Regardless of the repeated failure to qualify for the Africa Cup Of Nations, the temptation (whether in foresight or in retrospect) to condemn the efforts should be resisted for they only amount to wasted energy.
However, like we should have done ages ago, it is clearly time to return to a path long abandoned and prioritise development over competition.
It is not to say that Uganda should not enlist for Afcon qualifiers for the foreseeable future as I have heard suggested by some angry, exasperated and utterly disgusted types life as we have grown accustomed to it in that sense should continue, in much the same way as with all the other nations that have had to return to the proverbial drawing board after failure like we experienced in Morocco Wednesday night.
The world over, there have been cases of rebuilding for countries whose football has been seen to hit a snag from results at major tournaments or the like, but I will pick world champions Germany and recently resurgent South Africa as examples.
Comparisons with countries of such economic might and sporting prowess should not alarm Ugandans who seem to have accepted and settled for a very lowly place in the global food chain. What Germany and South Africa have done is nothing out of the ordinary but just practical and, contrary to the easy explanation we are quick to use, returning to the top has taken more planning and commitment to the cause than resources.
The signs had begun to show at US ’94, and after a terribly aging collection was embarrassed by Croatia at the France ’98 World Cup, the Germans immediately went to work, putting into law among others a move to see all domestic clubs establish comprehensive youth structures of different age groups. The kids whose nurturing started at the turn of the century are the world champions of today, and the conveyor belt is churning out quality in scary quantities.
Having failed to qualify for consecutive major tournaments in recent years, the South Africans turned to a league whose growth they have deliberately financed and supported for several years now, and extracted from it the next breed of talented youngsters who have stylishly qualified for the 2015 Afcon while knocking out African champions Nigeria.
It is time for Uganda to return to a league that was once so loved and followed, build it up again from scratch and elevate it to the pedestal of mass popularity the Uganda Cranes enjoy.
A new law must be enacted that instructs all clubs in top two divisions to have a B team of players younger than 20, providing a destination and address for all the kids coming through academies, the school system and the neighbourhoods that traditionally gave us some many of our legends in the past, so that those kids are not lost on Ugandan football before they are of age to compete at the highest level.
For funding to make this possible, our clubs must stop sabotaging each other over divisive politics, selfishness of a few and a lack of awareness of global trends. The league had started on the path to recovery and growth but has lost a lot of ground, but the clubs must collectively and wholesomely embrace the aent of live television, the loads of money that come with it, and the other corporate sponsorships it attracts.
As has happened in South Africa, a product thus well packaged gradually becomes more attractive to even more sponsorship money and stay-away fans, and then becomes self-scrutinising and self-improving in quality.
In the past I have called on our federation to institute its own school of excellence which I still believe they should, but Uganda’s history shows that the clubs have to lead the way in establishing and entrenching an all-round vibrancy from which the federation and national team will draw.
With the Cranes there will always be a reason for failure andor a villain. Club politics (1991), a missed penalty (1993), superstition spilled out of control (the Tabula incident), federation politics (the entire last decade), absentee stars, ill-timed decisions (the ejection of Obua before Kenya), bad individual errors by the overzealous, naïve or nervous (Mwesigwa in Morocco) and on and on Most of this is a result of pressure we pile upon ourselves in the short term for each isolated campaign. Let us instead make qualification for Afcon an inevitable consequence of good, long-term preparation.
IT’S TIME TO GO BACK TO THE GRASSROOTS
It is time for Uganda to return to a league that was once so loved and followed, build it up again from scratch and elevate it to the pedestal of mass popularity the Uganda Cranes enjoy. A new law must be enacted that instructs all clubs in the top two divisions to have a B team of players younger than 20, providing a destination and address for all the kids coming through academies, the school system and the neighbourhoods that traditionally gave us some many of our legends in the past, so that those kids are not lost on Ugandan football before they are of age to compete at the highest level.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor