The anxiety for domestic sports activities to resume is high not only for the fans but the athletes as well. Following a halt on several events in March due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, there seems to be deliberate efforts made to ensure things get back to normal.

Whereas there hasn’t been any local sports event given the green-light to resume, the work behind the curtains by both the Government of Uganda through the National Council of Sports (NCS) and federations/associations is evident.

In June, NCS released the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that federations/associations must follow with sports disciplines classified into three categories

Low risk

Archery, Canoe- Kayak, Cycling, Darts, Dragon boating, Fencing, Roll ball, Ultimate Frisbee, Goalball, Athletics, Golf, Motorsport, Pool, Rowing, Swimming, Skating, Zukanneh.

Medium risk

Baseball and Softball, Floorball, Deaf Sports, Gymnastics, Lacrosse, Lawn bowls, Sports Climbing, Squash, Weightlifting, Hockey, Cricket, Chess, Scrabble, Table tennis, VX, Ludo, Lawn tennis, Badminton, Draughts, Volleyball.

High risk

Basketball, Boxing, Handball, Judo, Kabaddi, Kickboxing, Netball, Rugby, Soccer/Football, Taekwondo, Wrestling.

With several engagements undertaken, NCS will on Tuesday present the guidelines put in place to the COVID-19 National Task Force at State House, Entebbe.

NCS General Secretary, Bernard Patrick Ogwel confirmed that they will meet the task force tomorrow to forge a way forward for the sports sector.

‘Like His Excellency the President of Uganda said, we must give priority to our life before anything else. We know the situation is not good for sports and people are anxious for activities to resume but this must be done carefully.’ He said.

President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni took to his social media to show that the Government is thinking about resumption of sports.

“I welcome the positive suggestions like the idea of sports without audiences that have been tried in other countries of Europe,” Museveni posted on Facebook.

“There are also ideas of isolating the tourism areas that I saw in Cuba. However, all this must be subsidiary to life.’

Ogwel asserts that there has been constant engagement with the authorities to forge a way forward.

‘We have been in constant communication with the authorities that be and there is hope for gradual return. Last week, the Minister of State for Sports met the Prime Minister and it was agreed that another meeting be arranged this Tuesday.’

Some of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) included in the NCS paper include availability of hand-washing gel/ sanitizers on numerous points at a given sports facility, putting in place signage of hygiene facilities at stadiums, training facilities and changing rooms, providing first aid and designated medical services that can trace for signs and symptoms of COVID-19.

Additionally, it was agreed in the document that each venue must have temperature guns.

Ogwel stated that NCS is in talks with government to offer support where necessary because some of the requirements come with financial demands.

“We know there is a challenge that if we are to resume, it must come at cost. Where possible, federations will foot these bills but we are also talking to government for support in some areas such as providing testing kits and the PPEs.”

He also indicated that for now they are looking at sports resuming without fans coming to stadia. This will be used as a feasibility study on whether the fans can be allowed later on.

‘For now, the focus is on how the games return with minimized numbers. Therefore, our presentation to the task force will not cater for fans because we want to use the in initial return as a trial phase.’

Last week, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA) President met with the Prime Minister, Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda.

The meeting was purposely to seek for permission to allow the Uganda U17 Women’s National team to start training ahead of the fixture against Cameroon in the FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup qualifiers.

Joel Muyita is a senior staff writer at Kawowo Sports.

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