THE CECAFA senior soccer tournament which kicked off last weekend in Uganda failed to attract size-able audience despite its surprising results and the exhibition of new but talented faces.
Though it seems to lose audience compared to the time when the likes of Joe Kadenge, Polly Ouma, James Siang’a or Kitwana Manara were the tournament’s big names, the Challenge Cup remains the oldest tournament on the continent that needs a serious boost and commercialisation to mak e it cope with the present situation.
Since its inception in 1926 as the Gossage Cup, CECAFA Challenge Cup has been a platform of East African great footballers. Nonetheless, nine decades on and member countries have no or little to be proud of.
It undeniably does so little to inspire football growth in the region.
Today, when the football face is dominated by global big leagues and their stars, the East Africans have been among the victims, something that has led them to ignore their local league and big regional tournaments organized by CECAFA.
We understand the challenges of courting sponsors, but should we sit and wallow in self-pity? It is a high time Cecafa revamped to challenge the global football threat.
The region has been lagging behind other continental football regions, while hardly being represented in the Africa Cup of Nations and Wor ld Cup finals. It is all down to the players’ lack of experience.
There is a big pool of talented players in the region, but they will only blossom if they get the required experience.
If countries that participate in the senior versions also filed youth teams, we would surely give our youngsters a chance to grow.
By the time they reach the senior team level, they would be used to seeing and playing against foreign opponents.
There are many things needed to turn CECAFA into a serious highly effective football organ, but to the utmost one is leadership.
We need a management with business acumen capable of making it attract sponsors and development stak eholders like those who have made the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A or English Premier League (EPL) most watched leagues.
Let’s refrain from putting the proverbial eggs in one bask et.