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Asaph Mwebaze: 10 Reasons Why Ugandan footballers Struggle Abroad

By Asaph Mwebaze

I started my career in coaching 22 years a go when I should have been actively playing. This was mostly due to doing my education abroad and studying in a country that played cricket as a national sport.

My energies where transferred to watching football and critically analyzing it for everything and in detail. One of the things I took to seriously was the player and the traits of an individual in relationship to the game.

I coached at Bugolobi Utd as the first club and later moved to Maroons football club, where I spent a good twelve years. In between I also coach Hope Doves FC. I then went on to Onduparaka in Arua and finally in Mbarara with Nyamityobora.

I can authoritatively say, I worked with all types of players in the categories of age, tribe and ethic backgrounds.

I concluded that many of the Ugandan players have raw God given talent but talent alone has not been enough to succeed.

I found the ten reasons why the majority have failed in the trade whereas the West Africans have by and large successfully played beyond our shores.

Being on time

Arriving somewhere that is either an hour away or just five minutes, always being punctual — that’s called planning. It’s a skill that many of our players think isn’t part of the game, yet the game is played on time parameters. Players arrive at anytime and will always have good stories that catch the sympathy of the listener. This will mean that, if scheduled to train for 20 hours a week he would train for 10 hours and wasting half being late or even absent altogether.

Work ethic

It’s about endurance, comparison and drive. Footballers in Uganda lack the work ethic, that requires the individual to treat the job with respect it deserves. I often challenged them with musicians and their perfectionism Players don’t realize that they play for an audience or spectators who have paid money from their jobs for this entertainment.

This would push them to perform in respect to the fan who is parting with the hard earned money . But with little or no hard work they fall by the wayside.


Honestly, this is basically the same thing as work ethic. Most of the players put very little effort in the game . At Maroons FC and Onduparaka where there were facilities and equipment, very few or non would put in an extra effort before or after the coaching instructions. Non would try to perfect a skill which they would always try to do during a game. Skills like the penalty kick , free kick , corner kick or any of the standard situations. At one club a player candidly told me classes were a waste of their time.

Body language

I have realized that this element also let’s Uganda players down often times. To be successful you need this kind of confidence that strikes a person an first interaction. Most players won’t look at you straight in the eyes or offer their hand in greeting. A player would enter an office and lean on the wall or seat on a chair in a sleeping position. This in most places would easily end the players career instantly. Football is much body language and expression, for without it most is lost.


Many players have this as a problem, which directly links to energy levels, while others are “over-energetic” and need to be taught to calm their energy levels. Other people who are naturally even-keeled need to learn how to show their energy level. The first one is a coach’s dream player because that one is an asset in training and possibly in matches. The second one is the majority of our players in Uganda, who need to be pushed to show some energy in the work process. The “senior players” at a club now days would want to control the work load thus putting in less energies. Beyond our boarders our players cannot compete thus the many failed Sojourners.


Attitude isn’t a skill that can be taught in football. You can think the cards are all dealt against you, or you can take steps to learn. You can choose to work on being better, or you can tell yourself “it doesn’t matter.” But attitude is the most important skill. It sets you up for all the others. Most of the players have the ” I don’t care attitude” for the game , for as long as his paycheck comes . One of the football Instructors in Uganda Livingstone Kyambadde always said ” Attitude determines altitude” . Simply meaning that with a better attitude the higher the chances of progress.


This comes from trying things, learning things. It could be cooking, motorcycles, gardening, music, writing, poetry, movies, decorating. Push yourself to explore. I noticed that most Ugandan players lack passion for the game and surprisingly don’t even comprehend it . In my so many interactions during classes , issues of systems and formations came up often .I have heard many players having arguments with coaches. They don’t take time to understand the game and most don’t even watch games be it live or on television.

Being coachable

This starts at a young age. Early childhood education is key. Before the age of five is the most important time in a person’s life to learn key ways to be successful contributors to society. Most Ugandan soccer players begin football tutoring at average age 15 , which is a difficult age to teach . This culminates to the adult age and they claim to know it all and not coachable . This has seriously hindered the Ugandan player as compared to other African players.

Doing extra

This falls under work ethic and passion. Where does your job start and end? Knowing how much of a difference a little extra makes to change people’s perception of you.
This area eludes the Ugandan player, they don’t want to do anything extra for as long as it has no immediate monetary value. It could be train more , collect training equipment before or after , compliment others during games, make new players comfortable or help others learn things they already know .

Be prepared.
This ties in with work ethic, too. When you spend more time than needed because you’d rather prep for a game than fail because you didn’t prepare. Many time football players show up for training or matches without the required equipment . One time at Maroons in the semi finals of Uganda cup in Buikwe against Bunamwaya now Vipers , a key player packed his bag with one boot and left the other in Luzira three hours away !. The key here is to prepare mentally , physical and emotionally. Think about what is ahead in detail could be a key in success.
If the players tried a little and the clubs improved on the quality of business they engage in , there is a high chance of creating better players thus better business.

The Author is a CAF B License coach who has coached sides like Maroons, Ntamityobora and Onduparaka FC. He holds a Bachelors of Commerce in Accounting and Masters in Public Administration

Check Asaph Mwebaze on YouTube here

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