By Francis Ngira
Apart from not inching closer to qualifying or hosting the FIFA world cup since the show piece was first held in Uruguay (1930), no East African country has won the Africa Nations Cup in its 54 years of existence.
Sometimes during the 2014 FIFA world cup in Brazil, Nakumatt Holdings Managing director Mr. Atul Shah shared his dream of seeing East African cities of Bujumbura, Nairobi, Kigali and Kampala bidding and successfuly hosting the 2030 FIFA world cup, 2031 ICC Cricket world cup, and the 2032 Olympic games.
Three world major sporting activities in three years on the EastAfrican soil would be heaven on earth for our economies if you think of the economic impact due to the influx of millions in tourists and their expenditures. I however don’t see us get organised that fast to be ready in the next 15 years. I know I am being unacceptably mean to this great ambition but sorry Mr. Shah, not with this leadership.
East African F.A bosses and club leaders once elected/appointed, they don’t work towards growing the game but to enrich themselves.
They forget that there’s alot of money to be made genuinely in sports if we work on attracting and maintaining more patners to invest in the game, build modern facilities and upgrade the few existing ones to make them safe and appealing to all, lobby for the abolishment of youth-phobic policies, and any other laws that robs us of the enabling environment for sports tourism to thrive thus hindering the enhancement of social economic and regional integration.
Our leaders have instead perfected the art of making everything be about them and not the players no wonder many of them want to die in office. Over the past two decades, our sports leadership has become synonymous of never ending feuds, supremacy battles, laxity, lack of ambition, and mental succes in Uganda and Kenya between people who were once friends and played the game, silent murmurs in Tanzania, the ego in Ethiopia, and the operational negligence in Rwanda not forgetting the chest thumping in Burundi despite the abundant existence of talent.
The same hands that were once in the struggle to save the game are now being used to strangle the game.
The european soccer power houses are not run by some supernatural beings but people in the same flesh as those who purport to run our game only that they have the interest of players and fans at heart and a rich history of business acumen.
Most East African players are extremely talented but not patient enough, they want quick results and if things don’t work their way they loose hope. Many have turned themselves into victims of self pity, no fighting spirit yet they want to excel.
Afew of those whose football skills have excavated from their once miserable and small parts of their original countries, places so small that no one couldn’t have imagined them on the world football map have ended up swelling instead of growing.
After their pockets are filled with a few millions they turn into demigods who demand to be worshipped instead of using the skills and the privileged life to lift others to another level of consciousness. I am yet to see a player in this region who’ll be as supportive as the west Africans to their fellow brothers.
Nigeria super eagles current coach Stephen Keshi for instance is revered in his country for the spade work in the 90’s that saw many of his Nigerian counterparts turn professional in European clubs. Here some of you want to be ‘the only bean in the githeri’, the one selfish millionaire in a national team dressing room where the most talented locally based player still earns a monthly wage of €200.
East African fans on the other hand do not know how to stick with their own in good and bad times. At the national team level, you are only sure of their support if locally you belong to a club they swore allegiance to.
However, this is not also not guaranteed if you are the first to concede; until you score or equalise, the defeaning silence would make you feel like you are playing in an empty stadium. Very few of our fans know how, when and why to persistently cheer their team on, and when to say thank you to their sportsmen and women.
Just like the old, believable fire place or dinner stories from most of our parents that depicted them all as having been both brilliant in academics and sports, all EastAfrican fans would drive you into the temptation of believing they were or currently are coaches with the least qualified being a holder of a EUFA B licence, but their Technical, Insight and Communication (TIC) on the game is pathetic as it can cannot even win a kindergarten school game. Now, wait until you meet them on social media, ‘Keyboard warlords’ I call them.
They are very good at hurling negative criticisms at the coaches’ selection for any match or tournament and sometimes they shower a player or coach with dozens of insults capable of triggering suicide. You’d think he (the player) is a surgeon who didn’t save a life by negligently leaving a scarpel to block a patient’s main arteries.
I wish I knew where or who some of you work for and what your perfomance is like at the end of every financial year if not close of business.
We shall continue being spectator ions in this reaction, whose end product is first conquering African football and eventually the world’s biggest soccer stage until we rectify the above.
N/B:The author is just a live sports camera operator who sees all these through his lens though without sound.