Thursday, June 07, 2007

Uganda Cranes or Uganda Chameleons?

Now that the ‘small’ issue of beating ‘our new biggest sporting rivals’, Nigeria, is done and dusted (what insolence!), we have never had a better time to accord serious attention to something many of us wrongly take to be simply cosmetic – consistent and attractive national football/sports kits. Three or four different football kits in as many home games is disturbing to some fans like me. If there are still any doubts about the abilities and competencies of FUFA’s new management, given the body’s lousy past, inconsistency with kits is not helping to cast them aside. My fears that a kit for Ugandans to be proud of, like Cameroon’s, were not being taken seriously were not laid to rest by the casual manner in which FUFA’s Aldrine Nsusbuga dismissed it as unimportant. While appearing on UBC, he was asked by Jane Kasumba which of the three different replica shirts in the studio that night was part of the official Cranes kits. His answer: ‘it doesn’t matter as long as it has something to do with Uganda on it’. That may be true for the fans but should not apply to the Cranes too.

Replicas of former official kits supplied by Hummel are quite popular simply because they are beautiful. There is the white one with black, yellow and red stripes and impressions of crested cranes (Nsubuga wore this one in the TV programme and in Nigeria ), and the yellow one with black and red bars in its bottom half with ‘ Uganda ’ emblazoned on the chest. These shirts were dumped quite unceremoniously and I have heard some people insinuate that it is because they are a child of Dennis Obua’s FUFA regime. However, judging from the popularity of the Hummel shirts, even with tourists and expatriates, I think they should come back! Their potential for marketing for the Cranes, FUFA and suppliers looks very promising. If there are any obstacles stopping Uganda from accessing those popular designs from anywhere else than Hummel, we should know so that in case there are any financial implications, we deal with them.

The unveiling of a kit in some countries for club and national sides are occasions of pomp and ceremony. I think it would be good for Lawrence Mulindwa and company to unveil the two kits mentioned above as the official ones for the Cranes in the next few weeks while we are still high on beating Nigeria and long before we play Niger. It would be nice to have them before the Lesotho game, but that would probably be asking for too much. We can never accurately quantify the contribution of visuals in marketing anything but we know that they play very important selling and identity roles. FUFA should stop looking at kits as being just cosmetic and simple ways for referees to tell one side from another. They are quite serious stuff.

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