The lead up to the biennial Africa Nations Championship (Chan) saw two national teams hosted by President Museveni at his country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhura District.
The football team, Uganda Cranes, and the netball side, She Cranes, made the over five-hour road journey and had lunch with the President.
The First Lady Janet Kataha Museveni, also the Education and Sports minister, her deputy Charles Bakkabulindi, along with government technocrats attended.
One of the things that came through from the luncheon was President Museveni’s questions about the football federation’s budgets and how they handle their finances.
He was ‘incensed’ by the fact that Ms Museveni was often sidelined from accessing information regarding football’s needs. However, the one thing that came out prominently was the need for more funding. Sports in Uganda is grappling with inadequate funding as the sub sector is allocated a meagre Shs12b from the Shs2.4 trillion given to the ministry.
This is peanuts. Just this year, Uganda Cranes play at the Chan tournament that gets underway at the weekend in Morocco, and also have the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Netball has a trip to Australia for the Commonwealth Games in Goldcoast as well as the Rugby Cranes and an avalanche of athletes and boxers. Basketball’s Silverbacks have the 2019 World Cup qualifiers starting next month in West Africa.
This is to mention just a few as per the National Council of Sports’ (NCS) plan to fund priority disciplines from the 2018/19 budget year.
Their push convinced President Museveni to order the Ministry of Finance to avail a supplementary budget of Shs13bn which the ‘needy’ federations will receive this week.
This is a welcome solution but remains a handout which isn’t sustainable. Structuring this funding will help them more.
Sports can no longer be treated as a secondary sector. It’s a primary need for a young population that’s desperate for employment. Why then not invest heavily in it? And more importantly, sports is non-discriminatory. It is non-partisan and embraces all tribes, cultures, religions and beliefs in the country.
Over time sport has succeeded in bits without funding from government and poor governance practices. The examples are Stephen Kiprotich, David Emong and the Uganda rugby team.
A little more attention will do and the rewards will be exponential.
However, it’s possible to turn the corner from the Shs13b hereon.