My foregoing discussion on Ghost Federations on the NCS list should now drive the sports sector into redefining what a Priority sport should be – in other words, it is a lie that we have priority sports in Uganda.
Being a priority sport means a sporting discipline has been identified as a sport of high interest for the country. It should be that the country has high hopes in a given sport especially when it comes to excellence at major and international competitions, high levels of involvement especially at youth level, potential to mobilize people, potential to economically make sense to the country among others.
By such standard, a given sport would qualify to be a priority sport. But why is it mythical to pretend we have priority sports?
Here is why I strongly believe it is of wrong thinking to the ‘priority sport’ classification for the case of our country.
For a sport to be considered a priority, there must be a deliberate effort to develop and or provide sporting infrastructures such as training facilities, hostels, equipment, competition grounds or stadia, and more. If the government earmarks a sport as a priority, it should then plan, and make practical interventions in the areas of infrastructural support and development.
If you critically analyze our so-called priority sports, save for FUFA maybe, the other so-called priority sports have not seen any deliberate intervention in the direction of infrastructure development, equipment, facilities among others.
Competitiveness – both local and international
Any priority sport must be having many competitions both locally and internationally. It is out of well-organized competitions that we identify, breed, nurture, and keep talents going. But to the contrary, most of our so-called priority sports are thinly competitive in terms of saturation and are merely present not in local neither in foreign games on a regular basis.
So for us to define them as priority sports, we should have seen deliberate investment interventions to the priority Federations to engage in regular competitive games at all levels. This is not the real case for our ‘priority sports’.
When a sport is identified as a priority, it should receive government funds to further develop the Administration related expenses, capacity building projects, and others. These funds should be announced and provided in time to enable the Federations plan and implement accordingly.
Where as the funds are availed, the other parameters remain a myth and not a reality.
Grassroots and other mass development programs
A sport that has been identified as a priority should receive support from the government for its grassroots development programs and entrench the sport to the people’s living systems.
When it comes to our current so-called priority sports Federations the story is far from that reality because the available resources aren’t targeted to such interventions.
Priority sport means being a model sport
A sport to be identified as a priority should be developed and supported to become a model sport and a reference sport as well such that the NON – PRIORITY SPORTS get a lot to learn from the PRIORITY SPORTS, a lot to copy, a lot to reflect on. But this is not the case for most of our priority sports as defined by the NCS.
I think It’s high time we stopped identifying and classifying given sporting activities and their organizations as a priority by only their participation in big international activities.
This is why all the interventions to the so-called priority sports have only focused on the national team’s international games participations, forgetting or not paying attention to the other processes that mother the national teams, how those federations are faring and how all other areas of sports development will be tackled.
You realize that we have NO priority sports in Uganda physically other than them being on PAPER.
So when the NCS thinks of identifying priority sports in the country, it should be at the back of their mind to think about the Expectations of those identified & listed. As priority sports from NCS, it’s out of efforts to the fulfillment of those expectations that a sport benefits out of that classification as a priority sport.
This financial year 2019/20 the budget for sports is approximately 25.5 bn shillings, a priority sport like boxing is planned to share 700m out of the 25.5bn shillings, that’s a share of approximately 3% of the entire sports budget of 25.5bn shillings. The remaining priority sports such as basketball, netball, athletics, and others as identified by the NCS are in close share percentages as boxing is, and that is what we call being a priority sport in Uganda.
When you put my perspective into consideration, the priority sports we have today i.e. boxing, basketball, netball, athletics, and others, you will have to think twice about it.
Therefore, I will tell you that we have NO such a thing as a priority sport in Uganda today.
It is a reality on paper as is the case for so many other things, but a myth in reality.
I, therefore, insist that re-screen federations, identify and classify them on the given set parameters, come up with practical interventions as expected by each of the priority sports, then allow for admission and relegation out of & from the given classifications.
The writer is the president of the Uganda Boxing Federation and AIBA ITO