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Independent opinions

A Revived Sports sector is a free marketing tool for the Tourism sector

A guest writer, Jacob Kagina, pens down his thoughts on the support accorded to the Ugandan Olympics participators…

A few days ago, I watched the story of Uganda’s Olympic Gold medalist, Stephen Kiprotich, on

image

Stephen Kiprotich crossing the finish line at the Olympics

one of the local television stations and I must admit, it was a touching and inspiring one indeed. This was like a miracle.

At first I didnt believe that we had won a gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics and when I heard the news, it was amazing! However, while this man was getting close to the finish line, he was given our Ugandan Flag. image

He said it was a Zimbabwean who gave him the flag not a Ugandan!!!

And he crossed the finish line while waving the flag. To me that was the most touching moment in the history of our athletics for the last 40years.
 
Yesterday during the show on TV, he said one good thing which I believe all the sportsmen and women should learn, “My life is not about money! It’s about how to inspire many young Ugandans to become champions”. 

Not very long ago, before the Olympics, the I.O.C() of Uganda was at crossroads. We had two factions, one for Kabenge and the other for Rogers Ddungu.  What were they fighting for? I attribute the whole confusion to MISMANAGEMENT.

Recently there was this very controversial scuffle between FUFA and USL officials. Now this one is a nasty one which I don’t even want to hear. They are all accusing each other of interpreting the new constitution poorly. There was that for the URU. Before all those, we had the scuffles of UBF, UKBF and so many others. In the past Olympic events, Uganda has at least taken some boxers to the event. So what went wrong? What is the problem? What is going on? What is the National Council of Sports doing for that matter? What is the Ministry of Sports doing? What is our media doing? What are you doing for that matter.

In August this year, I sat down and listened to a radio talk show called ‘Ground Zero’. That day, the show was about SPORTS and it was a good one. Very many people had good views about how we can revive the sports sector. One person suggested that government should make sure atleast every region has a well facilitated sports facility to tap and develop different sports. Again, I heard the state Minister Of Sports saying that they had proposed for a full ministry of sports.

I agree that all these are good ideas but why for example should you ask for a ministry when the country is only surviving with one stadium.  Don’t we have any other alternatives? In the past few years, our neighbours Kenya have done what Uganda used to do in the 70s. They have managed to invest in sports. Don’t be surprised if they say the government is getting a lot of revenue from tourism simply because they have marketed the country through sports. Who doesn’t want to be known? Just imagine now if Uganda qualifies for the AFCON in South Africa! Just imagine the coverage that will be there, the attention! I believe something can turn around.

In politics, there is something they call ‘cheap popularity’. Sometimes this works for some of our politicians, they get arrested and get sympathy and that’s another term of office. For our Sports, the solution is simple; Invest in sports, nature talent, get it exposed and get Uganda known! That’s all.

Why should we first ask for a Ministry, cars, fuel, salaries then blaahh blaah for getting Uganda another 10 or more Gold medals. Is it what it takes?

Get all the structures functioning and the money will bring itself. After all, I have observed that every time we get a good investor in football, wrangles emerge. Why can’t some people really sacrifice for the better of the country? You have a Pay Television company giving you money and on top of that broadcasting your games, really why bring in this confusion?

I think we still have a lot to learn. Somebody should wake up the leadership. Pledges must be fulfilled and we must resist corruption in the game. In China, Olympic Champions begin to be groomed when they are as young as 5. These guys even flog their kids to go for training. This tells you how they value the sports culture and gives you a reason why they keep on top of that medals list.

In Uganda, it’s even rare for a parent to tell their kids to pursue their sports dream.  To be a champion you have to be prepared. At least that’s what I also learnt from the story of Kiprotich. He used to wake up early, be the first to enter the bus, the first to get to the track for training, the first to eat and also had some divine intervention.

Last week, we witnessed Namboole stadium being closed off for renovations. Surprisingly, that is where the Uganda Cranes were training from, barely 2 weeks and 3 days to the game. I thought they did these things already!!! Didn’t the management know that there was an international match that was to be played there? Look at Nakivubo, a very terrible state it is in!

Somebody wake government up. Much as we need electricity and good roads, we also need the sports pride of the country to be restored.  Sports, if revived, can be a powerful tool in marketing Uganda in the next generational years. Let the story of Kiprotich open our eyes, I pray the Mighty Uganda Cranes use this inspiration.

For God and My Country
@jackagina (on twitter)
jackagina@gmail.com

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    1. #MyWord – “A Revived Sports sector is a free marketing tool for the Tourism sector” – etemperance

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