Uganda’s male team to the Fiba Africa Zone V Basketball qualifiers in Cairo will be without Norman Blick, a conspicuous absentee when the Silverbacks participated at Afro-basket for the first time in history two years ago.

Blick is one of the greatest basketballers in the history of the game in the country and will be remembered for leading Sky Jammers, Nkumba Marines and Power to Fuba League titles with his all-round skills – as a facilitator, scorer, rebounder and swingman - and as a leader on court. He improved mediocre players around him - think Mark Kasadha and Carol Bisereko - and carried some to championships.

But his declining powers coincided with the era when the national team basketball became a priority for Fuba. Ten years ago, Blick would have been the first name of Silverbacks. Two years ago he was deemed not good enough to make the team by the selectors.

Blick’s legacy is secure. But his national team years, or the lack thereof, will be owed to the player’s power waning when Silverbacks grew. Although the player’s exclusion has been linked to a passport hitch, his subsequent retirement and the tone of the 6ft 6in star show a high degree of disappointment who was all but certain that this was his final chance to add a Silverbacks chapter to his illustrious history.

Still it was professional negligence for the player to train this hard and only discover 48 hours to departure that his passport was expired.

Coach Mandy Juruni had reportedly chosen him on the travelling contingent but much to the chagrin of the player and coach, non-sporting issues ruled him out of the team to Egypt. Only Blick is to blame for his non-inclusion. The irony of course is that while Blick has opted out of the national team, the older Stephen Omony continues to play at a level where he is still considered invaluable.

Regardless, local basketball should enjoy both Omony and Blick for their careers are in twilight. Their lights will go out anytime.

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Let’s unearth more Okellos out there
Sport has since time memorial yearned for teenage, precocious talent. We all love stories of young, talented kids with bags of potential and humble, innocent faces.

The one such story making headlines is KCCA’s Allan Okello, the Kibuli student already with an AUPL hat-trick to his name.
It is such developments that make us love the beautiful game – a game where good enough translates to being old enough. Okello is good and we hope that he realizes his potential once he matures into adulthood.

He could play on for the next two decades if he listens to the right advice, trains religiously, is handled the right way and keeps his head grounded. Uganda is not blessed with Allan Okello only, there are over 1000 Allan Okellos out there.
There are thousands of kids who can play the game the right way, many of them with divine talent.
It is a credit to Fufa that the federation has championed under age development - because that is where the future of the game lies.

Another feel-good AUPL development
The new St Mary’s Stadium that will be home to Vipers in the Azam Uganda Premier League is a story that must be celebrated by all fans of the beautiful game.

I will visit the ground today for the first time hoping the Vipers-Platinum Stars offers entertainment befitting of the opening match at the stadium. With a stadium of its own, Vipers now join KCCA as the two topflight teams with home grounds that can host a Confederation of Africa (Caf) match.

The advent of St Mary’s stadium has thrown the gauntlet to SC Villa. Uganda’s most successful club is yet to construct its own home, the very reason why their home ground has changed from Mityana to Namboole, Nakivubo and now Masaka in the last couple of years. Hopefully for the Villa faithful, Masaka will be the final stop is the club’s merry-go round of home grounds.

FMU should take rallying to the north
Last weekend’s Gorilla in the Mist Rally, which was won by Duncan ‘Kikankane’ Mubiru and George Ssemakula, has been labeled a success by fans and pundits who made the long trek to Kabale.

Although only 13 of the 27 cars that started the rally finished the race, the rally enthralled fans and was won by the popular crew of Mubiru and Ssemakula.

FMU have succeeded in making the sport a Ugandan affair, and not an activity solely for the enjoyment of fans within central Uganda.

We have had rallies in the central, southern, eastern and western parts of the country.

The time is nigh for FMU to take the man and machine sport to northern Uganda.

mnamanya@ug.nationmedia.com
@mnamanya