By Norman Katende
FORMER national league champions URA have started talks with English Premiership club Manchester United on a partnership that will see them develop their Bugema land into a regional academy.
The talks that were initiated by Eddie Kisitu, the founder of the Africa Nations Cup UK, were attended by URA chairman Ali Ssekatawa and the English club's chief operating officer Michael Bolingbroke at Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Lancashire.
"They liked the idea and agreed with us on principle though they asked us to send them all the required paperwork,” said Ssekatawa.
After the talks, Ssekatawa was invited to watch United's Premier League match against Southampton at Old Trafford, which ended in a 1-1 draw on Saturday. He was invited to the director's box which also had among others Manchester United legends.
Ssekatawa meets Manchester United COO Michael Bolingbroke
Through holding formal talks with the Manchester United officials last week, URA has been asked to present a formal request with supporting documents for the academy, which could be the first of its kind in Africa.
The academy will specifically target the talented youngsters in Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania, DRC and Kenya with Manchester United providing the required technical support.
However, URA's request for a pre-season tour of the Manchester United team in East Africa was turned down.
"They said that the best they can get for now is the second side for the club and maybe some top stars," said Ssekatawa.
"We remain positive for the long term strategy of constructing and establishing a modern soccer academy for East and Central Africa."