Lira- Students of St Katherine Secondary School in Lira District have not been in position to go to South Africa after government failed to release Shs30m needed for air tickets.

The students were supposed to travel to Pretoria, South Africa to represent Uganda at African Continental Softball competition.

Mr Elvis Emmanuel Owira, the coach of St Katherine Secondary School Softball Club, who was supposed to lead, said they were supposed to travel to South Africa on Tuesday January 8. The African Championships end tomorrow.

“We had already bargained for the flight with Kenya Airways and they had agreed for a return ticket at rate of US$318 (about Shs1.2m) per person,” he told Daily Monitor on Tuesday. He said that when they went to National Council of Sports to pick the cheque for the Shs30m on Thursday last week, they were turned down.

“The person who was supposed to release the money told us that the Minister of State for Sports has directed them to instead give the money to Uganda Cranes to facilitate the team for African Cup of Nation qualifier match in Tanzania in March,” Mr Owira said.

He said the school had only secured money for the passports and visas for the team, but it was government which was supposed to meet the cost of air flight and maintenance of the team.

“We were supposed to represent Uganda for the Softball game which will run from January 9 – 15, 2019 but the team was frustrated at the last moment when they were supposed to travel for the tournament for the world qualifying game to be held in August,” he added.

However, the chairman of the National Council of Sports, Mr Bosco Onyik, told Daily Monitor said that NCS only deals with Games and Sports Association.
He explained that it is the Commissioner of Sports through the Uganda Secondary Schools Sports Association which was supposed to handle the issue of St Katherine Secondary School.

“National Council of Sports deals with games and sports under federations, but schools sports is under the commissioner of sports in the ministry of Education and Sports,” Mr Onyik said on phone on Tuesday.

The President of Uganda Secondary Schools Sports Association (USSA), Mr Patrick Okanya, said their association handles sports issues in secondary schools within the country which is under the Ministry of Education and Sports.

“That is arranged directly by the Uganda Baseball and Softball Association but not Uganda Secondary Schools Sports Association. Uganda Secondary Schools Sports Association handles only those events which are in the Ministry of Education and sports calendar,” Mr Okanya explained.

Okanya stated that it was the responsibility of Uganda Baseball and Softball Association (UBASA) to facilitate the Softball team from St Katherine SS to travel to South Africa for the game.

The President of Uganda Baseball and Softball Association, Mr Dennis Kasozi could not be reached by press time since his known phone lines were switched off.

South Africa and Botswana will face each other in a five-game series to compete for the continental championship, and also to tune up for the Softball World Cup in Irvine, California, USA, from August 11-17. Both teams are qualified for the event.