After unsuccessful professional football attempts at Ghana club Asante Kotoko and Vietnam, Uganda Cranes and KCCA leftback Joseph Ochaya has reported signed a multi-million deal in Zambia.
Ochaya who had hoped to earn a move to Europe riding on the back of starring for Uganda the 2017 African Cup of Nations finals in Gabon, a few days ago completed a Shs432m move from league holders KCCA to Zambian Premier League side Lusaka Dynamos.
With a personal sign-on fee of $50000 (Shs160m), expected to earn a reported $7000 (Shs25m) a month, it will be Ochaya knows the game has evolved in many ways today and money runs the beautiful game and age is nit on his side as well.
If it is not for the paycheque, Ochaya and his people cannot possibly argue that recently demoted and reinstated Lusaka is more competitive than KCCA that is playing in the African Champions League.
Playing his final game for KCCA on Saturday against Mamelodi Sundowns in the CAF Champions League, former local league MVP Ochaya, an increasingly peripheral figure in Ugandan football, however much his impending transfer to Zambia is dressed up, it is difficult not to think it deeply unsatisfying to see someone of his age abandoning any real sense of ambition and, without wishing to be too cruel, a certain amount of respectability. In mid 20s, he is approaching what should be the greatest years of his career, even if it seems apparent they will not be with KCCA or in Europe. He is also somehow rich already, most struggling footballers would assume, after being on Ghanaian and Vietnamese payrolls, and surely talented enough to attract potential buyers from top leagues in North Africa and Eastern Europe. Good luck to him, I suppose, but however many noughts are added to his salary, I do wonder how much job satisfaction there can be for a footballer with his gifts at a level several rungs down.
One would say that being a footballer in Uganda, Ochaya and his agent/manager are worried he would be skidding towards the end of a rapidly decelerating career and the truth is he has five or six years away from the point where he might be thinking about one last payday.
If that sounds slightly harsh, the reality is we are probably just going to have to get used to players heading that way, judging by the mind-boggling amounts on offer, and presumably it won’t be too long before the footballer gets a switch to the South African Premier League (Bidvest Wits 2016 transfer was a bluff) and the Zambian league is near to them and on SuperSport TV.
All the same, a footballer’s life has a short lifespan has Ochaya has to look after his family when he still can.