OpEd

Ugandan football coming of age

 

FUFA president Eng Moses Magogo. File photo.

By  Moses Magogo

FOOTBALL–Five Years ago as we tried to convince government to fund the national team, the then-PS Education wondered how we can look for money to transport people by air to go and play when UNEB was lacking funds. The destiny of football could not go beyond the whims of the PS neither did it merit any seconds of thought

Fast forward, today, I am here excited that FUFA’s advocacy agenda has delivered football and generally sports to the highest table of decision making in this country. We have talked, written, demonstrated, lobbied, appealed, explained, and achieved sporting results to communicate the value of sport to Our Nation. We are eventually getting there.

I will take the moment to thank President Museveni and the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni for hosting both Football and Netball to their Country Home in Rwakitura on 2nd January 2018.

I was personally full of emotions that despite the busy schedule and several important programmes, the Head of State and the First Lady spent a full day with sportsmen freely talking to everyone, joking, playing, drinking, eating, laughing but most importantly talking sport.

The Grandchildren of the First Family demanded to take pictures with the Uganda Cranes and narrated how they follow all Uganda Cranes matches. The State House staff did not hide their excitement of mingling with the Uganda Cranes. This is just a good sample to show how far we have carried the brand

The Head of State believes that with tapping talent early and with proper feeding, our players will be able to shoot Enyanda. He would relay minute by minute of the Uganda Vs. Ghana AFCON Match where Isaac Isinde gave away a simple penalty and Farouk Miya hit a feeble ball instead of Enyanda like Bunyenyezi used to do.

We also discussed the economics of Sports and the moment of humour was when the two neighbours disagreed. The President thought when the players go out of the country for professional football it is good for them and the country while Maama Janet thought it weakens the league and has a domino effect on the national team as well. The President and First Lady were being engaged in a deeply technical sports discussion and considering that both arguments carried weight, I proposed to postpone the debate of the neighbours to a later date.

The Minister of Education and Sports preached that the talent of sportsmen is a gift from God. She called upon all sportsmen and women to owe allegiance to the one true God. She gave both football and netball two movies to watch thus “Facing the Giants” and “the Chariot of Venice”

The Output of the Story is that we have delivered football and generally sport from the pitches to the final decision making office. It continues to reverberate in my ears when Ms Janet Museveni in her own remarks said football is no longer recreational but an economic activity that promotes our country.

This attention of the First Family has automatically and exponentially elevated the priority level of football and the Sports from a fitness activity to one that must be attended to urgently. In marketing it is called *”Postioning”* and this is not accidental instead it has taken us strategies and time

With this support, we have within 24 hours engaged with the technocrats from the Ministry of Education and Sports, National Council of Sports and the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development and as we speak, a supplementary funding to a tune of 13b UGX is being processed to support Football, Netball, Boxing, Athletics, Basketball, Rugby and Other Sports in the next 6 months to the end of the 2017/8 Budget.

The MOFPED has also formally allowed the MoES to include the Activities for the 2018/9 Financial Year starting July 2018. In principle, what the country has been crying for has been answered. Government will hereafter provide funding in the National Budget for National Teams and the days of over staying the welcome of HE the President by soliciting for funding from State House are gone.

I must mention specifically that the Minister of State for Sports Hon Charles Bakabulindi has been very instrumental in this achievement. I believe it is a bigger score than qualification to afcon after 40years

Thank you HE the President, the First Lady and all the government officials who have made this happen

To the athletes, It is time to shine

*It is Our Game, It is Our Country*

The writer is the FUFA president

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