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Youth programme doomed if FUFA does not adjust

By Football256 Team
Burkina Faso' Dango Ouattara celebrates his winner against Tunisia in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal | CAF Image

By Immanuel Ben Misagga

One of the things about the ongoing AFCON that will stick in my memory is Dango Ouattara’s goal for Burkina Faso against Tunisia.

It is not just about the beauty of the goal in which he beat two defenders and left the goalie rooted to the spot.

For me, it is about the fact this is a 19-year-old who made his national team debut less than a month before that goal.

Kudos also goes to the Burkinabe coach for trusting a youngster at such a big stage where he has showcased speed and power.

In fact, they’ve been quite a number of youngsters who have catapulted their careers as a result of this AFCON.

Reflecting back home, I wonder what the powers be at FUFA think when they see such breakthrough youngsters because our youth programme has been doomed for some years.

Sadly, a 19-year-old [assuming it is the real age] cannot have a look-in into the national team, however talented he may be.

At the moment, The Cranes are engaging in several friendly matches in the Middle East and the Balkans and whereas it is a good opportunity to keep players active, these are supposed to be opportunities for young prospects.

Put simply, if Uganda is to have a friendly with any of Africa’s powerful giants, they will most likely bring along their local-based youth teams regardless of whether it is an international window.

By doing so, they expose their future stars to the drills of international football.

So, I’m in doubt that FUFA, by sending a squad of veterans for the friendlies, is a sign of operating in a rudderless way.

FUFA is comfortable maintaining age cheats for the sake of win-at-all-costs instead of fast-tracking as many youngsters as possible.

Also, the critical nurturing of youngsters is a project left to clubs to handle. It is for this reason that we have a youth team management team setup based on loyalty and patronage at the expense of experience.

Instead of people like former Cranes midfielder Hassan Wasswa, FUFA is comfortable having underwhelming people like Ali Mwebe, Ronald Kalema and Roberts Kiwanuka run the youth setup.

Kiwanuka is purposely there because he betrayed Mujib Kasule, the biggest groomer of youthful footballers. Kasule’s eye for the FUFA presidency has made every associate of his an enemy to FUFA.

Also, people like Robert Sekweyama and Nimrod Kintu have already proven themselves with handling youthful players but are never considered.

What is clear is that there is no clear policy on youth football in Ugandan football. When I look back at the flopped campaigns such as Cranes Na Mutima and The Drum, I wonder what FUFA has learnt from them.

These campaigns are supposed to be mostly for youthful players to prove their work but instead, the tournaments were for journeymen and in the end, they didn’t benefit the growth of Ugandan football.

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