There was a need to heighten expectations when FUFA introduced the Juniors League to the StarTimes UPL clubs in 2016.
First, it was a new concept for the StarTimes UPL clubs to accept and adapt to at the same time.
Then, there was that moment all teams did not want to take responsibility for the new team’s activities.
Then, there was that moment when questions regarding who was to support the teams came up. But at last, the league lived and had a lot of contributions to the development of many players.
As the tide changes swiftly, with the introduction of the Reserve League for the StarTimes UPL clubs, at least not everything that came along with the development project will be left at the Regional level.
FUFA Youth Football development manager, Bashir Mutyaba believes the project was a success and will live on longer than it lasted at the hands of the elite clubs. It was a success, he says,
“The project was a success based on the objectives that were set to be achieved at the initiation through to where we are.”
To this, the shared with The Touchline Sports some of the achievements that the project he foresaw from the start had.
The Juniors League aided with Club licensing
The FUFA Juniors League aided the implementation of the club Licensing program to UPL teams. As you are aware FIFA introduced club licensing as a tool of developing clubs and football in clubs with Youth football a key addition. According to club licensing requirements, for each club to participate in StarTims UPL had to create a youth team to nurture and develop players who will be promoted to the senior team. Therefore, creating FJL to provide competition for the created youth teams.
Promoted regular training for young players
FJL helped to promote regular training and competition for youth teams and players under club structure thus fostering player development. This was not of the setting before and players were organized under settings, most of which did not meet the required standards for U17 players.
Enhancing Development high standard league for young players
The FUFA Juniors League enhanced the development of a high standard Junior league for talented players identified in other youth competitions that run for a short period, for example, the Airtel Rising stars, Copa Coca Cola schools cup, USSSA U16 tournament, Youth camps, and galas thereby fully developing the players’ potential and giving them enough playing time.
Facilitated an extensive scouting program
FUFA Juniors League facilitated the development of an effective extensive scouting and talent identification program in all the 8 regions irrespective of whether there is a UPL senior club.
Aided player development and growth
The project aided player promotion and retention by channeling the selected players to both the UPL and the 2nd division clubs. Some of the players promoted from Juniors League include;
- Willa Paul (RB)-2015 Season: Kampala Junior Team
- Mustafa Kizza (LB)-2015/16 Season (KCCA FC SA)
- Kizito Gavin Mugweri (CB)-2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons URA FC, SC Villa JT, and Vipers SC JT respectively.
- Wasswa Godfrey. (CB) 2015/16 season-Vipers SC JT
- Byaruhanga Bobosi (DM): (Vipers SC JT), 2016/17, 2017/18, and 2018/19 seasons.
- Mugulusi Isma (W/F): Busoga United FC JT. 2017/18, 2018/19 2019/20 seasons.
- Watambala Abdul Karim (AM) 2015/16 season: Vipers SC JT
- Mukwala Steven (F) 2015 the maiden edition: Edgars Youth Program.
- Allan Okello (AM): FJL MVP 205/16 Season-KCCA FC SA
- Ochan Derrick: (GK) 2015/16 season-Vipers SC JT
- Kayondo Abdul Aziz: (LB) 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons
- Anaku Sadat: 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 (All-Time FJL Top scorer 86-Goals)
- Obuya Pius (AM) 2015/16-Maroons FC JT
- Semakula Kenneth (CB/DM) 2018/19-Busoga United FC JT.
- Frank Tumwesigye (AM)-2015, KJT, 2015/16- Vipers SC JT
- Mutanda Bashir (F) 2015/16 Vipers SC JT
- Ssekajja Davis (DM) 2017/18, 2018/19. Bright Stars FC JT.
- Abdallah Salim 2016/17-18-19 (SC Villa)
- Ssekyanzi Faizal 2015-St Marys Nabweru.
- Achai Herbert: 2015/16-KCCA FC SA
- Poloto Julius: 2015/16 (KCCA FC SA)
- Musa Ramathan: (DF) (2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19) KCCA FC SA
- Tezikya Lawrence (F) (Busoga United FC JT) 2017/18 and 2018/19 season
- Tibita Hamis:2015/16-BUL FC JT
- Simon Oketch (AM)-2017/18 and 2018/19-BUL FC JT
- Mato Rogers- 2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 season, Lweza Orange brigades, Proline SA and Maroons FC JT respectively
- Magambo Peter- 2015/16-KCCA FC SA
- Okao Jacob- 2015/16-Maroons FC JT
- Sserwadda Steven-2015/16- KCCA FC SA
- Kafumbe Joseph-2018/19- KCCA FC SA
- Kakooza Derrick-2016/17, 2017/18 and 2018/19 Police Armless Brigades
Project Reduced on age cheating in Ugandan football
The Juniors League project enhanced the control of age cheating by capturing data of young players at an early age. The league required that players age be determined by the MRI scans thereby reducing the gap for player-related information and as well bringing about a linkage from youth to elite football.
Monitoring and follow up on players
The Juniors League helped in promoting the monitoring and follow up of players by creating a database for all the players and youth coaches.
Created a ready pool of players for scouting
FJL facilitated the creation of a pool from which players can be scouted for different projects such as national team activities. For example, the players who helped Uganda qualify for the AFCON U17 2019 were scouted from the Juniors League.
The League increased the number of young players at a structural level
The Project also helped to increase the number of young players playing standardized and well-organized football under club structure which was not the case before.
Player enhanced the development of a football pyramid.
The project enhanced the development of a player pathway and a football pyramid with a solid base thus closing the transitional gap between grassroots/school competition and elite football.
Provided training ground for young referees
The Juniors League project enhanced the development of young referees by providing them with an opportunity to practice and develop gradually.
This article was compiled with the help of the FUFA Youth Football development manager, Bashir Mutyaba.