Promoting patriotism, allowing less privileged areas to show case talent and celebrating our ancestry are high sounding phrases
The FUFA drum tournament. Created by FUFA,endorsed by the FUFA General assembly. Different regions across the country competing against each other to win a lion’s share of sh100m that FUFA has set aside.
The other incentive – a hidden one – is the chance to share the revenues that will come from gate collections.
Each of FUFA, district associations, regional associations and the two competing teams will be a beneficiary. There’s more. FUFA are talking to sponsors who might as well include the Uganda government or more curiously, the NRM as the ruling party. Here in lies the real reason behind the FUFA drum; money and security.
The organizing committee chairman Rogers Byamukama has candidly listed the secondary objectives of the FUFA drum besides the primary one, which is, deepening the grassroots football development agenda. It’s the only football objective amongst the four listed for the tournament.
Promoting patriotism, allowing less privileged areas to show case talent and celebrating our ancestry are high sounding phrases but more suited for political landscape not football.
No surprise therefore, that the official launch at Bugembe stadium this weekend was designed to have no lesser personalities in the country than his Excellency President Yoweri Museveni, Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and Kyabazinga of Busoga.
It takes an eagle eye to see that far from being a football activity, it is a political activity designed to use football as a façade. Football is the only way politicians can mobilize youths and villagers to organize under one identity and gather in large numbers to render their support alongside government.
Why else would a football administrator invoke patriotic terminology and use the person of the President to launch a ‘grassroots’ football development initiative?
My initial reaction when I first heard about this innovation was excitement. I quickly remembered the good old days in the late 1980s when the now defunct annual regional tournament pulled talent from all over to give us a feast of football entertainment at Nakivubo.
But then, early this week when I learnt that the tournament had several disclaimers that in effect made it mandatory for all Premier League clubs and players to feature once they were summoned by the coaches, I cringed. What a contradiction!
A tournament that has been designed to identify talent from the grassroots and showcase talent from the remote regions of the country must have Premier League players to give it value?
The fallacious reasoning that the FUFA drum is a FUFA tournament officially on the annual football calendar and is now therefore sanctified, must be trodden underfoot.
The architects of this insidious and nugatory agenda knew that it’s the Premier League players who would form the major attraction not just for the villagers but also, who would convince the President’s advisors that the tournament was worth his personal endorsement and sponsorship.
It’s the only reason why FUFA would attempt to blackmail clubs, their coaches and players by introducing punitive measures that include a deduction of three points in the league and withdrawal of entitled monthly emoluments from absentee players.
This is the point at which mainstream politics becomes a poisonous chalice for football. Now, clubs are caught between a rock and hard place. While some are gunning for the league championship, others are fighting against the relegation monster.
FUFA has bluntly told them, that neither of the two targets or objectives is more important to football at this moment than a FUFA drum.
Damned if you oblige, damned if you refuse to oblige. So to say, FUFA has set the precedent that it’s up to them to determine what football competition is more important, which players must be used in what competitions and what clubs’ priorities should be.
A few club owners, bosses and coaches have spoken out in protest and some even threatened to take matters beyond in search of fair play but we all know that it’s all futility.
The FUFA of today is one that sits on the high table with the President. It’s the background to the arrogance and impunity that we are all witnessing.