3 January 2013

Uganda: Taking Stock of Fufa's 2012

Lawrence Mulindwa, the Fufa president, made his end-of-year address before the media on December 31, 2012 at the Fufa offices in Mengo.

Contrary to his usual style when he would lash at his critics, this time round, the football boss was mellow, occasionally unleashing his charm as he sent his audience into laughter. Mulindwa highlighted the achievements of Fufa in 2012 in a six-page write-up, detailing how the sports body has surmounted various hurdles to put the game in the limelight.

First and probably the most important, Mulindwa spelt out that Fufa had made giant steps when they adopted a new constitution through the guidance of Fifa. Indeed, this development put Uganda on the same page with the rest of the global football family. The constitution would address all football-related challenges that have afflicted the game in the past.

Fufa's previous constitution had 154 delegates but the new only allows 86, which, according to Mulindwa, will allow for more efficient deliberations on football issues. But while this was good news, earlier, a court case had been filed by a Fufa delegate, Zubair Galiwango, who alleged that Mulindwa had inserted two more clauses in the new constitution in a bid to remain in power for at least another year.

This looming case, if not withdrawn, is bound to create a lot more unrest in the game. That aside, Mulindwa noted that they had brought into existence the Fufa Super League (FSL) as a new body running top-flight football and that the 16 FSL clubs are now Fufa members. Put simply, this situation allows for a good relationship between Fufa and the clubs. But observers feel the situation is untenable.

Top clubs like SC Villa and Express have been divided into two factions - one in the FSL and the other in the USL. It's said that Mulindwa needed to create breakaway clubs so that he could legitimize the FSL. And yet, while having Fufa and USL working together is a more pertinent issue, Mulindwa didn't mention it in his address.

Just last week, a communication signed by Abbas Kaawaase, chairman of the FSL board, stated that they wouldn't merge with any league, yet this is what the Education minister Alupo had ordered, giving a deadline of January 31. But to Mulindwa's credit, The Cranes have continued to flourish in the Cecafa, winning their fourth Cup recently. None of Mulindwa's predecessors achieved such a feat.

Nevertheless, the general consensus is that they need to see The Cranes qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations as well. Of course, we are all aware that The Cranes missed out narrowly on South Africa and Mulindwa duly reported that the team is 86th in the world ranking. But then again, Ethiopia and Niger, both ranked lower, qualified for Africa's greatest football show-piece starting on January 19 in South Africa.

The Cranes are still within it though to qualify for the 2014 World Cup - it is second to Senegal in its group although here, only the group winner proceeds to the next qualification stage. Similarly, women's football needs as much support. Mulindwa said Fufa has courted a technical consultant, Lisa Berg from the US, where women's football is a success.

In January last year, Berg helped conduct a coaching course where 38 female coaches participated. This is expected to improve the quality of female players in the country. But the lack of a national women's league casts a shadow on all these efforts. However, a Caf Licence 'c' coaching course was also conducted later and 28 Super League and Big League coaches passed much to the benefit of the players.

That said, Mulindwa also welcomed the Uganda Cranes Initiative (UCI), a football fans body that fundraised for The Cranes and paid for the team's hotel bills during the Cecafa. The football boss praised their efforts, saying his body was relieved of the financial strain they normally encounter as they prepare the team.

In a nutshell, this year, Mulindwa will be seeking a new term in office and to do that, he'll need a good working relationship with all stakeholders, which he promised. But that must begin by resolving the conflict between Fufa and USL.

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