By Abdu Dilshan Wasike
Every player goes for professional football with a reputation but not every player can live up to that reputation. Some improve & adapt to the demands, others never make an impact & for some, it doesn’t work at all.
Many of our players are not given the right nurturing. For many, all they think of is a sign-on fee and that’s it. But clubs, especially the ones in North Africa, will give you half the sign-on fee and thereafter monitor your performance, dedication, commitment and enthusiasm.
Those teams will adore a player (mostly a midfielder or striker) but he must be extremely special. Because the patience-span for players in those fanciful positions is limited in the mindsets of mostly Arabs.
We also don’t do well in preparing players for professional football. Our academies are lacking and our clubs generally don’t do a fine job of telling young players the dos and don’ts in semi or professional football. We need to build the house from the bottom-up.
And also most Ugandan footballers want to succeed the easy way without encountering hardship. Like every job, you have to give your best. Be early for practice, listen, be responsive, work harder and do everything to win over your bosses.
Here in Uganda, we prepare our footballers on fitness and what to expect on the field of play. What we don’t do is schooling our players in the technical and mental aspect of the game. It explains why we have an abnormal turnover of players.
The likes of Ssekagya & Onyango; two players who overcome ‘a million & one challenges’ to succeed at the highest level. The qualities Onyango & Ssekagya possess were born in them. Onyango struggled in Ethiopia & South Africa but at no point did he give up. He knew what he wanted.
The issues faced by some players when they first go for professional football is maybe a reason why ‘loan to buys’ is becoming increasingly popular. With a ‘loan to buy,’ the team can decide whether the player will fit into that particular league.
As the modern game continues to evolve, players are often gifted a ever shorter transitional phase to adapt to life. Fans and owners often expect instantaneous results, arguably adding to the pressure on fresh talent emerging into those Leagues.
Performances on the pitch can be marred by by external factors, for instance if a player is struggling to adapt to the cultural differences of a country or doesn’t yet speak the language.
Adapting to those foreign Leagues is no easy feat, with the whole world watching, proving that the integration is as much a psychological transition, as it is physical.
But undergoing that paradigm shift will take the efforts of clubs, academies, the federation and, most importantly, the ability of players and their agents to acknowledge that there is a salient mentality challenge that must be addressed.
The writer is the Head of Communications, SC Vipers.