The Ugandan football fraternity on the morning of Monday, 14th, November, 2016 witnessed a raid by a section of ex-internationals led by Dan Walusimbi on the seat of football at FUFA House, Mengo claiming that football administration is in the hands of illegitimate people under the leadership of Eng. Moses Magogo.
Proline Media caught up with the Proline Football Club Director, Mujib Kasule at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala being an ex-international, but also as one who has served at FUFA house in the higher echelons of office and is still involved in the game 100%.
The former KCCA FC and Uganda Cranes player was asked to give his take and guidance on this perceived standoff but stressed in this interview those ex-internationals need only not to be understood but guided as well.
Below are the excerpts from the Q & A.
#PM: Director, we all saw what happened at FUFA house. Dan Walusimbi, former Cranes Captains George Ssemwogerere and Phillip Obwiny plus Issa Sekatawa and a host of other ex-internationals braved the early Monday morning downpour, stormed FUFA house and attempted to take it over, in the process destroying some property. What do you make of it?
#MK: Well, I have to first of all condemn, in the strongest terms, the vandalizing of FUFA property, or any other property, by these ex internationals. It was sad, ill-advised and for those of us to whom football is our life, very regrettable.
In any case, I don’t think that approach will yield anything for them other than ridicule from many quarters. I believe in sensible ways of attacking issues, one can be aggressive in many other ways other than physically. But I am a child of football. For as long as I can remember, I have been involved in football, and these people are my idols.
They are, and rightly so, national treasures and ought to be celebrated. So we have to ask ourselves, what made them do this? What drove hitherto peaceful people like Simulala [As Ssemwogerere is affectionately known], Sekatawa and Obwiny [who is on the current FUFA technical Committee] go down this route?
As the football industry, we need to ask and answer these questions. As a person who knows these guys, I can’t jump on the ‘blame’ bandwagon just yet. Iam more interested in the reasons why they did what they did. Yes, it was bad. Like I said earlier, ill advised, wrong approach but I hardly believe we should sweep the underlying implications under the rag of condemnation!
#PM: But surely, Dan Walusimbi has been on and on about this illegitimacy thing for some time now, even during your time at FUFA as Vice President. Surely, even you dismissed him then and maybe rightly so, as a trouble causer. What other Issues are you talking about and why now? Shouldn’t they be celebrating the recent Cranes achievements?
#MK: Dan’s issues are a Government problem. Like you put it, I have been in both places. I know FUFA’s challenges in dealing with this. The current law is not very conducive for them. Even if Dan was to be given the FUFA presidency today, in order to run the business side of things, he’d need to go the current way and do the very thing he is fighting against. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. In today’s business world, football is a profession. You have business partners. You must be a corporate body to deal with sponsors, with players, contracts etc., you can’t survive within this law currently and government knows this. But my concern is still not that because we could talk about it until the cows come home but we are not going to achieve anything, unless the law is amended.
#PM: So what is your main concern Director?
#MK: I have always stated that the game/Industry has a duty to the players (Current and Ex-players). The industry has an obligation to teach and nurture them plus help them both during and after their career.
Save for a few, as is with every situation, to most of these players, football is the only thing they know. Picture this; a boy gets into football at 14years on average in Uganda. Spends the next 20 years as a player; training, travelling, playing matches and doing football related activities.
And as is the norm the world over, as a player, everything is done for you. You are given EVERYTHING; Transport, lunch, clothing, homes, passport, school fees, rent, medical treatment etc. The club or national teams do everything for these players because they want them to concentrate on the game.
Even when they travel, some players will not even see their passports. Even the departure/arrival forms are filled in by a minder. They never book their flights, hotels etc. in some extreme cases, like at Chelsea in England, they have a minder for foreign players and a story came out that this person was called in the night because a player needed to change a bulb! So after all this, in Uganda, we discard them to the world because they can no longer play, left to their own devices. In other countries, they are prepared, trained even, to join the mainstream world in various capacities. They even attend counseling sessions. Some go into coaching, others into media, admin etc. football is such a vast industry that can swallow all of them. In Uganda what do we do? Discard them all. So of course they are disgruntled. They have/had the fame, adoration, expectations from the public and zero say or influence. They can’t even get to watch the Cranes games we are talking about. If they are lucky to watch, they are crammed in with the very masses that used to sing their name or abuse them. What do we expect? This disgruntlement will at one time boil over and we won’t like it.
