On Monday 8th April 2013, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) ended its marriage with Uganda Cranes Coach Bobby Williamson after close to five years in charge of the national team. In his reign, the 51 year old Scottish manager won four CECAFA Championships but his undoing was failure to steer Uganda Cranes to the Promised Land; Africa Nations Cup finals in three attempts that is 2010, 2012 and 2013 despite being so near.
There is no denying the fact that coaching job the world over is target and performance based and perhaps Bobby has failed to deliver as per his contract which is only known to the federation since it has never been public.
Nevertheless, the question that should come into Uganda’s soccer fraternity is simple – is sacking Bobby the solution to problems facing Uganda’s football? Of course the former Kilmarnock and Chester City manager was just a small particle of a big problem.
Former Cranes Coach Mike Mutebi argues that sacking Williamson is just a scapegoat but believes lack of structures, lack of a competitive national league, dormant technical committee and political disorganization both at club level and at FUFA are the major obstacles to Uganda’s football development.
“In such cases, it’s always the Coaches that are sacrificed but its high time we looked at a bigger picture”, Mutebi told Kawowo Sports in an exclusive interview.
“Of course as a Coach, you are hired to produce results but let’s be considerate and ask ourselves, have our administrators, we (technical people) done enough to lay the foundation for success”, he continued.
“There are no youth structures in place and the only major source of talent are schools competitions but look at the disorganisations in such competitions”, he noted before pointing out the fact that currently, footballers are paid salaries on top of bursaries to play for certain schools because they need to win at all costs.
“It’s unbelievable but students earn salaries to play school football. This kills the game in a way that these players will no longer play at higher level to attract interest from super league clubs since they already earn where they play”.
“During the 80s till the 90s, this couldn’t happen. That is why players like David Obua, Ibrahim Ssekagya, Jackson Mayanja, George Ssemwogerere and the like fought hard while at school to earn contracts with super league clubs”, Mutebi acknowledged.
He also pointed at the lack of a competitive league and weak club structures as other segments that must also be addressed if we are to iron the problems.
“There is no way the national team can be strong without a competitive league since leagues feed the national teams. Look at the situation now, two national leagues running in the country and you expect a step forward”, he bemused.
“It’s one reason we always rely on professional players who are also inactive with their clubs because we feel our league is not competitive enough. This partly explains why our players fail in top leagues. They are not used to being competitive”, Mutebi said arguing that the reason players like Ibrahim Ssekagya, David Obua, Timothy Batabaire, Posnet Omwony, Nestroy Kizito and Geoffrey Sserunkuma have been at least successful at professional level is because they played here when the league was still competitive.
Former Cranes assistant Coach Sam Ssimbwa conquers with Mutebi and draws the example from his playing days.
“I think the federation must ensure the league is strong instead of creating divisions in clubs like they did with SC Villa. If we had a good league, there would be no reason to rely on inactive so called professionals. I never played professional football but used to compete favourably with the Mayanjas (Jackson Mayanja) who plied their trade abroad”, Ssimbwa said.
In the end, the sacking of Bobby Williamson should be the beginning of the cleansing of the dirt in the beautiful game?