SC Villa may have narrowly missed out on the 2023 league title, but the writing is on the wall that the club has established itself as a resurgent force in Ugandan football.
It is 19 years since the most successful club in Ugandan football won the league but the past 12 months have demonstrated how a sleeping giant woke up.
Villa held a two-point advantage going into the final game of the Uganda Premier League (EPL) season and we would have won the title with a win over URA FC but we ended up losing 0-1. Hard luck! Now is the time to put behind the sorrows and look at the bigger picture.
Luck was not on our side as Vipers FC clinched the title, but going forward, Villa has positioned itself as a contender for many years to come. Thanks to the leadership of Omar Ahmed Mandela, there is now a growing feeling among the Villa faithful that we are moving in the right direction and back to where we belong.
That said, there are concerns that need to be addressed before Villa can sustainably reestablish a strong foundation to claim silverware. And that starts with the club’s administration strategy.
For instance, it was a public secret even before the URA game that Villa was not ready for the financial rigours of competing on the continent, even if it won the title. It was also said that whereas Villa offered its players a winning bonus of Shs 1m for a win against URA, the opposition players had a Shs 2m tag for the win.
This greatly unsettled Villa players and the technical team. What’s more, whereas URA FC, with nothing to play for, had their squad in residential camp, Villa didn’t.
One would wonder why I would be lamenting Villa’s fortunes on this platform; it’s because Villa is not an ordinary team or UPL participant, it is a power centre that is supposed to challenge any form of mediocrity in domestic football.
That’s the unique place Villa has occupied for years. I am, therefore, challenging the status quo of the team, right from the executive to the fans, to look at the bigger side of issues instead of expending energies on the next fixture like we blindly did in the latter stages of the UPL season.
There is also a need for a direct and proactive approach to club strategies given that funding is no longer a big issue following the acquisition of about Shs 3bn from the Uganda National Roads Authority (Unra). The Villa spirit requires all club stakeholders to be informed of the club’s direction and thereby toe the line enunciated by the executive.
Villa is lucky to have a person like Mandela who wholeheartedly seeks to improve the club’s fortunes, and regardless of the trophy-less 2022–2023 season, the club is well-placed to end the barren run of trophies since 2015, when we won the Uganda Cup.
Going forward, the Villa Congress, which plays the oversight role, needs to do more to assist Mandela in decision-making. Leaving all the burden to the executive is draining Mandela’s efforts to build a long-term relationship with fans and partners.
We also need to have a vibrant Villa Members Trust as well as club trustees in order to coordinate club strategies. If this is not well streamlined, the vultures are waiting to grab the keys to the destruction of the new foundation laid by Mandela. The VMT and Congress should wake up from their comfort zones and make efforts to complement Mandela’s good heart.
The author is SC Villa first vice president in charge of mobilization