President Museveni talks to the some Oympics medalists outside Entebbe State House

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni has tasked the Ministry of Education and Sports to compile the list of all sports medalists; gold, silver or bronze for a special recognition whether alive or dead.

If dead, the President hinted that the family of the deceased will directly benefit.

The beneficiaries ought to have excelled at the Africa continental level, Common Wealth or the Olympics for the past 66 years.

In a detailed message to all the countrymen, countrywomen and the Abazukulu (great children) published on his personal website; www.yowerimuseveni.com, President Museveni lauded Ugandans for the brave fight against the Coronvirus pandemic.

Kickboxer Patricia Apolot and President Museveni pose for a photo. Apolot has won many medals on the continent and globally (Photo: PPU)

By copy of this message, I ask the Ministry of Education to compile for me all the exemplary Ugandan sports performers at the African continental level, the commonwealth or the Olympics since 1954 when Etolu, the high jumper, represented Uganda at Perth, Commonwealth Games in Australia. I remember his picture very well. Anybody that won a gold, silver or bronze medal, should be rewarded whether alive or dead. If dead, the family can benefit.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President for the Republic of Uganda

President Museveni retaliated upon the early days as a football himself and his personal interest in sports before he switched off the love for the leisure and pleasure sector.

Being a footballer myself, I used to avidly follow, not only the news about football in East Africa, but I would follow up all the sports, especially, athletics. I would know all the names such as the boxers, Seruwagi and Tom Kawere. The latter got a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, at Cardiff, in Wales, UK. Sprinters like the Goan from Kenya, Serafino Antao. Footballers like Kadenge of Kenya and David Otti of Uganda. 

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President for the Republic of Uganda

On a sad note, President noted that he had never heard of legendary footballer Jimmy Kirunda (R.I.P) until he died.

He forwarded the reason because of the insurgencies that marred this country between 1971 to 1986 when his own National Resistance Movement (NRM) officially took over.

Jimmy Kirunda (left) during the pre-match customs in 1978. Kirunda’s father will directly benefit from the President’s offer

I , actually, never heard of Kirunda until when he died. Why? It is because for 16 years, 1971-1986, we, the freedom fighters, were cut off from and we were not concentrating on the pleasure and leisure activities that were going on in Uganda. I would only pick up a few extra-ordinary performances by East African sports persons such as Kipchoge Keino, with a record for 1500metres in Mexico City, 1968, I think, Akii Bua’s 400 meters hurdles record in the Munich Games, 1972 and a Tanzanian Army Officer, Filbert who won the marathon for one of the Olympic events. Hence, I had never heard of our Kirunda, the footballer. This, however, was up to 1966 when Uganda entered into the political crisis of un-constitutionalism. Right from that time up to 1986, my antennas for pleasure and leisure were switched off and attention went to the struggle.

Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President for the Republic of Uganda
She Cranes team that won the 2018 Africa Netball Championship Credit: David Namunyala

Some of the expected beneficiaries will cut across the different sporting disciplines as boxing, athletics, football, netball, kickboxing, karate, golf, swimming, chess, hockey, cricket, rugby, handball, tennis, lawn tennis, basketball, rowing, pool, motorsport, volleyball, woodball, weightlifting, powerlifting, chess, squash, rugby, cycling, badminton and the like.

That said, a long list of over 500 outstanding sports icons from the 51 recognized sports disciplines duly registered by the National Council of Sports (NCS) will be carefully compiled to avoid errors of omission.

The legendary hurdler John Akii Bua (Rest in Peace) kicks to victory during the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany

Great Ugandan sportsmen as John Akii Bua (R.I.P), Davis Kamoga, legislator Julius Acon, Stephen Kiprotich, Boniface Kiprop, Joshua Cheptegei, Halima Nakaayi, Mercy Chebet, swimmers Kirabo Namutebi, Ganzi Mugula, Aya Nakitanda, players on the famous 1978 Uganda Cranes team,  pool team that scooped silver at the Africa Continental championship, Uganda Golf team, rowers, netballers, handball team, powerlifter Roy Mubiru, boxers from the old crop of Justine Jjuuko, Godfrey Nyakana to the current generation of Fazil Juma Kaggwa, Musa Shadir Bwogi and many more others will all directly benefit.

Roy Mubiru (right) with President Museveni before he took part in the 2019 World Championships hosted in Ukraine

The criteria by which the Ministry of Education and Sports alongside NCS will compile this list remains a topic for another column.

David Isabirye is a senior staff writer for Kawowo Sports where he covers most of the major events.

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