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.

AM NOT RETIRED.

“I am not the best footballer in history, but I-am unstoppable”.

You who keep writing me off, and wondering if am playing or not, let me hope this will be the best answer for you.

So my last year at QPR quarter way through the season I got a bad hamstring injury, which gave me a lot of issues, I didn’t play again till the last 5 games of the season which I played with the reserve team of course while trying to get back to full fitness.

Before I recovered I went into major depression, hated everything. The pressure I always put on myself to succeed is high so in this case I wasn’t even playing so it made things worse for me mentally and physically.

I wanted to play but couldn’t so I realised I needed to be patient and heal first in order for me to play again. It took me a lot of time to even get back the metal zeal to move on, get a football and play because I had stayed quiet about it, the fact that I wasn’t happy because I couldn’t play.

After getting back home and having a well deserved break, speaking about it with the doc, I felt better to finally move on. Cutting that whole long story short, Now I moved into my new lovely house, I’ve been so peaceful, and my one year with QPR last season in London ended.

Now after playing for London Phoenix, Crystal Palace Women and Queens Park Rangers Women, all in London for past few years,

I say goodbye to Living in London, to another area in the UK.

Am unto new beginnings, this time mentally and physically healthy. Some of you were writing me off and retiring me, I still have the passion to play and am not retired, will be the first to announce when I do.

Am Ready to put my body through hell to regain full fitness to fight for starting spot for both my team and country.

Am Jean Sseninde a determined, creative hardworking lady who plays football, runs the Sseninde Foundation as a CEO, a founder of one of the best grassroots football tournament in Africa, A Forbes Africa 30 under 30 finalist this year, Doing a UEFA B licence football coaching with the London FA, Human Resources Management & Psychology degree in the UK and soon to be a Project Manager of something really exciting with (WF).

Am just a different girl born in Uganda who is defining what a woman who plays football can became and should be like, exceedingly multi talented who will never put limits on anything they can achieve because, I may not be a legend, am not the best footballer in history, but I-am unstoppable because I have the power to achieve whatever I put my mind on to achieve.

Jean Sseninde -(The Fixer).

During The Bad Times.

Jean Sseninde, “The Fixer”

No one wants to be around you during the bad times!

I opened this blog to speak up and say out things on my mind. At times I take long to put something on mainly because I speak up from inspiration.

I have been running the Sseninde Women’s Development Cup for 3 years now and this year will be the 4th. Before I continue, let me take the opportunity to invite you for this years edition on August 24th, 2019 at Kakyeka Stadium in Mbarara, Uganda.

So continuing this story, I have had challenges, I have given everything on this road, I’ve put my career on the line, this road is very lonely I tell you this, endless sleepless nights, tears, at times mild depression, no one can understand it I guess. It’s like being on a battle field every single day. If it’s not for my incredible team, It would be hard to go on. So many people are not honest in there relationships with others.

At times people are only available when the bad times are gone, or when something to there advantage is gonna happen. Always watch out . No one should ever take you for granted.

My advise is, keep in touch with all people who matter. Be kind to others and don’t be there for your friends only during the good times. The bad times matter as well because that’s when strong friendships are built.

Amidst the real battle, fight fight fight, the only recognised place now days is number one so please fight to be the best in everything you do. The mental and physical battle, win it all. Have the right people around you.

In my case if your my friend reading this or even if your not, My name is Jean Sseninde and I fix things. I love to be there for people during the bad times mainly and help them fix the problem. So please count on me and always remember: Am

Jean Sseninde ‘The fixer’

4th Edition Sseninde Women’s Development Cup 2019

“The time is NOW”

The 4th Edition Of the Sseninde Women’s Development Football Cup 2019 is just 30 days away. The excitement is building inside me and I have a good feeling about this one. It’s the first time we are going to do it at Mbarara in Kakyeka Stadium. Looking back from 2016, wow leaps and bounds we have made.

I remember the first edition in my Maama’s office at 3am the day before the tournament busy typing team sheets, I was innocent just starting to break on the scene in the real world. Didn’t know what was coming for me four years later.

