Before the FIFA Development Officer Ashford Mamelodi concluded his five-day visit to Uganda on November 3, he spoke to FUFA’s Head of Communications, Rogers Mulindwa on issues related to soccer development. Read on.
Qtn. What was the purpose of your visit?
This is a routine visit. I do it in all countries within my jurisdiction, one time I am in Uganda, Niger or in South Africa or any other country.
Qtn. What’s your comment on the work progress at Njeru Technical centre?
I have been there to assess the performance on the ground and it’s an impressive work. I had expected the work to be complete by end of December but the contractors are almost 90 % done. If it hadn’t been the continued rains in Uganda, they would even have completed by now. I am very happy about this.
Qtn. Does it earn Uganda a fourth FIFA Goal Project?
It’s important we finish up the third Goal Project first. But the FUFA Executive Committee must also start thinking of the next Goal Project. Where do they want to spend the money? After agreeing on the choice of the project, then they apply to FIFA. This impressive performance with the third Goal project puts them in the ripe position for another one. Starting January, the goal Project money will be revised upwards to U$ 500.000.
Qtn. Uganda narrowly failed to qualify for the CAN finals another time. Did you feel sorry about this?
It was a pity that Uganda did not qualify. They came very close and I thought they were making a new paragraph in the continental history but I was shocked with the last minute results against Kenya. However that’s football and there are many other chances to come. The next qualifiers begin early next year and I hope Uganda will utilize the campaign well.
Qtn. How do you rate Uganda’s current standard of football?
FUFA president, Lawrence (Mulindwa) and his team have done a good job. Football is not only measured by qualification to continental tournaments or World Cups but there are many other check points. The situation in this country is far better than the one I knew ten years ago. The FA leadership should know that there is no short cut to success. We need to go towards grass root work. Tanzania recently launched the grass root program. We are waiting for the Ugandan government to sign the Memorandum of Understanding because the program needs a lot of central government support. I am also happy with the organization at the secretariat. The federation is now stable and should not relax but instead keep up the fight for better results.
Qtn. You spearheaded the formation of the Jinja Declaration Committee (JDC). Has it served the purpose?
If well utilized, JDC would have played a good role in the proper management of the premier League but I have been receiving complaints from its chairperson (Richard Omongole) that the committee is sidelined by USL. FIFA ran that workshop in Jinja to help Uganda take their League to a professional level but the good idea is being mismanaged by a few individuals with in USL. My visit has seen the clubs make some changes in this committee and I hope for the better.
Qtn. What’s your take on the operations of USL?
I must emphasize, there is no other body that supersedes the federation and it’s therefore wrong for USL to assume more powers than FUFA whether it’s a company limited or not. USL is a structure under FUFA mandated by the federation to run the league. If there are individuals within USL that don’t like the FA leader, they should wait for the election time but must avoid politicizing football. The USL Board can never be equal to the federation. I am not here to plead with the clubs, they are aware that FUFA had a choice not to provide for the establishment of this board. This very good concept is being hijacked and used as a tool to fight personal battles by some people. That’s wrong and it must stop.
Qtn. What was FIFA’s message to the clubs?
If such disputes continue, FIFA will suspend FUFA. There will be no league, Uganda will not participate in CAF or FIFA organized tournaments and football will be gone. I am told that’s what some people want to see and attribute it to Mulindwa’s failure but even the sponsorship money that excites them will go. That’s a scenario I wouldn’t like to see happen and I call for a change. How do you allow non acceptable referees to officiate league matches! Let nobody take FIFA lightly.