As the club’s technical director, Victor Satei has had a very direct role in shaping the philosophy of Gulu United, the Uganda based club that is trying to foster a project that educates and, at the same time, prepares players for top level football. In this interview he talks of the process he went through in joining the club and what he has learned from the experience.
Blueprint for Football: How did you get to know of the Gulu United project?
Victor Satei: I received a message from Adrian Bradbury (Gulu United's International and Academy Director) who wanted to discuss a possible project he was looking to pursue at the time. We sat down for coffee and he described his story and what he had in mind, I was in from the moment he started describing it.
BfF: What is your role?
VS: As the clubs techincal director, my company and I are responsible for the technical development of the coaches and players. We worked hard alongside Adrian to lay out a plan that was simple enough to execute and effective enough to put us on the right path.
BfF: What differences and similarities do you see with kids you normally encounter in Canadian youth clubs?
VS: At the end of the day both parts of the world have their advantages and disadvantages.
In Northern Uganda you have children that are fearless, super athletic and love to play football but lack any type of elite structured environment.
In Canada you have an amazingly multicultural country with children that are eager, super athletic and passionate about football but they are drowned with overly structured environments from too young an age, often gaining bad habits that later become too difficult to be undone.
At Gulu United players are housed in a full-time program offering both education and football. We have recruited the region’s top young talent and we're developing them as top level footballers who are educated.
BfF: Were you afraid to go to a country with the reputation of Uganda?
VS: No, Adrian filled me in on what to expect so I was not worried.
BfF: How has this experience helped you develop as a coach?
VS: I'd say the most developmental part of the journey up to now is how far it challenges your adaptability. You face different scenarios on a daily basis that cannot be planned for, you have to be ready to change things and adapt on the spot.
As the first full-time professional football academy in Uganda, we've worked hard to shift the culture and beliefs surrounding youth player development making discipline and hard work our two main focal points followed by a commitment to excellency.
I look back and am so proud of how much progress we've made, there has been great support from everyone back home in Canada and our staff can't wait to reach our goals.