Onduparaka FC Chairman Benjamin Nyakuni has provided explanation for the massive player exodus at the club.
Onduparaka FC lost head coach Livingston Mbabazi, captain Gaddafi Wahab, Vitalis Tabu, Geriga Atendele, Ramathan Dudu, Faizul Anini and Abdul Lukwata midway last season.
Currently, they have lost Hassan Muhamood to Police FC while Ezra Bida has reportedly joined Kyetume FC.
In their previous seasons, Onduparaka has also their key players including Shaban Mohammad, Rashid Toha and Gaddafi Gadinho among others.
“We had played well in the first round of last season but the exodus happened during the half season,” Chairman Nyakuni said while appearing on Urban TV.
“These players also have their own ambitions, and when you don’t give them want they want, they have to go, they have families and at times they want to experience other environments elsewhere – But the main challenge has been finances mostly.”
The club finished fifth in their first season in top flight (2016/17) and were competitively fourth in the subsequent seasons.
Last season, the fans looked disinterested and the team looked like they have run out of steam before finishing eighth.
“Players and coach (Livingston Mbabazi) leaving at half season demoralised us so much. It became so hard to assemble a strong side at that moment. It was very tough. Our target was at least to come second but the good thing is that we managed to remain in the league.”
Nyakuni conceded that despite the team being able to compete for higher places, they are still financially weaker than the top sides in the league like KCCA and Vipers.
“Our hands are also tied, we can’t go where we can’t reach. We are competing with the big guns but we can’t afford some things they have done,” he added.
“This has been a leaning process, we are also learning, people are judging us like a club that has been here for 30 years.
“We are our own source of learning. We never had any team in our region to learn from during the time we came in existence, but we have plans and we will get their some time.”
The club, last season, suffered financial constraints and were approached by betting agents to fix games in exchange for funds.
Players and staff have gone months without pay, the same scenarios at most UPL clubs like SC Villa, Kyetume, Busoga United among others.
Football is expensive, clubs have to reveise ways of doing things. You can’t promise players that you will not deliver. Its affecting each and every club.
Onduparaka was vocal in trying to lobby funds from FUFA in terms of Covid19 relief funds.
“Our agenda was that Covid19 affected each and every team,” Nyakuni explained. “We felt that if FUFA is supported by CAF and FIFA, we also needed to be supported.”
“We may not have achieved from that campaign as per now but may be they (FUFA) are thinking for some solutions.”
On overall financial struggles at the club, Nyakuni explained that Onduparaka is geographically disadvantaged in comparison with other UPL Clubs in central region.
“We travel most and it’s a disadvantage, the cost of running an upcountry club is higher than in central region.”
“Football is very expensive and so clubs have revise ways of doing things – You cannot promise the players that you will not deliver, its affecting each and every club. But as clubs, its time we swallow what we can chew. We have to understand our finances.”
In October 2018, Onduparaka initaited a fundraising drive to collect funds for a new club bus.
This, required 10,000 fans to send sh10,000 each as they target Sh100m.
“The Bus project was created by the fans but we later sat together to see where we can provide support,” Nyakuni said.
“We have been providing updates about how much we have collected every month, its now about sh20m. The bus may cost us 160,000 dollars – This is not a project that is going to be finished today or tomorrow. We have to solicit funds from elsewhere and we will need patience.”