Up to four players on the national U17 (Cubs) side have missed the ongoing Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) examinations which started on Monday March 1 after flying with the team to Morocco for the cancelled CAF U17 finals. But at the same time, the continental football governing body (CAF) confirmed on Monday, March 8th that they had cancelled the much anticipated tournament.
Despite knowledge of their pending UCE final exams, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) kept a deaf ear and allowed head coach Hamza Lutalo to include the four players in candidate class on his final 25-man squad that flew out on February 27th.
The trip came a day to the national S.4 candidates’ national briefing before the writing of exams commenced the following Monday.
Ivan Irinimbabazi of Royal Giants High School, Oscar Mawa of Gombe High School, Mutyaba Travis of St. Mary’s SS Kitende and Elvis Mwanje are the players who snubbed the promotional exams –an issue that also caught the attention of Ugandan Parliament.
As a double loss to the teenagers, the tournament that was scheduled for March 13-31 in Morocco was cancelled after a CAF emergency committee meeting in Casablanca. This culminated from the fact that North African countries including the hosts (Morocco) tightened measures against the Covid19 pandemic.
The cancellation news arrived at a time when Uganda, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Zambia contingents had already arrived in Morocco far early preparation ahead of kickoff. FUFA is currently in plans to fly back the Cubs squad from Morocco whilst CAF working on the refund to the affected member associations. Uganda Cubs had been pooled in group A along with hosting Morocco, Ivory Coast and Zambia and it was going to be Uganda’s second appearance in the tournament after 2019 in Tanzania.
What lies ahead of the boys’ future?
The boys’ future in education seems to have hit a dead end if not for maximum commitment and encouragement from guardians.
And for worse, they risk losing their academic bursaries at respective schools. According to Uganda Secondary Schools Sports Association (USSSA) regulations, a student that repeats a class after failing to get a promotion mark is illegitimate to take part in the USSSA organized school games.
This regulation was established to encourage academic excellence in talented sports students. It’s from this ground that schools may find no value in extending further scholarships to these talented players who they are not going to use in national competitions. And in the end, the boys’ careers risk stagnation if not kept in school due to lack of guidance, moral and psychological support.
Full Cubs squad that travelled to Morocco
Goalkeepers: Magada Abdu (Busoga United FC JT), Mwebe Henry (Express FC JT), Oyirwoth Humphrey (Express FC JT), Kamya Shamulan (Bright Stars FC JT)
Defenders: Mulema Vincent (Kyetume FC JT), Mungufeni Yabezi (Matete Comprehensive Seed), Ibrahim Juma (KCCA FC SA), Luyima Enock (Volf SA), Nsambu Lloyd Tendo (Metz FC U17, France), Gava Peter (Express FC JT), Madoi Ronald (Wakiso Giants FC JT), Mukisa Simon (KCCA FC SA)
Midfielders: Irinimbabazi Ivan (Bright Stars FC JT),Jemba Abudshakur Ramsey (Isra SA), Alafi Ceasor (Matete Comprehensive Seed), Mutyaba Travis (Vipers SC JT), Ssekajugo Elvis (Bright Stars FC JT), Mutebi Hakim (St Henry’s College-Kitovu), Mwanje Elvis Eddy (KCCA FC SA)
Forwards: Magogo Shafiq (KCCA FC SA), Mubiru Hassan (Express FC JT), Mawa Oscar (KCCA FC SA), Jumbe Fahad (Vipers SC JT), Bugembe Issa (Bright Stars FC JT), Mukiibi Marvin (Wakiso Giants FC).