drum tournament if Fufa took the grassroots game countrywide instead of talking about it in the boardrooms.

Football fans want class and results regardless of star players’ ethnicity. It is the reason Phillip Omondi, a naturalised Kenyan, remains revered ahead of stars like Moses Nsereko, and Jimmy Kirunda.

Also, before embarking on rebranding the tournament, Fufa ought to have provided a review of why the previous Drum tournaments failed.  Such a tournament would have required months of preparation where coaches spend time to identify and sell players to the respective fan base.

Tacticians like Frank Video Anyau, Hakim Magumba and Hassan Wasswa have proven themselves in spotting talent in regions that can be promoted into stars. This business of drumming up hype only when taking a game to a region will not yield fruit .

Fufa tried the same with Cranes Na Mutima drives but it turned out to be the dullest campaign. Fufa president Moses Magogo knows this but he deliberately relieved the federation from any grassroots work to concentrate on finished products of the Uganda Premier League whose value is very low. 

Mr Immanuel Ben Misagga is a football investor and businessman.


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