By: Mark Ssali
KAMPALA: How so sadly banal that, like the drunken driver taken leave of his faculties, Ugandan football is repeatedly zig-zagging its way back to the same spot.
It is not disappointing that there should be chaotic undercurrents emanating from Mengo, with the present Fufa administration unable to keep a lid on the laundry basket, leaving once concealed dirty linen sodden on the floor, in full public view.
As seen the world over in varying spheres, that was bound to happen going into transition following the departure of a proverbial strongman, in line with the dynamics of the politics of individual merit as opposed to structured command.
It just goes to underline the lamentations I have poured forth here for years now, warnings that were lost on almost all because the football fraternity allowed itself to get sucked into Uganda’s infamous ‘us against them’ tug-of-war in which every issue raised for consideration and debate was politicised, individualised and trivialised.
My take – and I continually insisted at the risk of tediousness – was that the fraternity had got so obsessed with relatively small matter of the identity(s) of the men in power and their replacements that they had gone completely oblivious of the bigger, more pressing need for a systems overhaul.
So, as it was with John Baptist Semanobe, Twaha Kakaire, Denis Obua and Lawrence Mulindwa, it is now with the current occupant of the chair, cries of ‘Magogo out’ starting to ring out from within and without. Whether he is befitting of that chair or not, of what long term good would the booting of Magogo on its own really be?
For a start, these calls are being mooted by people who by the look of things can now only be described as his former cronies, a small circle that so fraudulently manipulated the constitution making process to ensure that he took over but now hate his guts and can’t stand the sight of him.
If they managed to uproot him (and because of that dodgy constitution) only one of that very inner circle would be eligible to replace him anyway. And then the vicious cycle would resume, that of bickering, accusations and counter accusations, backstabbing, ego clashes, and all else.
Let us say, at a stretch, that Parliament’s findings declared the federation illegal and barred the current crop from any participation in the due process of putting it right. What then would government do? Impose on the federation a leader or revert to the same process that has been ushering them in, to predictably similar outcomes?
And should Parliament and government settle for sorting out the legality of the current Fufa set-up without addressing the bigger issue of enacting a comprehensive Sports Policy in sync with the times (away from one which is half a century old) to rule over the running of sports federations across board?
The call I have consistently and persistently made has been acknowledged by many but shunned by those in position to do something just because they chose to construe it as an endorsement for some individual or group over another, an insult to me every which way.
Shred that sham of a constitution I assert. Rip apart that Fufa Assembly and redefine it, tear up the Fufa structure and rebuild it…
Whether he would have been my choice or not, it is what I had wanted Magogo to engineer before or on assuming office, but for several reasons it is unfair to ask of an individual or small group under the circumstances, and so it has to be done wholesomely, en masse, away from the trappings of Mengo.
The opportunity has presented itself again. Let us do it together, something to outlive us and make this country the football power it deserves to be.
The hollowness of the legacies were are currently building is such that those who leave office can’t step aside with any satisfaction but instead desperately struggle for relevance shortly after, in the process further denting those very legacies. Just look around you.
Kipsiro, do not go this one alone
He will go down as one of Uganda’s greatest sportsmen of all time; yet, to cement a legacy to last beyond the track and medals Moses Kipsiro has started a running camp in Bukwo, to help those talented athletes who are under-privileged and have nowhere to turn.
Decorated from head to toe and now transitioning from the track to the road, this living legend is in the process of ‘manufacturing’ several new Kipsiros by bankrolling their basic needs, paying coaches and registering them in national competitions.
Like a celebrity or an event might go viral on Facebook and Twitter, running is trending in the real world thanks largely to Ethiopians and Kenyans, a party we have gate-crashed recently with the amazing feats of Stephen Kiprotich.
Names like Kiprotich ansd Kipsiro can become commonplace on the global stage if the kind of camp the latter has set up gets operating to the capacity it evidently can.
But even if a man like Kipsiro is used to expecting no help and getting things done on his own as a competitor, as an innovator he is going to need a hand and has to reach out for it.
It is so genuinely philanthropic of him to dig into his own earnings and savings, but he has to put together a team to help him solicit and secure sponsorships and investment before he drains out his own coffers.
Other elite athletes have gone this route before him, so he should take a look at Lornah Kiplagat’s Iten training centre, Kenenisa Bekele’s Sululta Centre and Haile Gebreselassie’s Yaya Running Village; consult with his sponsors Puma and other international corporations for technical advice, material assistance and finance; explore Uganda’s corporate world and investment opportunities etc.
Iten, Yaya and Sululta are now global tourist destinations, and Kipsiro can recreate that in Bukwo. But as he has done with starting a running team called Elgon, he is going to have to put together another one off the track.