Player development is the improvement in the quality of football skills.
It’s supposed to be done between the ages of 6 years through to 16 years.
In Uganda we have very few cases of fully developed complete footballers because we make the mistake of separating football/sports from life.
For someone to become a doctor in Uganda, you study nursery for 3 years where you are taught how to speak, read and write.
In primary school, you are introduced to various subjects and this takes 7 years. Secondary education lasts 6 years split into 4 years of some details then 2 high level years of specific scientific subjects.
At university, you study 5 years of medicine then graduate to become a doctor.
The whole education process takes a total of 21 years!
Compare that to football and you will find that we don’t have the nursery, primary, secondary and university version in football but we want to make it and become professional footballers.
Why then do we give football less attention?
It is because we don’t believe that the process of developing a footballer is as demanding as that of a doctor and other professions.
Next case, when a child is born they go through a process of learning how to sit, crawl, walk, cross the road et cetera until they become independent enough to be able to do most of these things on their own.
The process takes time, mistakes will happen during this process and it’s generally expected by any parent as part of a child’s growth but when it comes to football, we don’t want accord it the same credence we give to other professions.
Professional players in Uganda who didn’t get the same 21 years of study the child who graduated to become a doctor was subjected to are not permitted to make mistakes at any level which is unrealistic.
Footballers who play at the highest levels of the game still have to be remote controlled on how to play during a match.
Decisions are made for them through coaching instructions because their coaches don’t trust them to be able to execute the” basics” of the game.
This is because the players didn’t go through the proper learning curve in football that is equivalent to sitting, crawling, walking, writing, reading and crossing the road.
Thanks to the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) for setting up an U-17 league this year.
They at FUFA have taken the first step in addressing player development and while it will be a long road to walk before change can be seen, it’s undoubtedly the right move.
We at Maroons Football Club decided to groom and develop our Under 17 players in the same manner a mother grooms a child.
The policy is strict as no player above 17 years is permitted to play for the under 17 team.
When they turn 18 years of age, we transition them to the reserve team or loan them to other teams in lower divisions in order to further their development until they are “good enough” to play for the first team.
In essence, we don’t separate football from life. The two are looked at as one.
Players are allowed the freedom to express themselves, learn through making mistakes in training and on the pitch and most importantly encourage them the autonomy to make decisions during matches.
We, the coaches at Maroons FC work tirelessly to ensure that players mature in all four aspects of football; tactically, technically, psychologically and player conditioning.
With these 4 aspects, we believe we can nourish and develop complete professional footballers.