On Friday night, sports journalists under their umbrella organisation, Uganda Sports Press Association (Uspa), honoured the best performers from last year.
Uganda Cranes’ goalkeeper Denis Onyango beat off competition from athlete David Emong and rugby’s Philip Wokorach for the top award – the sports personality of the year.
That was the icing sugar to an already sweet cake that saw Onyango lead Uganda back to the Africa Cup of Nations after 39 years and winning the Caf Champions League.
In the latter case, he became the first Ugandan to win the biggest prize in African club football when he did so with his South African side Mamelodi Sundowns last October.
As Onyango was hosted on NTV’s flagship news programme, NTV Tonight on Saturday night, Emong, who missed the Uspa gala, was competing miles away in London.
Emong ‘made up’ for missing out on the Uspa gong by winning Uganda’s first Gold at the World Para Athletics Championship to add to the Silver he won at Paralympics last year.
He is making the T46 1500m race his own. This kind of excellence has become routine, but not expected, for Ugandan sports.
Early this year, Jacob Kiplimo won Uganda’s first Gold at the World Cross Country Championships while netball’s She Cranes won the Africa Netball Championship et al.
However, the cup is not even close to half full. The country still has extreme inadequacies in sports as cited by Uspa president Sabitti Muwanga during the gala.
In his speech directed towards the chief guest, Maj Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, the Special Presidential Advisor on Special Operations, Muwanga laid the eternal cries of this subsector.
He noted that sportsmen and women work in tough conditions with low funding and government still views sports as a non-funded priority even though the sector is a big industry the country is failing to exploit.
Recently, the national boxing team travelled to Congo Brazzaville for a continental tournament where Muzamir Kakande won Gold without many of the basics.
During training, they struggled for meals while Uganda Boxing Federation (UBF) sent them to ‘forests’ without any certainties about their accommodation in a foreign land.
The only reason why Emong is the only known Paralympian today is because this country couldn’t afford to send three others who had accumulated the required qualification standards.
Sports facilities have been routinely replaced by shopping malls as government also looks on while competitors fail to raise funds for events.
This excellence we see today is often a cover up for the numerous flaws that need to be addressed.