The sacrifices I’ve had to make to make sure this runs for the fourth year are just what I didn’t expect. The demand the sleepless nights and so much in between you won’t know of course. I wouldn’t have done anything without my incredible team. We started as 9 volunteers and now we are 52. Still can’t believe what’s happening at times.

Usually athletes take sport number 1 and I do as well. Can’t believe I put my career on the line for the first time in my life and I felt fulfilled. I feel my vision is clearer now. My dream is to see millions of girls get opportunities I never got and that’s going to be my fight through actions. I want to live by example.

As I continue to spend more sleepless nights, I pray and hope we continue to work together and support each other through it all. We can never be 100 percent but we can try to be the best version of what we can be because the time is NOW.

Split Second.

“Magic is created in split seconds and dreams are shuttered in split seconds”

I dreamt last night that I had no leg, in other words I was using a prosthetic leg for support to move in one of my legs. In the dream, I was wondering how I had got to that point. And also realising that there’s nothing I could do to change that fact, wishing I was in a dream so I could wake up healthy, but also realising in the dream that am not in a dream, confusing ha? In a split second, my life unexpectedly turned upside down! Confused with disbelief I had to figure out how to still be useful to others and how I was going to be the best at what I do with a prosthetic leg.

Mistakes and bad things happen to us in a split second. You lose your concentration for one second and it’s enough to change your whole life upside down. In the dream I wasn’t born walking with a prosthetic, I only got it at around 34. Good news is I woke up fine and had both my legs, phew! God is great.

This teaches me that we need to live every moment to the fullest without regret. We don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow so every second counts. Every second could change your life. Magic is created in split seconds and dreams are shuttered in split seconds therefore we need to stay concentrated and stay focused in everything we do because every split second counts.

FIFA Women’s Football Convention 2019.

“Dreams do come true, I dreamt of this moment”

Am humbled to be amongst a strong line up of speakers at the First ever FIFA Women’s Football Convention in Paris, France from June 6th to June 7th, 2019 ahead of the Eighth Edition of the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The Convention will assemble leaders from the world of football and politics for the first time, to discuss key issues around the development and empowerment of women in football.

Dreams do come true, I dreamt of this moment and can’t believe I have the opportunity. I am so excited and still can’t believe that I will be speaking at the first ever Women’s Football Convention. Women football growth is one of the key issues I’ve been so vocal about, what an honour this is! Still can’t put it into words.

Will be speaking about empowerment through football and education of women and girls around the World.

Follow all action live on FIFA TV https://www.youtube.com/user/FIFATV and FIFA YouTube channel.

What I Missed Out Doesn’t Matter.

“Life for me is not about being comfortable anymore”

Looks like everyone of my old classmates is getting married yet on my side, I feel my priorities have changed from the 21 year old who fancied to get married and have kids.

My priorities are now to be a great woman of purpose to the world. For now am focused on working to learning as much as I can and developing. Hopefully everyone else has gone through this stage in their life. There’s a way sport makes you obsessed to succeed and other things become second options.

My life has been in stages, I wonder if everyone of you is just like me? At the age of 8 – 16, I never had clear opportunities to anything. My only passion was football which was a sport for the boys then. Should have learned more at my golden age but I don’t regret anymore of what I should have had then because I had no opportunities, it was out of my control and I understand that now. I stopped looking at how things should have been in the past, what I missed out doesn’t matter. I now concentrate on making the future great because it’s the only thing have power to change.

17 – 21, Age of school and adolescence, figuring out life, I don’t remember much apart from studying around that age. At 22-24, I felt I wanted kids, don’t know why I did,thinking of it now feels so awkward.

At 25- 26, am now not ashamed of who I-am anymore. I trust I have the power to be great and I understand I have to work very hard to achieve even half of the things I want to achieve. Am determined, I have to push my limits. Life for me is not about being comfortable anymore. I want to be successful and leave an impact in people’s hearts.