By David Martin Aliker
A new community based football club has been launched in Gulu. The Troy Buttimer Foundation (TBF).
The focus of The Troy Butimmer Foundation is to identify, tap raw talent and develop the football talents of youngsters in the age bracket below 8 years and below 10 years.
Troy is a youngster aged 7 years plying his talent at a club in Oxford, UK in a club that has already identified and tapped his talents for professional football.
Troy’s Mum (Brenda Clair Butimmer) is originally Ugandan from Gulu and his father (Neville Benjamin Buttimer) a Briton but Troys dream is to support football of youngsters in Gulu that he has been meeting as a child since she started visiting Uganda every Christmas Festive Season.
The Troy Buttimer Foundation is registered in England and is undergoing registration in Uganda.
However, locally the team is already established in Gulu and talent identification has started and will end in February.
The President of Nyamityobora Football Club, Ben Misagga on 2nd January 2019 opined a piece in the New Vision News Paper on the different yardstick of assessing progress in Uganda’s football.
In his piece, Ben argued that if Uganda is making football progress, Uganda should be capable of developing a player able to play in mainstream European leagues.
However, “most players have miserably failed trials for professional stints at European Clubs, partly due to lack of professionalism and cheating age. We all know our average of Cranes (Ugandan National Team) age is in the thirties yet on paper we have one of the youngest squads. The age-cheating habit has derailed our football to the extent that we are result-oriented at the expense of building for the future”.
So why are Ugandan players failing miserably trials for professional football? Why are they resorting to the unprofessional conduct of cheating age in football?
In my opinion, Uganda needs to focus on its national grassroots football structure at an early age to build for the future the game of football.
Just like to ensure we attain quality education up to University, learners start from an early age in nursery education, Uganda needs to focus on skills and provide access and a platform to develop the game at an early age.
This will ensure early identification of talent and its development in time so that, when players are in their teens they are fully developed and aware of their potential and ready for professional football without having to cheat on their age.
Unfortunately, our players today get to realize their talent and full potential when its already late and they are in their late teens or 20s; only then do they begin to prioritize the game as professionals.
This is why they are caught up in the age dilemma and their only choice is to cheat age hoping to get better opportunity to get to the professional league.
Secondly instead of exporting cheap casual labor, Uganda needs to begin looking at football as a business worth a long term investment if it is at all to benefit from its proceeds.
Already individual Ugandans are taking initiatives to start clubs and football academies; however, government needs to come up with strategies that directly support such initiatives.
In Gulu, The Troy Buttimer Foundation will be the local face of football talent identification and promotion at elementary level.
This will not only contribute to the pool of local players for local and national football but also help address unprofessional conducts like cheating age in football by undertaking authentic documentation and profiling of players.
The Author is a Director of The Troy Buttimer Foundation-Uganda Chapter