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Sound beat of Fufa Drum rubs many the wrong way
Robert Madoi
Posted: 3 weeks 3 days

When the Fufa Drum germinated last October, it struck one as being very provincial especially after Fufa boldly stated that "the tournament [will take] the game to the masses based on [16] provinces in Uganda.” The nascent tournament took its first baby steps yesterday when Busoga welcomed the visit of Bugisu at Bugembe Stadium.

Seven more matches have been shoehorned into today’s schedule. Although it is early days yet, the maiden prognosis suggests that the sound beat of the drum pretty much satisfies a simultaneous taste and revulsion for grass-roots football. It has not helped matters that the tournament clearly relies on a muddled combination of established as well as up-and-coming players.

Topflight club Vipers particularly took exception to an approach it labelled counterproductive. In a no-holds-barred letter signed off by club chief executive, Peter Lwanga, the Venoms stated in no uncertain terms that there is nagging fear in the knowledge that “the tournament[’s] core objective of unearthing new talent” is “dilute[d].” Basing on the stated concern, Vipers categorically barred its players “from taking part in [the] tournament as a measure to safeguard the club[’s] interests.”

Unsurprisingly, Fufa has since responded to Vipers with a defiant reaction that carries with it an air of desperation. The local football governing body Fufa has not scored any points by threatening punitive action on Vipers and indeed any entity that doesn’t support the tournament. Vipers' concerns that the Fufa Drum rests on a troubling if rickety foundation are genuine and should be treated as such. The concerns speak to an age-old problem that has so bedevilled Ugandan football. That problem revolves around recycling players.

Last Sunday, Fufa Big League outfit Simba FC came menacingly close to picking KCCA FC's scalp in the Uganda Cup round of 32. Your columnist learnt with a mixture of fascination and alarm that Robert Kimuli put Simba in front in the cup fixture. What occasioned the mixed feelings was the fact that Kimuli is hardly a Johnny-come-lately. The midfielder won a league title with Police in — wait for it  — 2005. Unlike most second-tier leagues the world over that teem with fresh talent, the Fufa Big League has a proclivity for players who are no different from the Rolling Stones on one final tour. This has left Ugandan football at a loss for it clogs a pipeline meant to bring forth new faces.

Many expected the Fufa Drum to produce a different beat. They couldn't have been further from the truth! There is not the slightest doubt that the tournament was lauded to the skies long before it had learned to fly. Ugandan football could do with some fresh talent. It is bitterly disappointing that the Fufa Drum has for some reason chosen not help in this regard. Those suggesting that the tournament be held in the off season to fashion a win-win situation also risk backing a wrong horse if established players are used. Such an undertaking will result in burnout of players. So, after all is said and done, what exactly is the purpose of the Fufa Drum? Your guess is as good as mine.

Robert Madoi

Sports Producer

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