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Decentralizing the game is the way to go for Uganda

I am sure it is in everyone’s interest to have the game of football spread out across the country. The question is always, how?

It pains to see top-flight football played in greater Kampala as though the rest of the country is not interested. I appreciate that Fufa has tweaked the football set-up a number of times but we are yet to attain an all-inclusive format to spread out the game in all parts of the country.

Even the few times when teams like Onduparaka or Nyamityobora have popped up, they have not lasted long, partly due to the huge costs of their long-distance travels to Kampala. It is from this background that I propose a five-year strategy to revive football interest starting at the district level.

I believe this is the best way to bring football closest to the people. This ought to be a direct Fufa project. The federation would invest in the district leagues through offering technical and financial assistance.

Uganda has 135 districts but it is a fact some of them even lack established football teams or pitches. So, when will the like of Kanungu or Kaabong bring clubs to the top-flight if they don’t even have access to serious competition?

If Fufa set aside just 10 per cent of their annual Shs 26bn budget from government for district football mini leagues, we would witness a surge in talent as well as grassroots interest in the game. Then again, these community-based clubs at district level would be encouraged to enter public private partnerships (PPPs) with various entities to bolster support.

From the district mini league, the top performing teams would qualify for the regional tournament. I understand regional football already exists but its competition has over the years been diluted by the Fufa Big League.

To revamp its strength, the Fufa Big League would be scrapped and, instead, the top five teams from the region would qualify directly to the Uganda Premier League.

To me, it makes a lot of sense to approach football with a bottom-to-top strategy instead of monitoring and supervising the game at national level.

I understand this pilot project can easily be ignored but there is little to show for that the current set-up is progressing and taking Ugandan football in the right direction. Perhaps tweaking the game once again can unlock the much-desired interest in the game. And, it has nothing to do with football politics.

The author is SC Villa president emeritus

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