#PM: The FUFA top brass said these people are idle, unemployed, led by a muyaaye and that’s why they did what they did…
#MK: Listen, I know exactly what it feels like to stop playing. More so, without prior preparation for this time. I was fortunate enough to play in America and I went through a series of sessions on this. Prepared for the ‘after-life’ if you may. It’s a real issue and I feel angry when people, especially those in football management, trivialize it. It’s a cause of depression. Real depression. It even affects people that we have watched internationally, they’re are well documented cases of former players committing suicide, resorting to alcohol, gambling etc. and before we sight the lack of money or savings in the Ugandan game, please note that these well documented examples are all over the world.
This problem manifests even in the more advanced world. Ex-Players, who are Millionaires, are battling this problem. Gary Speed [RIP] committed suicide. Stan Collymore has come out and kudos to him has openly highlighted the depression issue as a real and deep one after football. Paul Gascoigne, well, the list is endless. How many ex-players in Uganda here have been castigated for being alcoholics? Many. It’s time we realized that there is an issue that needs our attention.
I have heard some say that it’s because they are idle. That’s right there is the problem. Why are they idle? Why can’t we accommodate them as an industry? Granted, a few have trained for and got job as coaches. But there is still a lot to do. There is a serious lack of respect for ex-players in this country from the very administrators that used them for glory and it’s sickening. We need as administrators to do much more for our players in form of preparation for the after football life. At least let them fail on their own, not because of the system. Even when they fail, isn’t it our responsibility as a nation to lift them up? After all, didn’t we all bask in the glory of their sweat? How many ecstatic and euphoric people shouted themselves hoarse in the aftermath of cranes qualification to AFCON? Millions.
Can we put a price to that joy that these players bring us? Hell no. So let me put it in a clearer context here for the generations that didn’t watch Sekatawa play. If years down the road, Farouk Miya is marginalized, depressed and the administrators that are supposed to be his first line of help are shooing him away, what would that make you feel like?
#PM: Are you saying that these people did what they did because of the disrespect, and not because of the issues THEY raised?
#MK: What I have diagnosed is the underlying issue. They may jump on any platform available to them to vent but you have to know what the thinking behind is. I even heard someone ridiculing Simulala for complaining that he was given a ticket for the general stands at the Cranes game vs Congo. If you can’t see why he was complaining, or if one cannot see why a former Cranes Captain should be given a proper invitation to the Cranes games and sat in VIP, then that person has absolutely no idea about what goes on in football and shouldn’t be anywhere near football administration. Look at how former players are treated the world over! They are revered, not ridiculed.
#PM: What is your proposed way forward in combatting this issue?
#MK: It’s a multi-pronged process. Both current and ex-players need to be educated. At Proline, we do our bit but it’s a drop in the ocean.
All clubs across the country should have life lessons classes teaching players what to do in various situations that are not football. We have to offer guidance. All ex-players have to go through a similar program. The FUFA secretariat MUST provide these sessions to these people wherever they are and help them to rejoin the game in various capacities. Not only will this alleviate a problem, it will inject a much needed contribution to the game and help fast track its progress.
Believe it or not, ex-players have a deeper understanding of football than they are given credit for. Look at people like Gary Neville, Don Hutchison or Rio Ferdinand. They made enough money in their playing careers to cater for the rest of their lives without working, but they were prepared for the ‘’after-life’’ – in media, coaching etc, not because they need the payments that much, but because they need to stay in the game, in different capacities.
Mind you, these people have other investments, huge ones at that but they stay in football, because it’s what they know how to do. By the way, we talk about football but this is a general life problem. Almost all people that rely on talent to make a career suffer these problems. All Artists, Athletes be it basket ballers, runners, cricketers, etc. for as long as someone does something for a long time as a career, switching to other ways of life is difficult.
How many politicians do we see that fail or find life very hard/impossible out of politics?
This cannot be overemphasized, after playing career, these players need to be helped, prepared to face life after.
It’s not a joke. And by the way, it’s not a one person job, no individual can be tasked with redeeming this situation, neither is it a new problem. It’s something that as a nation we have not looked at, so it will be unfair to put this on say, FUFA President’s head to carry alone. It’s a Football problem that all of us in the game will have to do our bit.
As a result of our involvement in teaching players and coaches, we have come up with a book – A guide to teaching our footballers some valuable lessons in coping with situations outside the game.
We will launch it before the end of this year, at the end of year Proline Soccer Camp that will take place Mid December.
AS TOLD TO THE PROLINE FOOTBALL CLUB MEDIA