On Wednesday, Vipers SC petitioned local football governing body Fufa over Onduparaka Football Club captain Muhammad Shaban, who at the ripe old age of 18 is virtually a veteran compared with some of their other acquisitions.
By the end of business today, Vipers had laid to rest any hope of the Arua based minnows Onduparaka not using the goal machine in Shaban when they play their maiden Uganda Cup final against dethroned UPL champions on Saturday, 18th June 2016 at Nakivubo Stadium in Kampala.
As we reported, Fufa Competitions boss Ali Mwebe acknowledged received the Vipers’ protest over Shaban and ruled in Onduparaka’s favour to retain their star player who helped them win promotion to the Uganda Premier League and is leading the scoring charts of the Uganda Cup.
The “employment contract” as signed on 11th June 2015 and submitted for the first time to Fufa along with Vipers protest contravened t regulations – Article 2(21) Minor: A player who has not yet reached the age of 18.
Article 10 of the same regulations stipulates that application for a professional player must be submitted together with a copy of a contract. Fufa says it did not receive any contract for the above player (either a youth agreement for minors) at the time of registration of the same player in your (U-17) side.
The Fufa Secretariat records show that Muhammad Shaban was registered with Onduparaka FC in Fourth division league of Arua District Football Association in 2013/14 season at age of 15 then.
When the club was promoted, the same player featured in the 2014/15 West Nile Regional League and 2015/16 2nd division/FUFA Big League in which Onduparaka FC competed and consequently moved up the ranks to the 1st division/Uganda Premier League.
As usual, Fufa is understandably not investigating their former President Lawrence Mulindwa’s (Vipers owner) underage signings, less than two years after Barcelona was given a 14-month transfer ban for breaching the governing body’s rules on signing minors.
The club believes it’s acted within the rules, and sends Fufa information on player registrations.
Actually top regional clubs like APR, Gor Mahia and Azam have also built extensive networks allowing them to identify and develop young talent. For Vipers, that means bringing the kids to its St. Mary’s Kitende Senior Secondary School to pursue a footballing/academic dream that, statistically, will both probably never be realized, there’s a thin line between exploitation and opportunity.
Actually Vipers (Kitende) has been stockpiling teenage talent overtime – it’s former student players form the core of the current Uganda national team and Under23 sides while the current crop of Muhammad Shaban’s comrades in the Under20 national setup Halidi Luwalira, Alfred Lekku and Frank Zaga Tumwesigye were are lazed into signing binding senior contracts while still minors.
Meanwhile, Kitende has signed or been closely linked with half-a-dozen players who may who shone at the just concluded National COPA COCACOLA championship at Teso College in Soroti district.