BREAKING FREE

The past 3 months have been the toughest of my entire life, looking back though, I have no regrets…

Warning: Writing this doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the work they have done, in fact am grateful for the lessons I have had to forcefully learn myself first-hand.

I Didn’t know how to put this all on paper and I was indeed a bit worried putting it out or rather scared to write (Speak Up). Saying this has helped me get it off my chest and also to feel free, inspire others who are in the same situation that it’s not wrong to speak up and have courage to stand up for what’s right.

These horrible experiences started three months ago, when I decided to temporarily stay in Uganda and help with the take-off process of the new Take flight women’s football Project as Project Manager instead of going back to UK to continue playing football with my new teammates.  The whole point now is, I feel I lost my self, I stopped doing the things I love so that I commit to helping the women’s game at a level that I hadn’t before. I normally used to do things under the Sseninde Foundation & the famous Sseninde Women’s Development Cup to help women in communities and all over to have opportunities to play football.

What hurts me is amidst the confusion of deciding to do this, I was warned by so many experienced figures in the game including my lovely mother against doing it, they all told me it wasn’t a good decision because of the system & also it wasn’t yet the right time, I knew they were all right and I listened to the advice they all gave. I only decided to stay a little longer because I felt like I was letting down what my heart felt was right, I felt I was letting down women, I had worked so hard writing a strategy to help take the game to another level just that one little step forward, my passion to see the women’s game get to a different level pushed me so much to sacrifice everything that I had worked hard for to stay and fully help just in the initial take-off phase of this project. So that when I go back to the UK I don’t feel as bad that I didn’t do my part. I thought at least if I mentored someone and helped navigate them into the whole strategy, at least they could run it smoothly without my presence while I decide to go back and join my teammates who I had started training with briefly before coming back to Uganda.

How it all started:

If you have never worked in this institution you will never understand what am going to write about, or you will think I am a liar. Every day I got surprise after surprise at the level of incompetence, lack of teamwork, the level of laziness, the I don’t care attitude and hatred from most of the secretariat!

I was treated with hatred for being good at my job & for every time I involved others to work with me! I don’t remember ever feeling like that before or receiving so much hatred for doing a great job. In fact, instead the alleged bosses intimidated some of the workers, threatened them and told them not to listen to me. That is true because they came back to me and told me after they had been threatened!

The biggest surprise is the Master who I thought was not good, he turned out to be the one doing the right thing with the wrong people. Don’t ask me who he is because I think you all know if u are into local football.

Some of the young secretariat, are forced to do wrong and not say a thing, in fear to keep their jobs they shut up. No one is allowed to express opinions in the institution except if they are ‘generals’(executive) who are also barely agreeing on anything because there’s no trust amongst them. No one is allowed to speak because when u do, your labelled disrespectful, unappreciative and all sorts of names, actually, others even say u will never manage. Anyone who says anything that’s not favourable is allegedly attacking the institution.

During the CECAFA tournament, the same group did everything to undermine me because they couldn’t take a young lady being 100 times better than them at working hard. Imagine an executive who is meant to be exemplary having a routine of wake up, sit under the tree, go home and then get paid a big sum of allowances! They couldn’t stand a young woman giving her best & being smart every day, I watched big men everyday displaying how incompetent they were and struggling to make simple decisions!

 Shame I was excited to learn from them when I first came on the scene, but I tell you, I couldn’t learn anything from men who are old enough to be my grandfathers and not able to plan, communicate or even work as a team. What institution doesn’t embrace people who are good at their job? They instead pull them down instead of pushing them and supporting them.

Now, before you judge me and call me a lair, not everyone in there is bad, some are in prison and afraid to break free just like I was. The stage is open, go work there for just 3 weeks, experience is the best teacher, you don’t need a month to know how incompetent the system & some of the secretariat are. I will tell you this with an example, as the league is yet to kick off, licencing has been introduced, the one secretariat in charge of licensing put in a requisition to get transport & allowances so as to go visit pitches and he didn’t visit any, instead as I woke up, I saw a tone of complaints at the outcome of decisions that had been made over night from nowhere, I had to drive up my car to Soroti one of the furthest districts from the capital to witness the state of the pitch that was being rejected, good enough I went with him. The pitch was one of the best we have around considering the lack of facilities in our country, there’s even more to this, I may be labelled one with a loose mouth but imagine watching your reputation being damaged because of the incompetence of someone else not doing their jobs because they can’t be asked to do the right thing!

Now am not asking for a penny but imagine working three months or more without pay, or even facilitation for the work you do for the institution! Imagine having to do official work and being asked to use own money which u don’t have because clearly u working for free.

Well I don’t know the consequences of writing this, maybe very bad, but I know I have to pay for it somehow. I am brave, The courage I have had to have to write this I believe I have taken a big step into doing the right thing and also speaking up something I have kept on my heart for the last few weeks while I struggle to break free out of the prison. It felt like it and I feel like I have broken free somehow by Speaking Up. I want to thank my friend ‘A’ for writing me a poem about me the other day that opened up my eyes that am actually in a prison and have to find a way to break free out of it.

Am sad that doing something I love at this big level has to turn out like this! I am very strong minded and feel extremely disappointed for having been pushed to this level for something I really love. I hope before you judge me you try and seek the facts that exist to this story that I cannot put down in this writing. Thank you so much to all who have stayed on this hard journey with me, my incredible dad & mum, my friends who have advised me every single day and watched me do the mistakes and still continue to listen to me, and sadly those I have lost on the way, you have taught me to be tougher and have courage to always tackle issues in case u are away.

Last week I finally went back to doing what I love and that is to continue supporting and encourage women to have their voice, speak up for what right and also motivate them to continue playing football for there’s lots of opportunities now. I miss my smile. I will continue to also help with the project as I have visited all Super league clubs this week to continue sensitising them about the project. I am proud to contribute to the growth and development of women’s football around the world because it’s my passion.

What I have written here doesn’t portray or even compare to how terrible the situation is or has been, but it’s made me stronger and I have learned lots about the system. The past 3 months have been the toughest of my entire life, looking back though, I have no regrets because I have come out a better person with my conscience clear and mentally trying hard to heal.

Author: Jean Sseninde

Forbes 30 under 30 Finalist 2019 | Footballer Uganda Women's National Team | CEO Sseninde Foundation | Founder Sseninde Women's Development Cup

4 thoughts on “BREAKING FREE”

  1. A lot more happens behind the curtains, it takes people that are brave enough to expose it.

    Everyone has a part to play, never look back to regrets – keep going.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A hard working and courageous woman that is Jean. These are only lessons learnt in your life. Continue excelling and doing good stuff….the best you know. At least am at peace now because I talked about most of these things when we met a while ago. All the best Jean.

    Liked by 1 person

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