By Andrew Mwenda and Eriasa Mukiibi
Coach Williamson wanted me to lie – Obua
Moments after the Uganda versus Kenya match, which ended in a goalless draw and saw Uganda fail to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, The Independent’s Andrew Mwenda and Eriasa Mukiibi Sserunjogi interviewed Cranes top player, David Obua, who was banished from the Cranes camp on the eve of the decisive encounter in his room at the Kampala Serena Hotel.
What really happened in the camp?
When they told us Mzee (referring to President Yoweri Museveni) was coming to visit us in the camp, I call him Mzee, I asked Fufa President (Lawrence) Mulindwa whether I could ask him (Museveni) a few questions. Mulindwa said I couldn’t. So I told the captain (Ibrahim Sekaggya) that there was no reason for me to attend the meeting and I was gonna go back to the hotel and relax my muscle. I didn’t want to attend and just be lectured to without having a chance to speak what was on mind.
What was on your mind?
There are a number of issues I wanted to raise to Mzee. One of them is about our bonus system, if there is such a thing. The bonuses aren’t streamlined. You cannot know how much everyone is supposed to get. I wanted to talk about why football isn’t taken seriously in this country. For example, we have no youth development programme and no system to cater for those who retire. The other question I wanted to ask Mzee is why this money wasn’t coming before. Why now? Are there guarantees that it will now be consistent?
What do you mean by before, do you mean when your father was Fufa president?
Well, then, before then and after. We have seen great players who have carried the national flag and made Uganda proud but have been neglected by Fufa and other football administrators. When players get injured or when they are struggling to feed their families, where is Fufa and everybody? That is why we need defined bonuses and other support systems so that we know that players won’t live a miserable life when they stop wearing the national jersey.
But some people say this was a bad time to raise these issues because they would unsettle the team
I don’t think this was necessarily a bad time. When then is the right time? We have been raising these issues all the time but we never see any actions. Instead, Fufa officials will just pick on players who are honest and speak their mind. If you think about it, why don’t players like Posnet Omony and Timothy Batabaire play for the Cranes anymore? They would speak their mind and somehow they were pushed out of the national team. They took longer to push me out because they feared it would cause them problems. Mulindwa wants players he can patronise and they don’t speak back to him. For me I am honest and I speak my mind. That is why they forced me out of the camp.
So what happened before you were kicked out of the camp?
I was in my hotel and (head coach) Bobby (Williamson) came and told me Mulindwa had instructed him to throw me out of the camp. I said “You are kidding me, this is the most important match of my life”. I told him he was making a big mistake. I later told him I would leave the camp but he had stabbed me in the back.
We have been told you left the team because the coach had said you would start on the bench due to your injury
That is what I have read in the papers and it is very disappointing. In fact it is Bobby who told me that I should say I was frustrated by my injury and stormed out of the camp. I told him I wouldn’t lie because I am straight forward. But what you should know is that the coach had told us he would select the team at 9am on Saturday (match day) after taking me through a fitness test. You know that I was thrown out on Friday and therefore this can only be a lie. I had called my physio back in Scotland and he had told me there was no tear (in the muscle) and I just needed to relax the muscle a bit. So all this was just made up.
Which players do you say haven’t been cared for?
There is Andrew Fimbo (Mukasa). He scored 45 goals in one league season and everyone was very excited about him. He was an important player for the Cranes. But when he was going through problems, where was Fufa? I know some people helped him; people like Umar Mandela and Agga Ssekalaala, but they were doing it as individuals. Where was Fufa? Where is Fufa when players need it? Where is the policy on such cases? You know about several other players who are in a bad condition now but Fufa doesn’t care about them. All they care about are gate collections. Ask them how much they have collected now and how much they will give players who have given so much for the national team. And here I am talking about the wellbeing of all of us athletes, not only footballers. When (Dorcas) Inzikuru has problems, who is there for her?
So had you discussed these issues with other players in the camp?
Not as such. You know players are afraid because they are intimidated. For me I can speak out because I am honest and I like to speak my mind. But do you expect local-based players like Walusimbi to speak out? They are so intimidated.
Why do you think we failed to win today?
I don’t know. You see the team played so well, we created chances but the ball just didn’t get into the net. It happens.
Do you see yourself playing for the Cranes again?
I don’t know. I have to think about it.
Are you willing to reconcile with Mulindwa?
I have no problem with nobody. You know when my father died Mulindwa took my brother to his school (St. Mary’s Kitende Secondary School). He is a good person. I have no problem with him but I just disagree with how he is managing football.
You seem to suggest there are serious problems with the management of football in this country
Yes that is true. And the problem goes way back. When my father was Fufa president and I was Cranes captain, we had an away match and my father had to fly back and leave us there. After the game I asked one gentleman, I won’t name names; for the players’ bonuses and he told me my father had flown away without giving him the money. Moments later I was on the phone with my father, “You have to be kidding me; you just flew away without leaving the players’ bonuses”. He told me he had left the money with the official who had claimed they didn’t give him the money. So I asked my father to wait for us at the airport and clarify the matter. On jumping off the plane, there was my father and he asked this gentleman, “Didn’t I leave you with the player’s bonuses?’ The man was like, “ah, ah, you gave it to me president”. This happened in the full view of everyone. This gentleman is still in football management. Their objective is only to take money. But I think there are some genuine football administrators like (SC Villa boss Fred) Muwema. He is a lawyer and principled. Football and sports in general needs such people.