At the start of the COVID-19 induced lockdown, a video of Russian Olympic swimmer Yulia Efimova practicing in a kitchen was circulated on social media.
Without a swimming pool, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games postponed and Russia banned at the Olympic games, she had a perfect excuse not to train but her passion for wanting to be a better swimmer kept her going.
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, passion is a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something.
“Passion breeds innovation, and creativity.”
Innovation and creativity are needed to solve problems; something that pays a lot of money.
Take a look at the organizations that are either the most profitable or highly influential in any sector; they solve problems.
Simplicity is genius.
Football in Uganda has a lot of problems that players, coaches, referees, and administrators at clubs and associations have failed to solve over the years.
Failing to solve problems leads to football being either less profitable or lacking influence, something that reduces the involvement of the government, sponsors, fans, media, and providers.
With less involvement of external stakeholders, it becomes almost impossible to have the funding, law, infrastructure, and policies that are needed to take football to the level of becoming an economic activity that can have a massive contribution to Uganda’s economy.
The majority of football stakeholders in Uganda claim to be passionate about football but confuse passion with the motivation for earning money at first sight.
The easiest way to find out whether an individual lacks passion is to place them in a problematic environment; do you get an excuse from them or a reason aimed at solving the problem?
Here is a scenario: In 2020, we still have football pitches that flood during the rainy season. The reason is heavy rain makes the pitches to flood. The excuse is that it’s a rainy season.
An administrator with problem-solving skills would learn how to make pitches that have good drainage to enable the pitch to be used irrespective of the amount of rainfall.
Would that enable the pitch to generate more revenue?
Football was introduced in Uganda earlier than other sectors but hasn’t developed at the same rate.
In sectors like transport, banking, telecommunications, and fashion it’s possible and feasible to import and use the latest ideas that are a result of innovation and the creativity of passionate people.
It’s possible to have a Mercedes Benz, iPhone, and a pair of damaged jeans in Uganda because those are tangible products solving your transport, communication, and dressing wants but the same can’t be said for football.
You don’t need to wait for a Ugandan made car, mobile phone, or clothing but if they existed, then home-made products in that sector would need to step up and match the quality to compete.
With a better football product being offered on pay-tv, Ugandan football can’t compete neither is it feasible to import better players, coaches, referees, and administrators.
That leaves us with no option but to be creative and innovative.
In other sectors, it’s also possible to copy hence no need to rely on innovation and creativity.
Copying might have an added cost but is still possible.
For instance; All banks seem to have SMS and E-mail notifications on account transactions but the idea must have originated from somewhere else.
In football, if you copy then chances are high that you will fail because many other conditions have to be met for the copied idea to succeed.
You can see this with the idea of how we copied the English Premier League’s model.
In less than two years, it was already a failed project because we didn’t have the competent personnel to make it work.
Ugandan football stakeholders are currently in a catch 22 situation of the money first option because we prefer instant gratification.
Football in Uganda needs internal stakeholders that see problems as an opportunity. Not an opportunity for themselves but for the next generations to enjoy football in better conditions.
We need stakeholders with a genuine passion for football to solve Uganda’s football problems.