KAMPALA – Speaker Rebecca Kadaga on Sunday, December 8 presided over the official opening ceremony of the 10th East African Games being hosted by Uganda, although she admitted not having knowledge of Rwanda’s participation by only informing guests that she was hoping the nation’s team would arrive for the games.
Held under the theme; East African Community; One Spirit, One Destiny Strengthening Integration through 10years on inter-parliamentary games, the competition has attracted teams from Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi with Rwanda and South Sudan choosing to stay away from the competition.
The competition that started in 2011 with only football has now grown with more disciplines added including; Basketball, volleyball, netball with a number of stadia like MTN Arena Lugogo, St Mary’s Stadium Kitende, Mandela National Stadium Namboole.
Speaker Kadaga urged the organisers to identify talent and follow into footsteps of the number of sportsmen that are holding East African flag high on the international scene and also thanked the Community for according Uganda the opportunity to host the games.
She said, “I still look forward to seeing team of Rwanda arriving. Thank you for the great honour of giving us to host you. Thanks for successfully engaging in diplomacy. We are happy we have reached the tenth anniversary. We want to make sure that the games are people centered and the people of East Africa are here which means EAC is moving towards integration. We hope we identify new talent because EAC we hope we bring more champs amongst ourselves. We are here to learn from each other, compare notes. Let us pray those who win or lose pick yourselves up.”
The Speaker also said she was expecting the Rwanda team to arrive. When Frank Mugambage, Rwanda High Commissioner to Uganda was asked about whereabouts of his team, he said the two speakers are in touch and wasn’t in position to speak on behalf of the two leaders.
Gideon Gaptan, Chairman of Joint Planning Committee revealed that in this edition, the games have provided for the disciplinary committee and the teams have come with to medical services from as well as provided for trophies and medals, “This shouldn’t change the spirit of our games. We should remain focused on the integration agenda. These games are aimed at sensitizing citizens to ensure integration advances to the level we all admire.”
Mary Mugenyi, member of the East African Legislative Assembly who represented the body’s Speaker commended member states for taking part in the games saying the tournament is critical at increasing mutual trust and confidence among people of EAC as the participants reaffirm their commitment to integration process.
She said that the original objective of the game continues to be realized and urged the participants to participate with open spirit saying, “There is no need for acrimony at all, it’s not that you have to win. Let’s not witness any acrimony like it used to happen in the past. Carry spirit that’s positive otherwise you miss the point. Games of this nature shouldn’t be enhanced by doping or performance drugs. It is our expectation that it will not happen here.”
The teams will today hold a procession from Parliament to St. Mary’s Stadium Kitende with two football and netball matches lined up as part of the opening ceremony.
The competition will then proceed on Monday with Uganda playing Burundi in netball and Kenya takes on Tanzania in the same discipline at MTN Arena.