Local community engaged in grass planting of Acholi Quarters play ground

The element of amenities and infrastructure has time immemorial been one of the most hinted concerns in as far as the development of games and sports is concerned in Uganda.

North to South, East to West; one virtually struggles to identify playing fields where the various disciplines can be played.

In the capital city, Kampala; the song is no different as the swelling population is fighting for any open space in the name of settlement and industrial parks.

Perhaps, residents in Nakawa division in Kireka – Banda zone of the famous Acholi Quarters slum are lucky, pretty lucky that there community ground space is untouched.

The Acholi Quarters play ground is undergoing a major metamorphosis from the old stony, bumpy, rocky and polythene wrapped ground to now a leveled and well grassed surface with stands, sanitary facilities and modest changing rooms.

Tractor on duty

These are the deliberate efforts of the Aliguma Foundation (AF) through the Sports For Resilience and Empowerment Project (SREP), funded by the UEFA Foundation for Children and blessed wholesomely by the local community.

The upgrade of this facility has gone to phase 2 with the leveling done and dusted as well as the tedious grass planting task.

The Coronavirus Pandemic that has ravaged the entire world for now two years since December 2019 did not hold back this project as it has been work in progress.

The main purpose at hand is to transform the vulnerable Acholi Quarters community through sports.

This project targets girls, boys, women and other caregivers (including refugees and those with disabilities) living in Acholi Quarters gave another cheer to the community with the whole playing surface area re-levelled with powerful machinery including excavators and graders.

Watering of the freshly planted grass

The young and old, male or female have been all active to participate in the vigorous re-greening drive as well as watering.

Of late, nature has blessed the Acholi Quarters with the timely “Godly” irrigation – the rains as black soil and other fertilizers will also play a role for the grass to mature in a record time.

The Aliguma Foundation founder Ritah Aliguma, joined by the enthusiastic local community and FUFA Appeals committee member  Sabiiti Muwanga engaged in the final phase of the grass planting.

Muwanga also a former president of Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA) and a farmer in Butambala district generously offered tips and guidance on the grueling grass planting for the entire three days.

Sabiiti Muwanga helped in the planting of the grass and chipped in with priceless rich suggestions here and there

The rains have done us well. The grass planting has been flawless and the youth have been actively involved. Depending on how they continuously water the pitch in the morning and evening, the ground will be ready for use between four and six months. We are very happy with the community. They were cooperative and they really showed its their property. We don’t expect them to misuse it. This is going to be a hub of many talents across different sports disciplines.

Sabiiti Muwanga, FUFA Appeals Committee member

Acholi Quarters team leader Brian Onen is excited for the progress of the playing field that also has stands erected at one part.

This is our home. This is something we have not seen before. We are overly excited. We are going to make sure that the grass comes out well.

Brian Onen, Acholi Quarter Team Leader
The grueling grass planting exercise to make Acholi Quarters play ground tick and green

Aside sporting activities for the youth, the other primary goal of the sports facility equipped with basic training facilities is to enable women and other caregivers in the area to benefit from the facility and gain skills to start and manage their own businesses thus allowing them to take care of themselves and their families sustainably.

On a broad perspective, this is one means of protecting over 2,500 children from exploitation and enabling them to go to school and forthwith delay marriage until the right time as well as promote gender equality in Acholi Quarters through equal opportunities.

I am very excited about the progress of the Acholi Quarters Playground upgrade. The drainage system has been worked upon and the stands in place. Now, we have finished the grass planting with watering done twice a day. Good enough, the rains has done us well. The community leaders and everyone have been supportive and it is always good to see the community engaged. This is their own ground. I thank UEFA, the other partners as UNICEF, local community people and leaders, the media and everyone for a role played in a way or another.

Ritah Aliguma, Founder Aliguma Foundation
Sabiiti Muwanga with the advice during the grass planting exercise at Acholi Quarters play ground

What is next in the pipeline?

The third phase will see the constructing user-friendly toilets and up-to-scratch changing rooms at the facility.

Other partners:

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Refugee Agency, are the Foundation’s partners and they offered casual labourers’ tools for improving the playing conditions of the pitch in Acholi Quarters.

Sabiiti Muwanga and Ritah Aliguma on the foundation stone

About this Project:

UEFA Foundation For Children earmarked 16 projects from 15 African countries. In total they’re 55 projects world over with others from Europe, Asia, North & South America, as well as Oceania. The other African countries picked out are Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan Democratic Republic of Congo, Congo, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, Central African Republic, Chad, Lesotho and South Africa who have two projects.

The 2020/21 budget of €4,812,021 ($6,409,154.83 or UGX 21 billion) was allocated to new projects or an extension of existing projects. to embark on the Third Phase in earnest by constructing user-friendly toilets and up-to-scratch changing rooms at the facility.

In November 2020, the Foundation was announced among the 16 new children’s projects approved in Africa by the UEFA for a SREP.

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

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