Is A Sports Caucus Emerging in Parliament?

By ArinaitweRugyendo

On Wednesday, September 21, 2016, a group of Ugandan Members of Parliament spoke some good sports language, the first time in recent history, right on the floor of the august house.

Led by, Ajuri Count MP, Hamson Obua and Makindye West MP, Allan Ssewanyana, the MPs did not only pay tribute to the Uganda Cranes for having qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON). They argued that the country risks continental shame if government doesn’t pick the national team’s bill for the tournament. They also touched on the thorny issue of amending the archaic Sports Act of 1964.

Our aim as we try to build a process for a ‘Football Made in Uganda’ has been to force a serious discussion on the floor of parliament about the poor state of sports in Uganda. We will work hard to ensure it is sustained and just a one off photo-op event!

Every Ugandan knows about our dismal and shameful performance at the Rio Olympics ‘16. Every Ugandan knows how our sportsmen and women live abject shame and rejection by a country they do so much to brand. Everyone knows how our Crested Cranes put up a spirited performance and were within reach of the CECAFA Women’s Tournament trophy, had it not been for poor preparation and limited facilitation. Their counterparts, especially from Kenya, had full state backing including a three star hotel. No wonder they came second in a bitter contest with Tanzania. Ours were sleeping on the ‘BANCO’ brand metallic beds at Njeru.

The woes of the Ugandan sports sector are endless. Even to be at the helm of such a state of affairs can be so frustrating that you feel like quitting only to listen to your heart and say ‘ I gotta do something if nobody is willing to do it.’

The fans have done their best. The private sector has been in a ‘wait and see’ mode hoping government will also jump and take the lead.

Some of the sports administrators have let the games down but there are a few good men who continue to give their whole for sports, sometimes going without pay.

Therefore, the time for government to show the reason for its existence is to show leadership in this sector.

Hon. Obua and team argued that it is traditionally the role of governments to take care of the financial needs of their national teams and not football federations, as it is the case for Uganda.

“Uganda is one of the few countries where issues of national sporting teams are funded by their respective federations. In many countries national teams are supposed to be 100 per cent funded by government or through public private partnerships,” he said.

This consensus around sports that is emerging from parliament is therefore, very well commended. It is only a consensus like this that can sustain this momentum with some of us providing the covert arsenal to force government to act on the floor of parliament.

There are many caucuses in that parliament. Many of them are good. But quite a number are busy championing provincially narrow interests such as Buganda Caucus, Nkore Caucus, Busoga Caucus, Lango Caucus etc etc.

A Sports Caucus is the only vehicle that would project a national character, champion a national agenda and become the voice of the voiceless sportsmen and women who are suffering out there.All MPs of good will should embrace this move and form this caucus as soon as possible.

The writer is the Chairman of the Uganda Premier League

He can be reached on 0752 466 778

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