Saturday February 22 2014

Volleyball needs our attention

Volleyball body head Sadik Nasiwu ought to s

Volleyball body head Sadik Nasiwu ought to spread the game wider. PHOTO: I. KEZAALA 

By Moses Banturaki

Volleyball is a very old game in this country but very little of it exists outside schools. Even amongst schools if you disregard traditional giants like Ndejje or Nabisunsa most, treat the game as a catchment area for those not good enough to make the Football, Cricket or Basketball teams.

In other words volleyball has always been bottled and sold as at worst a third rate sport and at best a leisurely pastime to be enjoyed by amorous old men hiding behind sunglasses as they ogle simply dressed ladies at the shores of Lake Victoria on lazy Sunday afternoons.

This general lack of interest and poor branding is reflected in the low numbers of youth involved in the sport or the general absence of a solid playing league.

It has also infected the main stream media to the extent that reports about fun-runs organized by ‘running-drinking’ clubs will make the news ahead of a World Championship qualifier at which the Lady Cranes is performing not too shabbily, I must add.

And this kind of attention (or lack of) is not a recent occurrence. I would know because way back when my knees could still support my upper body I played the game at the highest level. But even then it was clear that this was a game that could not sustain the interest of a young sportsman outside the school circuit.

This was because there was simply no formal competition outside the occasional KAVC and Makerere Open tournaments.

It all literally ended on the day we wore our gowns and went to Freedom square. Yes some stayed on and people like Muffat and Ndawula are still involved with the game to this day.
But the majority of us were squeezed out by lack of opportunity and quickly moved on which was such a waste because in a way our potential remained un fulfilled.

And here I always refer to Jerry Lwande one half of a particularly devastating strike duo that I was part of. Jerry was 6ft 5” over 100 kilos and had the leap of a gymnast. His palms were as big as a small reading table and they made the ball sing. He had it all, the talent the physic and the attitude.

He could have gone on to become a global star. He is instead a doctor in Namibia who never got the chance to pass on his knowledge of the game.
We always laugh at how little we have to show for our involvement in the game which is basically the craters our spikes dug in the gravel court just below Mary Stuart hall and the puppy-fame we generated by being popular with the girls who watched us from the balconies.

And so that is typically how a lot of talent in this country drains down the gutter. If we are to redeem it we need to start generating interest in other sports especially because not everyone can be a footballer or basket baller. In essence improving the profile of other games like Volley ball widens the scope of getting (and keeping) more youths in sports and all of this without having to talk about the obvious advantages to be derived from a disciplined healthy and young population.