Kampala—11, August 2021: Uganda Peoples Congress (UPC) party has applauded Uganda’s athletes who shone at the just concluded Tokyo Olympics 2020 hosted by Japan.
Thanks to the recorder setter Peruth Chemutai [the first Ugandan female athlete ever to win gold at the Olympics]; Joshua Cheptegei and Jacob Kiplimo who won silver and bronze medals respectively, they have ranked Uganda 2nd in Africa and on 36th position overall.
The athletes’ performances at the Olympics have brought enormous opportunities to the Pearl of Africa, including a suggestion to government to prioritize sports, now.
Addressing the media in Kampala on Wednesday, UPC’s head of media and communications, Muzeyi Faizo said: “Would like to congratulate our athletes Joshua Cheptegei, Peruth Chemutai, Jacob Kiplimo and the entire team for winning gold, silver and bronze medals for the country that saw the Uganda Flag flying high in the just concluded Olympic Games 2020, held in Tokyo, Japan. This made Ugandans proud!”
However, he adds that, “our sports industry is not doing well and the athletes are facing a lot of challenges ranging from infrastructure to their welfare which brings us to a very big task as a country on how to improve and sustain such a performance that has taken us a milestone and years to achieve…”
“Since 1962 when UPC—KY Government led by Dr. Apolo Milton Obote as Prime Minister through bilateral cooperation with Convention People Party (CPP) led by H. E. President Kwame Nkrumah, sought a Ghanaian senior advisor on sports and Mr. J.W. Wontumi from Ghana’s Central Organization of Sports was sent to Uganda in 1963 that resulted into the formation of National Council of Sports (NCS) in 1964. This shows us how far we have come with sports as a country!”
In the party manifesto of 2021—2026, UPC recognizes the importance of sports in society as it has a direct relation to fitness, good health and most importantly productivity. “The biggest challenge facing sports in Uganda today is that the government still looks at sport as just a mere recreational activity.”
Citing countries like USA and China, UPC says they have carved sports out as a “unique sector,” and “fully fledged professional industry.” “It is such a lucrative industry that has a lot of value it adds to the people of a nation,” Muzeyi adds.
“The humble contribution that the government allocates to sports, the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA) takes the lion’s share thus leaving other sectors in sports vulnerable!”
“UPC therefore, urges the government to allocate more funds to sports and distributed equitably, increase and develop infrastructure for sports with stadiums and gymnasiums in all regions of Uganda as well as establishing sports academies across the country and combat exploitation of youth in sports. Let us launch a national sports talent search system, so that extraordinary sporting talent is identified at a very young age. Such promising boys and girls should be selected for special training in such academies. This is an attractive career that should be planned for accordingly.”
Importantly, UPC wants the 1964 National Council of Sports (NCS) Act to be amended and create an authority instead of a council as a regulatory body.
“….with a fully fledged professional sports industry, our country will enormously benefit by providing employment to many youth irrespective of their education, export of talent which is a forex earner to the nation, international advertising that will boost tourism, government will have created a wider tax base, and many youths will be engaged in an economic activity that has scientifically been proven to improve the health of participants and a mobilization tool that government can use to reach the youth and entire population to fight crime, drugs abuse and HIV, amongst others.”
Until the nation accepts to take this direction and take steps to achieve it, nothing will stop the bickering currently engulfing sports.