By Douglas Mazune
IN a football referee’s dreaded notebook, a player’s shirt number is his Identity.
And when Express captain Willy Kavuma turns up for a FUFA Super League game with a cocktail of numbers on his shirt and shorts, one wonders what the referees consider.
In the game against Victoria last week, Kavuma’s shirt bore No.2 on the chest, No.8 at the back and the black shorts with white strips had No.18. Worst still, ESB FC was inscribed on the shirts of the Express team and while some players wore white stockings with red strips others had white stockings with blue stripes or none.
The Express situation is just but one of the numerous cases where team jerseys do not make the grade.
Villa duplicates shirt numbers
In the season opener between SC Villa and KCC, the former another with No.12. Two others had shirts bearing No.13. The game proceeded with no complaints.
SCVU mixes names
SC Victoria Universty FC, which is one of the highly regarded clubs and Uganda’s CAF Confederations Cup representatives, has not been spared the jersey glitch.
Some players wear jerseys bearing names of players who left the club last season. Fans would be forgiven to assume ex-international Mike Sserumaga changed his name to Kibirige. Simon Okwi wears Patrick Edema’s shirt name just like some of the other new signings at the club.
Victoria publicist Leon Ssenyange attributed the anomaly to delayed arrival of their new kit from Spain.
“The new consignment of three sets will be here in two weeks. We don’t buy our kit in Uganda, we have a kit sponsor in Spain. We have forwarded the list to Joma who make our kits,” Ssenyange explained.
Ssenyange took time off to offer clubs which have not fared well on that front.
“For us we have a kit sponsor but you should sparingly blame clubs for not taking the issue of jerseys seriously. They need to recruit new players, pay allowances, salary and meet many other costs. Unfortunately in the circumstances a jersey becomes secondary. If some clubs cannot afford a ball do you expect them to afford a full kit? Remember these teams do not generate money and the league is not sponsored,” Ssenyange argued.
Soana go Dutch
Soana FC chanced on an Orange and black Netherlands jersey complete with a national badge and life goes on. Just like Soana, many teams settle for second hand uniforms.
Cost of a jersey
A set of second hand jerseys in Owino Market goes for between sh200,000 and sh300,000 and they are regarded as more durable than low-budget new jerseys at the same cost in sports equipment shops in Kampala. Kwera Industries makes between sh600,000 to sh2.5m.
“We made an order for a full jersey of 25 pieces at sh2.5m. We have used it for three seasons and the material is still good. For us image is very important,” Bright Stars Chief Executive Officer Hussein Ahmed explained.
FUFA Super League Competitions Secretary Decolas Kiiza expressed disbelief. “Did you say one player with three different numbers? It is impossible,” Kiiza argued.
When New Vision Sport informed him it had photographic proof, he retorted, “It should not have been allowed. Then the match official should be faulted.”
Kiiza argued that every player on the pitch should have a distinct number for easy identification.
“It is against regulations of the game because the referee must be in position to easily identify players just in case a player commits a bad foul. About a player wearing a jersey bearing another’s name, I will need to crosscheck that one because that is also not allowed,” Kiiza stated.