In the spheres of football, an agent can be termed as a representative or an intermediary who handles the interests of a player or multiple players. An agent’s core responsibilities include: Negotiating contracts to achieve the best possible outcome for their clients as well as taking the full responsibility of improving his client’s welfare.
In this modern era, football as a sport has walked up to super agents such as; Portugal’s Gorge Mendes, 53, whose clients include Cristiano Ronaldo, 34, currently at Juventus and former Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.
Just like Mendes, in the last eleven years, there’s nothing that has been so dear to Geoffrey Kayemba as being a football agent locally here in Uganda.
Popularly known as Ssolo, Kayemba is the man behind Cranes striker Muhammad Shaban’s move from KCCA in 2018–19 season to Morocco’s Raja Casablanca and Joseph ‘Benson’ Ochaya currently showcasing his defensive skills in Congolese side TP Mazembe.
“I started from scratch,” starts Kayemba as we slop to Jevine Hotel, few meters from Rubaga Miracle Centre Cathedral in Kampala.
“I had no clue on how football agents operate but somehow I managed to walk the talk,” adds a soft-spoken Kayemba who started as a practising football agent in 2008 before he got licensed by the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) under Moses Magogo in 2016.
“I looked at football as a source of money and indeed it is. Before, I used to be an ardent football fan, attending games as well as watching on TVs,” he says.
Growing up as kid, Kayemba, 35, never envisioned himself as a football agent primarily but one thing is certain, he used to be an ardent SC Villa fan.
By the time the late Patrick Kawooya’s side Villa currently under Mr William Nkemba came to Masaka Recreation, Kayemba was part of the hundreds that came from Kiryamenvu village, Bukomansmbi District to watch them.
“I used to admire Majid Musisi before his death in 2005. He was my best player (May his soul rest in eternal peace) during his playing days,” he recalls.
Kayemba was born in August 1983 to Mrs Resty Nabumpenje and Francis Jjuuko of Kiryamenvu village in Bukomansimbi District.
He studied at St Bruno Sserunkuma Primary School, St Charles Lwanga, Masaka SS, Kiryamenvu SS, St Bernard’s College, Kiswera and Happy Hours SS, Bwaise, Kampala before attaining a Certificate in Business Administration at Ndejje University in 2016.
In 2009, Kayemba narrates that he formed Triple Stars Soccer Academy with the likes of Paul Nkata, Isaac Mukasa and Fred Lubega and Hakim Magumba as a way of starting a serous project that would soon become a hub of talented footballers.
“We wanted to tap young talents starting from villages. We recruited players; Francis Oraki, Martin Opoloti currently in Botswana and we used to train at Mengo Secondary School,” he recollects before his phone momentarily rings.
“I learnt so many things from Nkata. He was very resourceful and ever ready to help me learn until when we landed Chrizestom Ntambi deal but due to sentimental reasons l won’t share the amount of money,” he adds.
Ntambi, is currently in Ethiopian Coffee Sport Club.
But before, Kayemba says in 2008 he had sold Ntambi shortly in Express and later striked another lucrative deal that saw midfield general Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito going in Vietnamese football club Saigon FC based in Ho Chi Minh City.
Although, he knew nothing about Vietnam back then, Kayemba narrates that through his companion, Ibra Buwembo whom he termed as his ‘guardian angel’ for connecting him to teams that later believed in his clients.
“Towards the end of 2009, SC Villa needed players. But instead of selling to them, teams like SC Vipers and Express came with fat deals and later we sold to them Godfrey Walusimbi and Ntambi respectively,” he reminisces.
Much as he had got connections outside the country Kayemba says he kept on learning from Proline FC’s director Mujib Kasule whom he consults whenever the need be.
“The experience was new like I’ve told you but because I am ever confident and very knowledgeable when it comes to business, I’ve been able to get the best out of my clients,” Kayemba also the manager of Set Light Studios added.
Away from Kasule, Kayemba shares that doing rigorous research everyday as well as meeting new people in sports industry have all worked miracles for him.
“The day you decide to be any player’s agent is the day you start expanding your network. People expect you to be trustworthy and hardworking to ensure that your clients gets the most out from their talents,” Kayemba, who’s currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Public Relations Management at Ndejje University shares.
However, not all that glitters in his deals is gold. Many times, Kayemba has faced impediments as he negotiates the player’s deals and most of time he has been disappointed by delays in processing the player’s work permit and football Visas.
He cites that some of his clients too lacked the basics demanded by teams especially in Europe.
“I think the problem is general. Most of Ugandan players lack footballing skills because many had no chance to start playing football in academies. Others lack self-confidence and communication skills which has heavily affected them,” he says.
“Some players go wild and negotiate deals with teams by themselves. I think it’s unprofessional,” he said.
The few years Kayemba has negotiated deals for players abroad has opened up his eyes intently and according to him, Ugandan teams pay less salary to players.
“I know teams that don’t even bother to feed players regularly. But why? Ugandan football! It’s unethical to see players spending months in your team without earning yet they are playing for you,” he says.
As someone who normally communicates with professional coaches and agents abroad, Kayemba advises that Ugandan players should be hungry to improve on their performance as more players are still needed by European teams.
“The day you become a professional footballer, people start to expect a lot from you. Being focused and knowing what you want as well as being a good listener all help you become a desired player,” he asserts.
Do you have a story in your community or an opinion to share with us: Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org