Here is why Obua, Mbabazi should hold their heads high


What you need to know:

Even those half a dozen months or so that had Obua in the saddle were not quite remarkably uneventful as the URA FC top brass would want many to believe.

The pink slips that Charles Livingstone Mbabazi and David Obua recently received (i.e. the former) or are reportedly on the verge of receiving (i.e. the latter) from their erstwhile employer in Uganda’s top flight football league deserve close study.

By the time your columnist filed this dispatch, URA FC had not yet responded to rumours that Ugandan club football aficionados have for days been force-fed in varying degrees of dilution. There was, however, an awful inevitability that Obua—much like Mbabazi, the immediate past Vipers SC coach—had, perhaps, long come to the anguished realisation that stability was hardly the middle name of a project he was asked to run point.

In fact, the direct yet delicate Venn diagram of Mbabazi and Obua—vaguely imagined by observers months back—was tested to destruction by maleficent, if malevolent, forces that continue to assail Ugandan football. The ties that bind both Mbabazi and Obua, at least as football coaches, are easy for the naked eye to make out. The former Cranes players are as animated as one can possibly get while in the dugout. 

To add to the aforesaid obvious, if not necessarily manifest, similarity, playing on the front foot captures the fancy of both coaches. While the result of the so-called Obuaball looks primed to be sadness and pain, there is no objection to the fact that it was arrived at via an exhilarating and fascinating adventure. Yet there was always the feeling that despite Obua doing his best to exude a careful and coaxing charm, intrigue in the control room would not give way to cheers and applause.

Even those half a dozen months or so that had Obua in the saddle were not quite remarkably uneventful as the URA FC top brass would want many to believe. The protracted negotiations that culminated in Obua signing on the dotted line teemed with many telltale signs. Why was the former Cranes skipper stalling on agreeing to terms laid out in his contract?

You did not need to have a forensic accountant’s eye for the minutiae to see through Obua's controlled demeanour. It was always a matter of when and not if things would fall apart. For now, though, let us stay in the if world.

If recent media reports are to be believed and Obua was this week forced to release his grip on the URA FC coaching reins, untenable contradictions are bound to be laid bare. As indeed they have. Obua, who gained renown as a flawed genius during his playing days, has in recent times appeared to lose patience with some of his players. Last weekend, he took the unusual decision of stripping Enock Walusimbi of the captain's armband during a 1-0 loss away to Express FC. 

Conceptualisations of moral sympathy—be they who attracts it, who gives it, what action it inspires—can be akin to a coin toss. The understanding that coaches need to be given time to stamp their mark on a team gives Obua's predisposition to young players at URA FC the truth of innocence. It can even be argued that URA FC owes a debt to him that goes beyond the professional. Yet it would be delusional for the upstart coach to think that maleficent forces at the club (and they are many!) would remain quiet while he lost control of the dressing room.

Regardless, this column offers its sympathies—moral or otherwise—to both Obua and Mbabazi whose departure from Vipers was confirmed on Monday. Your columnist appreciates the fresh ideas that both coaches have in their own awkward way attempted to articulate. For a country that has been all too eager to recycle coaching fossils, both Obua and Mbabazi have been a fresh breath of air. 

One can only hope that their recent travails do not deter fresh faces harbouring thoughts of diving into the deep end. Above all, Obua and Mbabazi should pick up handy lessons from being pink-slipped. Such experiences are constitutive of a learning curve.