BUL Football Club Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ahmed Kongola is an experienced and visionary sports administrator.
Having previously served with diligence at Water, The Saints and Busoga United as Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kongola is now at another Jinja based entity, BUL in the same capacity.
He also worked at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Football Club as a team Psychologist, team manager at Sports Club Victoria University (now defunct) and served as sports tutor for 10 years at Kyambogo University (2004-2013).
In an detailed question and answer interview, he opens up on the vision of BUL, opportunities and challenges as a CEO, the FUFA’s proposals , the Coronavirus pandemic and a lot other issues.
Kongola envisions BUL as the best club in Uganda and on the African continent in four year’s time.
Kawowo Sports: Who is Kongola?
Kongola: I am Ahmed Kongola, a sports Administrator who hails from the land of Sweet potatoes and Groundnuts – Busoga in Iganga, Eastern Uganda.
I hold a bachelor of Sport Science from Kyambogo University and a master’s in Business Administration from Makerere University. I am married with children but it is a taboo in my culture to tell the public the number of wives and children you have. Currently, I am the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of BUL Football Club, the Eastern Giant.
Kawowo Sports: Towards the end of last year, you were appointed as BUL FC CEO, what are your achievements between then and now?
Kongola: Sincerely, not much has been registered. I joined the club towards the beginning of the second round of the 2019-2020 StarTimes Uganda Premier League season.
We have managed to keep around the team that played in the first round together. We have managed to put firm structures in place whereby all staff of BUL Football Club have running contracts.
All staff receive their salaries from the Bank.
We have made sure that everyone gets what he is entitled to without short cuts.
We have put in place clear communication line in terms of reporting for example; the players deal directly through the coaches then coaches to the CEO. The CEO reports to the chairman before Executive Committee of the club and so on.
Kawowo Sports: Going forward, what are your targets at BUL FC?
Kongola: Our target is becoming number one club in Uganda and Africa in four years’ time as long term target. We also need our own home. We are also working out something with the club chairman (Ronald Barente) to see that in four years we shall have achieved it. Among the short term targets is winning the StarTimes Uganda Premier League, the Stanbic Uganda cup and this is not far from now. We also need to close the gap and compete favorably with the likes of KCCA and Vipers. There is need to run BUL FC as a separate entity from BIDCO Uganda Limited. Also, we are fully opening up to public to come on board as partners.
Kawowo Sports: The CEO’s job in Ugandan football is quite challenging. What challenges have you encountered?
Kongola: Owning all decisions made whether you are part or not. Whether it is an executive decision but you have to own them because you are the one to communicate.
People expect too much from the CEOs but our hands are tied at some points more so when it comes to finances.
Majority at the club have not appreciated the roles of the CEOs save for my chairman who has put the ball on my court. It is me to lose it.
Some coaches overlap the CEOs because they have access to the executive members.
Some clubs take CEOs as office messengers. They think the CEO is the one to clean office and taking letters to FUFA.
Kawowo Sports: There are so many problems facing sport in Uganda. The issue of sponsorship is key. What ought to be done?
Kongola: This is a very big challenge in Uganda. Sponsors need mileage but with the minimal attendances on match days it is very difficult to bring one on board.
However, for us we are trying to look for partners in this case.
It is always a win-win situation.
We have opened up to companies and individuals to join us so that we can promote sports together.
Kawowo Sports: FUFA has proposals to improve club football. Among them is to reduce the current clubs from 16 to 12 by start of the 2021-2022 season. Would you support this?
Kongola: Yes, I would fully support this. In my opinion, I have no problem reducing the number of clubs from16 to 12.
We gave FUFA mandate to plan for football in Uganda, I think we should give them a benefit of doubt.
I am sure they are doing this for the good of the game however my problem is the reserve team which is mandatory.
These are players above 18 years will this mean we have to contract them FUFA should be clear on that.
Kawowo Sports: What major challenges have clubs faced in the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) lock-down?
Kongola: Oh My God!
I thought that the world needed big guns to protect itself but imagine something that requires staying home and washing hands to put the whole world on tension.
As clubs, we have been affected negatively. We are paying salaries but where the money is coming from you cannot even tell.
We do not know when this will come to pass.
We do not know the conditions in which are players are.
The morale went down actually everything is at a mess.
Kawowo Sports: Suggest means to better club football
Kongola: Players should take football as their job and give out the best from them.
Club owners should hire qualified personnel to handle their teams.
Institutional teams should be separate from the mother institutions.
Coaches should embark on reading new developments in football management and try to impart good ideas into players beyond playing the ball only.
Structures if put in place should be respected. This will motivate the implementers to do their work well. Every club should own a home for it to compete favorably with the rest.
Clubs should have philosophies whereby if you hire a coach he should build on that hence if he fails then you have a reason to fire and hire.
We need consistency in clubs. The business of recycling players and coaches should end with corona virus if we are to develop our clubs.
Kawowo Sports: Thank you for your valuable time
Kongola: It is a pleasure.