Football: Uganda making a comeback at the continental level although never qualified for the world cup
NCMP – There are numerous beneficial dynamics in domestic contests as well. As part of a 10-year partnership, Chinese conglomerate StarTimes broadcasts the UPL live on television.
Outside of the traditional football area of greater Kampala, there is now a resurrection of football in different districts of the nation. Last season, UPL clubs in Arua in the northwestern city of Arua and Jinja in the east fared well, and several of these teams have been fighting for top UPL slots.
BUL FC from Jinja presently leads the UPL standings and won the Stanbic Uganda Cup last season, owing in part to solid management and sponsorship (against Vipers SC).
A lot of teams’ fan bases are developing and energetic, and there are several instances of better ties between supporters and club administration.
Many teams, even those in lower leagues and outside the UPL, are able to establish sponsorship arrangements. The UPL currently has around 40 sponsors involved.
The capital’s KCCA FC recently announced that it would begin floodlit night games in the second part of the UPL season, owing to the backing of the club’s newly signed shirt sponsor, Chinese multinational CHINT Electric Uganda, an energy solutions firm.
In 2022, FUFA launched its own TV station, which broadcasts live games from different championships (women and men; senior to school level), press conferences, and other events.
FUFA, clubs, players, fans, journalists, and commentators all have substantial, imaginative, and engaging social media presence.
There are a number of highly powerful and popular amateur contests, particularly in Kampala, that are generally held over the weekend.
Artificial turf fields have been built, which benefits amateur football clubs, competition organizers, schools, academies, and communities.
Arua Hill SC is constructing a stadium that will be incorporated into a bigger commercial mall complex that will also include office space and hotel amenities.
The club sells plots and houses in Kongolo Sports City to supporters and other members of the public.
In recent years, clubs like Vipers and KCCA received considerable money from player sales, which helped fund club operating expenses and growth projects such as stadium infrastructure renovations.
Finally, football contests at the secondary and university levels are popular among students and spectators, and they get a lot of media coverage.
One could go on and on about the myriad present difficulties in Ugandan football, such as the issue of player welfare, but there is merit in investigating what is driving the game’s resurgence and good trends in Uganda.
How was the turnaround accomplished? As part of a study project investigating the impacts of football commercialization in Uganda and Kenya, I investigated these topics.
Jörg Wiegratz is the photographer. The current national football association president, Moses Magogo (in office since 2013), marked the beginning of FUFA and the sector’s recovery.
This was a protracted process with flaws, restrictions, and failures. However, based on the scenario in late 2022, it was a resounding success.
A key component of this revival was FUFA becoming more open and responsive to external criticism; a strengthened media team; a focus on professionalization of the sector through significant capacity-building (running various training programs for clubs, coaches, sponsors, media, and other professional groups that operate in the sector); a more inclusive sharing of the benefits of these programs across regions; and an expanded set of well-organized competitions (including beach sand volleyball).
This tendency is also seen in the strengthening of media/PR units in many teams (which was expedited during the COVID-19 lockdown months when clubs needed to find a method to communicate and keep in touch with supporters at home, such as via the debut of club TV).
Social media handlers are now the norm, and the work of these dedicated, skilled, and enthusiastic young handlers ensures that teams provide an up-to-date, detailed, and slick mix of texts, pictures, and videos about the latest happenings in their clubs on various platforms ranging from Tik Tok to Twitter.
Accounting, marketing, fan relations, talent recruiting and development, and player transfers are some of the other aspects of club operations that have been professionalized.
As one marketing specialist described it, there is “greater balance and better cohabitation” between the EPL and the UPL, as well as Ugandan football in general. Dedicated fans increasingly choose to attend live matches than watch EPL games on TV.
There is a strong and growing sense of fan culture (in terms of identification, pride, rituals, and off-the-field activities), self-organization, and desired participation with club management.
Fans are apparently buying and wearing their local club jerseys more often as a result of the “wear your local jersey” push and other promotional efforts.
For example, one club provides free admission to home games this season to all undergraduate university students who wear the club’s 2022/23 shirt, whilst another club provides free admission to women and students.
Fans also spend more money on products. There is also a growing need for thorough information, statistics, data, and updates that are conveniently available.
The pursuit, interest in, and use of statistics and data (by fans, coaches, commentators, journalists, scouts, and agents) is a key characteristic of the sector’s growth.
This is partly due to the effect of betting, which is dependent on individuals having access to statistics.
Jörg Wiegratz is the photographer. Love and passion for the game; pride in one’s city, region, country, and culture; professional opportunities, jobs, business, incomes, and profits; uniting communities and strengthening identities; showcasing, supporting, and celebrating talent; inspiring youth through being a role model in one’s home community; and putting all regions on the map of national attention.
Finally, numerous sponsors are entering or renewing their relationships with the football industry. Sponsors range in size and include businesses from all economic sectors.
Major sponsorships from numerous significant corporations are seen as critical for injecting money, vigor, and confidence into the game and the country’s future trajectory of football.
In terms of sponsorship, there is no over-reliance on betting companies.
Given excellent advances in Tanzania, Rwanda, and Burundi, Uganda is not an anomaly in the area. Second, not just football but the whole sports industry in Uganda is on the rise, including netball, basketball, rugby, boxing, and athletics.
Next Media just established NBS Sport, a 24-hour sports channel devoted to broadcasting local sports, including live-action and chat programs. According to Joseph Kigozi, Deputy Group CEO of Next Media and General Manager of NBS Sport, “We have put up a platform where Ugandan sport can leave the back pages and little bits of daily programming…
Sports may provide money to all stakeholders… We are excited to collaborate with everyone involved to make this a success.” The platforms are already available, and work on increasing and stabilizing local sports content supply is well underway.