Laws of the game: Worry for Ugandan football.

Football has 17 laws of the game but referees are allowed to add an unwritten 18th law that requires them to use common sense especially in grassroots football.

Law 1 covers the field of play
Law 2 covers the ball
Law 3 covers the players
Law 4 covers the players’ equipment
Law 5 covers the referee
Law 6 covers the other match officials
Law 7 covers the duration of the match
Law 8 covers the start and restart of play
Law 9 covers the ball in and out of play
Law 10 covers determining the outcome of the match
Law 11 covers offside
Law 12 covers fouls and misconduct
Law 13 covers free kicks
Law 14 covers the penalty kick
Law 15 covers the throw-in
Law 16 covers the goal kick
Law 17 covers the corner kick

The Laws of the game: Worry for Ugandan Football Podcast.

These laws are formulated and amended by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

They usually do this after research from major tournaments.

If you look at the history of law changes, they originate from something observed at a major FIFA tournament.

One of the biggest law changes came in 1992 when goalkeepers were no longer allowed to handle a ball passed intentionally by a teammate using the foot. They can handle the ball if it’s passed by a teammate using any body part from the knee and above.


The football clubs that plan player development (not in Uganda) worked out how a goalkeeper would be more involved in the game.

They started training young goalkeepers how to be comfortable with the ball at their feet because, before that, goalkeepers mainly used their hands and only used their feet to kick.

They embraced the new change and greatly worked on goalkeepers being able to use their feet to receive the ball, pass the ball short, medium or long and to dribble.

Ball-playing goalkeepers are now common but not all of them, some of the goalkeepers in clubs that weren’t playing the ball out from the back didn’t work on goalkeepers having neat footwork to move the ball.

Those goal keepers are in their 30’s and about to retire.

Football coaches researched that a team stands a greater chance of keeping and recycling possession if the goalkeeper can be involved in play or play out from the back as it’s known these days.

Of course, it has risks (Ugandans hate risks) because sometimes a back pass is under-hit or the goalkeeper messes up while passing the ball which usually results in an attempt on goal.

Playing out from the back was popularized by Pep Guardiola at FC Barcelona between 2008-2012.

That tactic has since spread out to the rest of the world but not in Uganda because we can’t apply it properly.

Every time there’s a major FIFA tournament, a technical study group (TSG) is formulated by FIFA to analyze new trends in football.

Since the 2010 FIFA World cup, the number of passes made by a goalkeeper in open play have increased greatly to a point that right from the U17 FIFA world cup (both men and women), goalkeepers are almost averaging 30 passes made per game.


When football scouts are sent to watch potential signings, they have a profile for each position.

Goalkeepers in the modern era MUST be comfortable with the ball at their feet especially in open play.

Worry for goalkeepers in Uganda hoping to be scouted.

Watch a game in Uganda at any level, you’ll struggle to find a team that is comfortable building up the ball from the back.

Most goalkeepers aren’t comfortable with the ball at their feet in open play. Ugandans hate risks (especially in football) it’s understandable with competitive football that relies on results but development tournaments are filled with coaches and players scared of building up from the back just in case they make a mistake.

At the 2019 AFCON U-17 tournament, Uganda Cubs (men’s U-17 national team) struggled to build up from the back which resulted in possession being sacrificed easily on many occasions.

An underage team not having players comfortable with building up from the back is a sign that work has to be done in the junior league because that’s where the majority of coaching happens.

The other worry is that because most goalkeepers struggle with the ball at their feet in open play, it affects the coach’s ability to use certain tactics.

As Uganda cubs desperately needed one extra goal to beat Nigeria and qualify for the 2019 FIFA U-17 world cup.

Uganda cubs had to rely on taking long goal kicks that resulted in a frequent loss of possession.

More worries for Ugandan football is that IFAB has amended football laws again.

Starting with the 2019-20 season, goal keepers will be allowed to pass the ball to a player inside the penalty area when restarting play for a goal kick.

As Ugandan football struggles to deal with a law amended 27 years ago, here comes a sliding tackle.

For us to overcome the worry that is caused by amending the football laws of the game;

We need to redefine the meaning of success in under age football.

Is it winning matches and tournaments at all costs or players improving to become better than they were yesterday?

We need to learn how to teach football in the proper way by accepting that mistakes are part of learning.

It’s through this that we shall adopt a no fear of failure approach in football.

This will enable us to develop players that are capable of handling the demands of modern football that include the ability to easily adapt to amendments in the laws of the game.

Disclaimer: The writer doesn’t have anything against taking long kicks or goal kicks in football.

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