Monday March 5 2018

Make this more than just a trophy tour

The FIFA World Cup trophy arrives in Uganda today, eight years after its last visit with a public viewing opportunity tomorrow at the Lugogo Cricket Oval.

This 18 karat gold that stands at 36.8 centimeters high and weighs 6.1 kilogrammes is competed for by 211 FIFA member associations once every four years.

The World Cup is the most televised sporting event with the 2014 edition in Brazil reaching 3.2 billion viewers globally. On this tour, Kampala joins 91 cities, in 51 countries, to view the iconic diadem that is traversing 92,000 miles (126,000km). Kampala is one of the ‘lucky’ 10 African countries to receive this trophy.

Among the norms is that only sitting presidents and former World Cup winners can touch the trophy which implies that only President Museveni will touch it when it’s here.

There is a bit of global attention that comes with this trophy. On Saturday night, Chinese TV broadcaster, CGTN, on their flagship sports show, MatchPoint, raised the most pertinent question.

After the World Cup trophy is gone, what next? In there lies the complex interrogation on the actual value of this once-every-four-year event beyond the photo opportunities.

Actually, there is little one can point to as a landmark moment from the last trophy tour that preceded the 2010 World Cup held in South Africa.
The FIFA World Cup trophy tour can help boost tourism and Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) should seize the opportunity to showcase the Pearl of Africa Uganda.

Pictures from Lugogo will be streamed all over the world. Sports is powerful in a way that the late South African president Nelson Mandela put it back in 1999.

Besides tourism, this trophy should inspire this nation to go out and play with the intention of improving the sporting culture here.

For young aspiring footballers, everything could be driven by the admiration and appreciation of this trophy. There is little to look up to for them as Ugandan sporting success behaves like roasting popcorn.

Where the next corn is going to pop is not known. To enable this success to be a case of when and not if, the private sector and government should see this trophy as the ultimate goal.

It defines the excellence they preach. Their next task is to invest heavily in the infrastructure that drives sports development in the country.

The thousands of Ugandans might never forget the personal moment when they get within inches of the iconic trophy, neither should those in charge of sports in Uganda.

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