For the sports sector or industry to be vibrant as many want it to be, the role of government in various aspects is key and this has been the call for many sports associations and federations to the government of Uganda.
Besides funding which is important, there is a big role that the government must play to transform sports in the country from its amateur state to the modern and professional set up.
The forum organised by National Council of Sports on Tuesday at Copper Chimney Restaurant in Lugogo thus was timely and came as a great step towards the realisation of the aforementioned dream.
For the first time in five years, different sports associations sat under one roof with the government to discuss strategies that can be used to improve sports but also presented the various challenges they face. The last time such a forum was held was in 2014.
Minister of State for Sports, Hon. Charles Bakkabulindi presided over the function flanked by Mr Omara Apita, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education and Sports, NCS chairman Bosco Onyik and NCS Acting General Secretary Dr Bernard Patrick Ogwel.
Majority of the Federation heads that got the chance to speak highlighted the insufficient funding from the government towards the sports sector.
One of those was Uganda Boxing Federation President Moses Muhangi who indicated some of the activities in the federation have either been slowed down or completely abandoned due to lack of funds.
“It is a great opportunity for us as national sports associations to show our plight to the government. Whereas we thank the government for the current funding, we believe it is not enough to have federations run their activities according to plan.”
Muhangi also used the same chance to show discontent in the distribution of funds with football getting a lion’s share on the national cake.
“I’m not happy with the criteria used in allocating the available resources because football takes about 70% (10 of the 17 billion budget). This is wrong because the rest of the other federations are limited to share the remaining portion.”
While making his submission, FUFA President Moses Magogo in reply advised other federations not to indulge in such fights but rather come together to advocate for a better sports sector.
“Whereas funding is a key element but our projection should move away from the egg-chicken stories that we seem to be focusing on. As sports, we need to show value to government and there’s no way we are going to achieve that if we are divided,” said Magogo.
Magogo indicated that sports can help the government in addressing the challenge of unemployment which he thinks is a time bomb for the country.
“70% of the population in Uganda is below the age of 30 and many are unemployed. As sports, this is a tool we can sell to the government, show value and convince them that sports can solve the problem by employing the youth.”
The other key issues that the Federation Presidents raised included professionalization of the sector, legislation, taxation and infrastructure development among others.
Bakkabulindi in his remarks lauded the associations for promoting sports and promised more commitment from government.
“I thank the different federations and associations that despite the several challenges, you have been able to promote sports in the country. I’m happy that the government has created this platform for us to forge a way forward and this is evident enough that the government has an interest in the sector,” said the minister. “It is only through such engagements that we shall have a common ground and therefore be able to form strategies. I pray such fora continues to take place,” he added.
It was announced that the next meeting between government and sports federations will be held in the third week of August this year.