I JUBILATED along with the rest of you the other week as the Uganda Cranes thrashed Togo into bits, but this is not about soccer.
During the game, I kept noting an exciting aspect of the game – the coordination of the team members that kept leading to the desired result in the opponent’s goal net.
It was beautiful to watch, especially for those of us who recall the days long ago when we (not the Uganda Cranes, I must clarify) played what I will call ‘village soccer’. In ‘village soccer’ we generally split the field into two with no regard for numbers, so it was possible to have teams of about twenty people per side.
As such, there was no allocation of roles and responsibilities besides that of the goal-keeper – and even that position could undergo rotation during the game if the team generally felt the need.
Of course, we had no team managers and therefore no game plan.
One specific play was called “Diimula” – where one person on one end of the pitch (or field) kicked the ball into the air as far as possible in the direction of the opponent’s goal. The other side, when they got the ball, would kick it back in the same way.
Presumably the person kicking the ball had hope in his (we were mostly males) mind that somehow it would end up going through the goal posts.
Because we generally had no game plan, wherever the ball landed, the entire team would converge around it and try to make it go towards the goal posts. The opposing team, meanwhile, would also converge at the very same point in order to try to stop the attacking team, while at the same time trying to get the ball to the other goal posts.
It was always messy, and you almost had no choice but to engage in “engwarra” (rough tackling that involved tripping up your opponent) because of the size of the melee.
As we became more organised people began to emerge as team managers and coaches, but I remember hearing a high level (maybe even national, but don’t quote me) player complaining that their Coach did not give them guidance:
“This man just shouts at us things like, ‘Play harder!’ Yoongera mu amaanyi!’ But HOW are we supposed to play harder or kwoongera mu amaanyi?!”
As I said, this is not about soccer.
I only recalled all of this during a couple of discussions this week of a political and economic nature in which it occurred to me that some people were engaged in intellectual ‘diimula’.
In fact, I laughed to myself, there are issues that crop up like the ball dropping on one side of the field and attracting a throng of rather uncoordinated mental activity, thoughts entangled in a muddy mess and erupting in non-stop verbal “engwarra”.
Be it floods in the city or the supply of hoes, one feels that the discussion would have as smooth a flow as a Uganda Cranes game if one’s thoughts are guided by a thought coach or manager who shows you how to guide them from one idea to the next until the point goes through the goal posts.
It doesn’t work for only discussions and arguments; reading a blog post by my brother Paul the other day about City floods and the planning of our infrastructure, I had to share it with a City manager and point him to a small pile of garbage accumulated by the side of the newly constructed Kintu Road, near a mini-slum in my neighbourhood.
That pile of garbage, I pointed out, was bound to end up in the drainage trench and would eventually be part-cause of flooding one day, which would cause part of the road surface to be eroded, but also more likely to drown the slum-residents who had dumped the garbage by the roadside.
Constructing the tarmac road, therefore, needed to go along with a provision for a garbage collection spot in the neighbourhood, and sensitisation of the residents so they carry their garbage just fifty metres to the collection centre, which should have a truck parking provision for the garbage collection trucks assigned.
Instead, it’s messy – like the spot where the ball lands after a shot of “diimula”.