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The restless epidemic of Ugandan footballers

By Football256 Team

How often do you see a Ugandan footballer stay put at an address for a considerably longer period of time? (Assuming “considerably lengthy” is anything between 3 to 5 years). Well, your guess is as good as mine!

On closer scrutiny, we seem to be clouded by the pomp and glamour that is associated with playing professional football and why not. Not with the handsome pay cheque and perks that come with it. And the mere blatant fact that one plies their trade outside the Ugandan territorial boundaries, or better, outside the African continent.

But the million dollar question that baffles me time and again is why don’t our players ever stay for long at their respective clubs? This may even apply locally too as many a time we’ve seen players leave and return to clubs with insulating ease. Notable mentions could be guys like Vincent Kayizzi, Tony Odur, Robert Ssentongo and lately Brian Umony.

Not to say that it’s a vice of any kind but with continuous stability comes numerous merits like bonding & building of chemistry within your base camp. Creating networks that can come in handy in the near future and also the comfort that comes with acclimatization. This, in turn, can boost performance as one is comfortable with their working environment.

Now enter Hassan Wasswa Mawanda and my heart does bleed. For many, he broke onto the scene somewhere around 2006 while playing for KCCA FC. He joined St George in Ethiopia in 2007, he then moved south to sign for FC Cape Town in South Africa. In 2009 he was taken on by Turkish outfit, Kardemir Demir Çelik Karabükspor.

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David Obua while playing for South African giants Kaizer Chiefs, he has also played in Scotland before hanging his boots. ©Pic: Gavin Barker/backpagepix

That’s around the time he started receiving frequent national team call ups under the then stewardship of coach Robert Williamson. Since then he’s played for Altay S.K (2010-11), Kayseri Erciyesspor (2011-12), KCCA FC(2012-13), Dong Nai FC(2013-14), SC Villa (2014-15), Al-Shorta (2015-16), Al-Nejmeh (2016-17) and most recently El-Geish. Not to mention a six-month stint at Vipers also.

Now, if you look at the years critically, you’ll notice that he’s played for a year and a half at most at a club yet he’s a stalwart for the Cranes. So how much more important or invaluable would he be had he stayed put or longer at some of those clubs?

The truth is we’ll never know but you get the feeling that such an experience would have propelled him to somewhere near the heights achieved by senior players such as David Obua (Kaizer Chiefs & Hearts between 2005 to 2012) and the unfathomable professional that was Ibrahim Sekagya (Arsenal de Sarandi, Redbull Salzburg & New York Redbulls between 2005 to 2014).

It is evidently clear that Obua and Sekagya garnered more experience with staying longer at their addresses and this was also witnessed with how they became integral players for the National Team.

As we speak now, Hassan Wasswa is definitely Egypt bound come June for the AFCON finals because of the versatility and instrumental experience he adds to a rather younger and somewhat naive squad.

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Ibra Sekagya’s patience took him to Argentina, before enjoying a sucessful season with Red Bull Salzburg in Austria, he also played for New York Red Bulls in the MLS | Courtesy Image

But then that leaves a lot to be desired of the other senior personnel within the team if we look at a player who’s clubless as a cog of the team. Especially considering how he was dearly missed in defence, then you’ve got to feel about what Cranes other mature heads got to offer to the team outside the pitch.

All in all, the footballing mother body, FUFA, has got to act. Whether it means holding seminars to sensitize the players on the benefits of having consistency in their playing careers vis-a-vis their performances for the national team.

This shall mean upholding key virtues such as professionalism, respect and even conduct which is pivotal considering the fact that many of the national team players are models to millions of other Ugandans.

Ugandans are known for easily moving on and this habit could be a norm that’s cited in our players’ inability to stay longer at a club but if it’s really hampering the level of their performances, then it’s about time this ‘vice’ is curbed.

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