Minister of State for Sports Charles Mulindwa has apologised on behalf of the government for failure to support Gulu District in hosting the East African Secondary School games.
Speaking during the official opening of the games at the renovated Pece War Memorial Stadium on Sunday afternoon Mulindwa said they are sorry for what happened.
“We apologise for what might happened; the renovation of Pece Stadium was on our behalf but we promise to finish the remaining part.” he said.
The minister’s apology followed a statement by Gulu district chairman Martin Ojara Mapenduzi over the failure by the government.
Renovating the dilapidated stadium required at least Shs 400 million, but only Shs 30 million was reportedly released on the final day to help complete construction of an Olympic standard swimming pool at St. Joseph’s College Layibi.
Mapenduzi said they were bitter at the ministry of education and sports at the beginning, but later realised that sports is underfunded.
He appealed to government to improve sports funding.
Mulindwa said they are very excited that Uganda for, first the time, has a semi-Olympic swimming pool.
Second deputy Prime Minister and Minister in charge of East African Affairs, Ali Kirunda Kivejinja, who represented the president at the opening, said that bringing the games to Acholi was to recognise that the region is part of the wider East African community after decades of armed conflict.
President Museveni’s message highlighted the fact that hosting the games was in recognition that the sub-region is not in war anymore. Armed rebellion laid waste to Acholiland over the last two decades.
Uganda is hosting the games for the fifth out of 16 editions so far held.
Mapenduzi said Gulu has been able to reach this milestone because of the slogan “yes we can” after the district was declared to host the games in May 2017.
“When Gulu was accorded rights to host the games we said together it is possible. You see this bigger part of the wall had collapsed, the pavilion was dilapidated but we came together and generously contributed to make what you see today,” he said..
The Gulu community reportedly raised between Shs 150 and Shs 200 million which helped to set up a new football field, construct a new perimeter wall, restore running water, electricity and toilet systems. The pavilion was also refurbished.
The Archbishop of Gulu Diocese John Baptist Odama called on political, religious and cultural leaders within East Africa Region to use sports to promote unity within the region so that they become stronger part of the continent.
St Joseph College, Layibi and Sacred Heart Girls School are jointly hosting the championship, while Pece Stadium and Kaunda Grounds is being used for athletics and basketball, respectively.
Other games ranging from rugby, netball, handball, hockey, and volleyball to the indoor ones like chess, badminton and swimming are being played at Layibi, Sacred Heart, Gulu High School and SOS grounds.
Last year’s games were hosted in Kenya, Eldoret. Kenya took the overall trophy.
There are over 3,500 participants from Uganda, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda in this year’s games.
Jinja S.S. and Kakamega S.S. (Kenya) played yesterday, with the Ugandan school losing 2-1