Fans’ complacency killing the spirit of SC Villa
- Written by Ben Misagga
SC Villa, the biggest brand in domestic football, also has the most complacent fan base.
It is a trait that dates back to the eighties when sustainability of the club was left to a small group of funders. It was the case in the eras of Patrick Kawooya, Franco Mugabe, and Fred Muwema. Even when I took over the club reins in 2014, I inherited the ‘big man’ syndrome where everything revolved around the club president and a few members of the executive.
Fans preferred to be in the comfort zone as they took a passive role in management. In my time, the system had its measure of successes, especially in regards to quick decision-making, but I later realized it was not sustainable due to the constant intrigue. When the situation was good, everyone claimed credit but when it was bad, it was the club leader.
World over, there are several examples of clubs whose fortunes nosedived when the big man left. Italian side AC Milan quickly comes to mind when Silvio Berlusconi left, and in Africa, TP Mazembe has never been the same since Moise Katumbi lost interest.
Even in Uganda, Express FC is currently going through a bad patch due to Kiryowa Kiwanuka’s busy schedule. In the meantime, I doubt Vipers FC can ever be the same in the absence of Dr Lawrence Mulindwa. All this shows the football world has greatly evolved over the years.
Personally, I had to step aside from the intrigue in 2018 to have outside-looking-in view of club affairs. Unfortunately, little has changed in terms of the mentality of fans, who expect the team to win silverware while their contribution is next to zero.
Today, the biggest burden of sustaining Villa lies in the hands of Omar Ahmed Mandela as the biggest funder. He is a well-respected figure in Ugandan football and his leadership has never been questioned but the lack of fans’ contribution to club matters is negatively affecting the club’s growth.
A few years ago, the club constitution was amended to incorporate the Villa Members Trust (VMT) as the entry-level status for fans as well as the club congress to act as the club parliament. The two organs, coupled with the Villa Management Trust, were aimed to operationalize and streamline the different club structures.
It was a great initiative that would have lifted the burden on an individual in the running of the club. Unfortunately, the devil in the detail was that the initiator, Moses Magogo, had an ulterior motive of taking over the club. He abandoned the cause the moment he realized his goal was not possible.
From then on, the Congress and VMT became mere shells without action. Of the more than 2,000 registered VMT members, only about 50 are active and it gets worse with the congress. Despite these challenges, Mandela has the goodwill and remains committed to the club’s success.
He has poured his own resources into the team and has worked tirelessly to build a strong and cohesive squad. However, we need to recognize that his approach may not be sustainable in the long term if he decides to move on. As Villa, we need to develop a clear strategy for success, and we need to build systems within the club that will help us achieve our goals.
Mandela’s commitment to the club is admirable, but it is clear that more fan involvement is needed to return the club to the glory days. The team will need to work together to develop a clear vision for success and to build the systems and structures necessary to achieve that success. If we can do this, SC Villa may once again become the talk of the town in Ugandan football.
The author is SC Villa first vice president