By Immanuel Ben Misagga
A few months ago, a respected football scout interested me to recruit to Villa a 17-year-old top prospect based in Kabale.
I was awed when I saw footage of this student in action and, as a show of commitment, immediately paid his school fees to prepare him for Villa in a few years.
To my surprise, I was informed a few days later that the same player had been approached and coerced to sign a pre-contract with a football agent, thereby binding the player to stay with the agent when he comes of age.
What this means is that for Villa to sign the youngster, it will have to go through his ‘agent’ to negotiate terms and conditions.
In other words, the youngster’s career – even before he makes a telling contribution – is now in the hands of the agent, who will contribute absolutely nothing to the player’s welfare but will instead negotiate his commission when the player signs a professional contract.
It is, therefore, unlikely Villa will move for the youngster in future given how agents manipulate the mindsets of youngsters to think of big money when they haven’t even achieved anything.
Unfortunately, there is a growing number of such cases in the game and many promising careers may be compromised as a result.
Agents are killing the game and matters are not helped by the fact that FUFA is simply looking on because some of these agents are top FUFA officials.
Players have become enslaved in a way and are blurred not to think about growing their careers. Instead, they are being coached to look for the easiest way to make a quick buck.
It is for this reason that today’s players hardly stay at one club for three seasons and even when they do so, they prefer signing one-year contracts.
Agents too are pushing to have their players portrayed in the media as stars by influencing the award of win man-of-the-match gongs to raise the player profile to be marketable.
I’ve had several engagements with FUFA about the issue but they instead point me to club academies where clubs have full control.
Unfortunately, academy football has never been proved to be the magic bullet in club football, especially for a team like SC Villa, whose history of successful recruits is associated with schools or village-level community clubs.
The likes of Magid Musisi (RIP), Paul Mutakabala, Agrey Bigala, Geoffrey Bukohore, Hassan Mubiru and Andrew Mukasa walked straight into the first team as teenagers because they were already established elsewhere.
Today, that is almost impossible and given Villa’s history of having the best crop of players, elevating players from the academy is a pipe dream.
So, Villa has to buy or groom top prospects but this has been frustrated by this racket of so-called agents who roam the country tying up players deemed to be future stars.
As a result, players have become money-minded. The end game is that we are wasting our time if we think youth football will develop by having agents running the show on behalf of the players.
The author is SC Villa first vice president in charge of mobilization and Fans Affairs