President Yoweri Museveni has said that it is high time government began to invest significantly in the sports sector “which touches a big fraction of the population” and “has become a source of livelihood for many”.
The President made the statement on Tuesday while meeting the national teams for football and netball. He hosted the Uganda Cranes and She Cranes to a luncheon at his country home in Rwakitura.
Museveni pledged that government will increase support to the sports sector, especially by putting in place the necessary infrastructure that meets international standards.
“Government has been pre-occupied and dedicated most of her resources to crucial areas of the economy such as the road and electricity sectors,” the President said, adding that the time was ripe to give a bigger budget to the sports sector in Uganda.
He said that sports is increasingly becoming a source of income for many young people.
“We have to invest in sports because it touches majority of Ugandans. We have 9.5 million children in primary, 2.5 million in secondary and about one million in institutions of higher learning and that is a big percentage of our population that can’t be ignored,” the President further stated.
Contrary to how games and sports have previously been perceived (as activities for fitness and entertainment), Museveni acknowledged that the sector “has now become a big source of employment and income thus deserving serious attention”.
He tasked the Ministry mandated to develop sports in the country to embark on a process of identifying talent from a number of disciplines and ensure that government nurtures them.
The President proposed that once identified, the sportsmen and women should be attached to government departments such as the army, the police and prisons where they can easily be facilitated, given training time and facilities.
He expressed concern over what he called an “ad hoc” style of operation that the two national teams have become accustomed to whenever they need financial resources.
“Let us stop this ad hocing. And i am really going to be very angry with anybody next time if i hear there is still ad hocing,” Museveni said.
He likened the last minute planning in the sports sector to people who fail to gather firewood in advance, waiting for the moment when they are set to cook.
For many years, the Cranes and other national sports teams have been hit by perennial inefficiencies in funding, often times relying on good Samaritans and last minute donations especially for their trips abroad.
Museveni congratulated the Uganda Cranes for finishing 8th in Africa in the just concluded World Cup qualifiers and the She Cranes who are currently ranked 7th in the world.
He later flagged-off the Cranes for the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) competition in Morocco.
Earlier, the FUFA President, Eng Moses Magogo and the President of the Uganda Netball Federation, Susan Anek had lobbied government for better sports facilities and more efforts in nurturing talent.
At the same event, both the President and the Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni met for the first time the newly appointed coach for the national football team, Sébastien Desabre a week after he took on the task.
The Cranes were dressed casually in their collared yellow t-shirts and track pants while the She Cranes were clad in yellow t-shirts and similar coloured jackets along with red track pants.
The luncheon was characterized by entertainment from a dance troupe.
It was also attended by Sports Minister, Charles Bakkabulindi, State Minister for Youths and Children Affairs who is also Third Vice President for FUFA, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sam Kutesa.