- The issue: Uganda premier league
- Our view: The game has become scientific and unless Ugandan clubs embrace the newest dieting, training and organisational practices, The Cranes will remain whipping boys at Chan.
After a Cecafa and Chan-induced break, the 2017-18 Azam Uganda Premier League resumes at the weekend across the country.
The league is the heart and soul of football everywhere in the world and its return is eagerly anticipated by fans of the beautiful game. Clubs have strengthened in the mid-season transfer window to ensure that they plug holes from the first half of the campaign.
But what Chan 2018 showed was that the general quality of the Ugandan game lags behind the continent. The best players the Uganda premier league could present for the national team in Morocco were only good for a goal and nothing more.
It is very important that the quality of the league is enhanced because you rarely find a strong national football team from a weak league.
Fixing the physical and psychological gaps in the Ugandan footballer can’t be done in the second round of the league; it is a meticulous process that must start with how clubs prepare young footballers. In fact the results may appear in years.
But that is the route to success and there is no short cut.
The game has become scientific and unless Ugandan clubs embrace the newest dieting, training and organisational practices, The Cranes will remain whipping boys at Chan. New coach Sebastien Desabre, the affable Frenchman, is carrying a huge weight of expectation from fans, who see him as a ‘miracle’ worker.
But Desabre can only do so much. He will not make the league stronger. And neither will he nurture and prepare youngsters maturing into club football.
Mostly he will be watching league games to see the talent pool from which to select players, who can represent the national team.
Yet if clubs worked towards developing footballers the right away, they would go a long way in lessening the challenge that awaits Desabre. It is encouraging that some clubs have secured sponsorship deals from corporate bodies and Fufa have staked greatly improved prize money for the winner of this year’s league championship.
The Sports Broadcasting TV deal that was unveiled last month will be a much-needed shot in the arm for the game provided it avoids the mines that claimed GTV, DSTV and the soon-to-depart Azam.
But all that will come to nought if clubs do not change how they hone the on-pitch and off-pitch abilities of footballers. Football stakeholders, and in particular clubs, would do well to appreciate short-term losses and long-term gains in the effort to produce quality talent to compete with the best Africa has to offer.
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