It is always a must to talk about Uganda professional footballers in the same sentence with North African leagues because they have accommodated and natured quite a number of our players.
Starting with the era of Majid Musisi to Geoffrey Massa and to the Allan Okellos of this current era.
Though the North seem a Safe Haven to Ugandan players, it has turned into a debate on why many players don’t last there, with the main concern on Joel Madondo who parted ways with Wydad Casablanca (Morroco) after joining in January this year, Muhamad Shaban, Milton Kalisa, Khalid Aucho and Taddeo Lwanga to mention but a few following suit.
To former Uganda Cranes captain, Geoffrey Massa who played in Egypt for about three years, says that the short spell faced by most of Ugandan footballers in north Africa is mainly caused by players’ level of discipline, character, conduct, patience, Passion for the game and hardworking.
“As a player who turned pro, you have to make sure that you manage yourself very well so that you look different from nationals found on the team you signed for,” Massa said while appearing on FUFA FM.
“Make sure that you play every game, be disciplined, be with character a good attitude. You have to show passion for what you are doing because you are given a lot of money, so you have to show that you are adding something onto the team.
Patience and obedience is very key because each players’ contract in most of these leagues is revised in each and every transfer window which comes after every 5-6 months and once they find you less useful they will terminate it regardless of the longevity you signed for.”
Despite the above, the Uganda Cranes team coordinator, to a certain extent has also put the short stay of players to the roles played by their agents who he says that they don’t communicate and connect to the team where the player is going, adding that they also have a middle man who report to the team on their behalf.
However, the former Al-Masry striker dismissed the myths many had that players also fail because of racism, the language, weather, modernised facilities and home sickness, he says all these may not matter if the player produces good football and knows what took him there.
“Its not about the language, its about the quality of football you produce on the pitch that has to speak for you, there is discrimination yes, but you can’t be discriminated when you are performing well on the pitch but if you are not performing they can even frustruate you down up to the reserve team,” Massa added.
“Of course they have better facilities than ours, but if a player has been performing well on poor pitches of Uganda, what prevents your from enjoying and performing well when you reach on better pitches. All Players should bear in mind that they are on a job so they have to take it as a job, its not bad to miss home and family and you must know what you want and respect the job.”
Massa who also had spells in South Africa, also advised player to go pro before making 25 years of age and to make friends who matter when they reach those clubs.
“I think a player should go pro before turning 25 because responsibilities will be minimal, many will be with no wives and kids at that point, and when you reach there make sure that you befriend starters on the team first.”
Despite the north being hostile in terms of the period spent by Ugandan players there, it is still home to a big number of players currently which include Allan Kyambade, Martin Kaddu, Allan Okello, Abdu Lumala, Nelson Ssenkatuuka, Emma Okwi among others.