OPINION: Gov’t should urgently review the issue of football players who missed exams

Call the parents of the involved children and forge a way forward so that next time this happens, there's a sort of programme to support national team players and by this our players won't lose out on education


By Moses Ssali (Bebe Cool)

Really big disappointment with the Uganda government and the Ministry of Education and Sports in particular on how they have handled the issue of missing Senior Four (S4) final exams by the young talented football players who have been/are on continental duty with the U-20 and U-17 Uganda National teams.


It’s unfortunate that this government has never had plans to support each and every educated person by giving them a job after their tertiary education. So I believe the youths who push thier talents to turn them into a lifetime career/self-employment would be seen as an advantage, hence supported at all costs.

Ten years ago, my son (who represented Uganda at the just concluded U-20 continental championship), my wife and I sat down and agreed that he (my boy, Alpha) would be a football player.

As parents, we agreed to support him in his football journey.

And the journey begun at Proline Football Club with coach Mujib Kasule, and sometimes supported by Edgar Watson at Edgar’s Football Academy.

We then saw that the biggest problem of our Ugandan players was to drop out of school for soccer. Therefore, we designed a programme for the boy that his education was to support his talent.
He would be involved in both co-currently.

Bebe Cool’s son Alpha Thierry Ssali who was part of the Uganda Under 20 team that finished second in the 2021 Total AFCON U-20 in Mauritania, is among those that chose to represent the country over sitting for their Uganda Certificate of Education (UCE) Examinations|Courtesy Photo.

We also noticed that most footballers come from poor families hence they drop out of school to focus on the little pay they earn to sustain their families, yet football careers end by 38 years for most players.

Football in Uganda collects so many youths mainly those who can’t go to school and also many who drop out.
I would have expected government to by now have found a way to work with these young people and find a way to support their education programs without interfering with their blossoming sporting careers, to see that they achieve a required level of education that can sustain them after their careers and also help them know how to invest the little money they make during thier careers.

Parents struggle to pay school fees for these kids, the kids’ dreams are to be professional players, to represent their country and win for their clubs, this making their nation’s pround.

How could you have thought they could choose exams over representing their flag?

And after representing their flag, can’t their flag (country) support them by organising special exams so that their parents don’t pay an extra year of fees. And ofcourse the time wasted.

This will happen over and over again in netball, cricket, athletics, basketball and many other sports.
I therefore wish to express my disappointment and disamy that my son Alpha Thierry Ssali and other boys (7 altogether) who represented Uganda will not be sitting their final S.4 exams.
To say I’m hugely disappointed is an understatement.

At least four players that include Ivan Irinimbabazi (Royal Giants High School), Oscar Mawa (Gombe High School), Mutyaba Travis (St. Mary’s SS Kitende) and Elvis Mwanje also skipped the ongoing UCE examinations. The four are part of the Uganda Cubs team which had travelled to Morocco to represent Uganda at the 2021Under 17Africa Cup of Nations. And un fortunately, CAF has since cancelled the tournament due to Covid-19 restrictions.

I call upon the Minister of Education to review this issue urgently.
Call the parents of the involved children and forge a way forward so that next time this happens, there’s a sort of programme to support national team players and by this our players won’t lose out on education.

For God and My Country.

The author is a concerned parent and also a father to one of the players who have not written their final exams because of conflicting loyalties.