Opinion

Moses Muhangi: A case of ghost Federations and national sport

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When I opened up the debate on ghost federations in NCS, I anticipated that our regulators would, consider an in-house check on their stock.

Maybe I was misunderstood and probably would need to highlight what I believe would constitute a sport of National semblance and appeal before we go into the ‘mandatory role of recognition’ by NCS.

For us to have a valid debate, we must first separate emotion from logic. We should be able to have it in mind that there are different approaches to this concern which are both theoretic/academic and realistic/practical approach.

If you choose to go theoretic/academic, one will refer you to the mandate of NCS in as far as promoting and developing sport is concerned. However, this approach is silent about the physical situation or what is on existing on ground.

But when you choose to be realistic, then you will have a practical view of what am referring to here. For Instance, get the list of the 52 Federations as listed on paper, traverse the countryside, district by district, and then show us how many of these sports Federations you will find. Your guess will be just as good as mine!

Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to hear from the NCS Chairman, Dr. Donald Rukare on different media stations whose discussion has in a way partly confirmed my doubts about being misunderstood.

In most of his submissions, he specifically gave an example of Federations developing at different levels and used the analogy of a new district sitting with old districts in the district planning meeting.

I am not opposed to that but I would wish to remind the Chairman that for an area to qualify as a District it ‘MUST’ have some minimum requirements in place that qualify it for the status of a District among other things being the physical and geographical location.

Let me now drive my argument home;

Eligibility for recognition by NCS

Under S.2 of the NCS Act 1964, the National Council has a duty to develop promote and control all forms of sports in addition to other functions prescribed therein.

However, guided by NCS Regulations 2014, Regn 4(2) specifically bars NCS from registration of national sports associations that do not meet the requirements in 3, 5, 6, 7 & 8.

Regn 3(2) defines a National Federation/Association to be an organization promoting and supervising a particular sport throughout the country and; Regn 3(3) sets the parameters including the nature of the sport, the popularity of the sport, presence of facilities to play the sport and plan of the association to promote the sport.

If we were to follow those parameters and without pointing at any particular Federation, how many of the associations under the NCS list qualify for the set provisions?

What is the set minimum of national participation and coverage of a sport before it is recognized by NCS – is it a case of replicating a sport that is elsewhere and submit my paperwork for recognition or a factual availability of the sport before recognition by NCS?

If such legal provisions are not satisfied then enlisting such a sport would ideally be registering a ‘Ghost’ entity. Which takes me to my second point:

National Impact and significance of the Sport

We are currently squabbling over budgetary allocations and in the face of sports funding by the state but has our regulator realized that it’s high time to pick on sports that impact the nation from the basic social setting – community level to international achievements.

Locally if the primary role of the NCS is to develop sports, has it considered the factual existence of the various sports and physical participation? It may be a club game that requires few participants but even then what is its target audience? Board games like chess are common in schools, so anyone can appreciate that as an audience with geographical coverage as schools. Such sport/game also rolls out to the general community.

How many of the Federations hold that semblance? In a sport like Boxing, whether there is a gym or not, you will find Youths in the outskirts practicing the art & skill. The benefits of boxing are numerous ranging from personal health to a thriving career and international achievements for the country.

Hosting one regional boxing event would mean income to participants like coaches, volunteers, etc and consequently revenue from guests. In the recent National Boxing Championships, we attracted thousands of revelers who spent millions on service providers. How many of the federations on the NCS list have such capacity, if not are we not holding Ghost federations?

I will, therefore, conclude by insisting that a check & shake-up of the NCS list better be done as soon as yesterday. Much as Regn 20(1) & (2) 2014 requires re-application of existing National Federations/Associations to for registration, were there checks to see that such bodies met the eligibility requirements?

Is it too late to conduct a re-screening exercise? The right time is actually now when sports activities are on the low and a funding policy is on the table in the wake of a national budget cut.

I notwithstanding have a strong belief that the sports leadership headed by Hon. Minister Janet Museveni and Hon. Hamson Denis Obua and subsequently, the Chairman, Dr. Don Rukare, and the entire NCS board take this matter seriously.

The writer is the president of the Uganda Boxing Federation and AIBA ITO


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