In Uganda when it comes to football, very few areas can compete with the eastern region. It has provided several stars to the national team, the Uganda Cranes more than any other region. Just to mention a few Geoffrey Massa, Abbey Dhaira, Moses Oloya, Simon Masaba, Dan Wagaluka, all make it to the star line-up.
Though it’s the most popular sport adored by people from all walks of life, the sport is faced with a number of challenges for example inadequate funding, poor facilities, a huge skills gap in terms of trainers among others.
Several youth aspiring to fill the shoes of those national stars, have their dreams washed away due to lack of guidance and mentoring. This is attributed to the shortage of trained coaches in the region and the country in general.
As a result Premier Skills, an initiative between British Council and the English Premier League has stepped in to bridge the gap by training community coaches. For example, the just concluded week long Phase One coach training in Iganga District that ran from 12-16 August 2015.
Iganga District is among the 25 districts in the Eastern Region. The region is comprised of very many tribes such as Basoga, Bagwere, Japhadola, Bagisu, among others. All these tribes practice agriculture as their main economic activity.
Back to the Premier Skills coach training, the sessions were conducted by level one coach educators Haruna Kebba who is also the national coach for the Uganda Sand Cranes (FUFA); Michael Aloya an Airtel Regional Scout Northern Uganda; Stephen Bampiiga, Chairman of Skilz Plus FC- Makindye and Willis Muwanguzi, FUFA Grassroots Coordinator.
41 participants were selected from across the eastern region. The turn up of women in this training was impressive. 60% of the total participants were female. “We have taken this direction because we want to engage more women in the game of football,” notes Stephen Bampiiga.
One of the activities on the closing day was a three hour demonstration of the skills the candidates had learnt during the course. Ball heading, dribbling, defending, attacking and using football as a tool to tackle social challenges. The skills were showcased to 60 children aged between11- 16 years from the Twahhed Youth Academy.
“Since the beginning of the training we have been exposed to different styles of coaching. For example the S.M.I.L tactic, were S-speed, M- maximum participation, I- inclusion and L- learner centeredness. We have also learnt that a coach is supposed to be more of a listener than a talker,” said Bafumba Hilda a participant from Nantumba District.
A message from Peter Brown, Country Director British Council that was delivered by Maxwell Kamanyire, Programme Manager Active Citizens Uganda read, “Our purpose is to connect people in the UK to people in other countries and football is a great way to do that. We are proud of our partnership with the Premier League and delighted to be extending the Premier Skills offering in Uganda through working with local partners like FUFA.”
Lwere Sam, the Eastern Region Executive to the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) and also the chief guest said, “The biggest thanks you can give British Council and FUFA is to go back to your communities and use this skills to empower the youth and other members in the community to address their social challenges.” He also offered the FUFA training facility in Njeru, Jinja District to be used in future trainings at no cost.
Upon completion of the course, each participant was challenged to think about the future and how they intend to use their skills to benefit their communities. Isiko Ayubu, a former semi- professional in the Tanzanian Super League is looking to start up a team for disabled children. In 2014, Isiko was involved in an accident and lost his right arm.
So far he has recruited eight disabled children. Isiko is also utilizing local radio stations to rally people in his area to support his cause.