KAMPALA. The Barcelona Legends tour to Uganda in December 2015 is one of the most memorable sporting events in recent history.
Patrick Kluivert scored arguably the most gorgeous goal in Namboole during that visit but on the wider scale, his contingent visited Uganda’s tourist sites.
According to Uganda Tourism Association (UTA)’s Boniface Byamukama; “Barcelona, wanted Cranes to visit Spain in 2013 but the deal fell through over finances. Luckily they came here.”
Byamukama also intimated there is a chance Southampton, a football club in England, can be convinced to visit Uganda three years after inquiring – just like Everton went to Tanzania in July.
It is the same spirit Sandra Adong Oder, wants to exploit by “further unlocking Uganda’s sports tourism potential,” through Tuku Africa – her company that promotes travel and sports.
Oder will start promoting her initiative through a partnership, with great long distance runner Haile Gebreselassie, which will see two Ugandan athletes go for the Great Ethiopian Run on November 26 in Addis Ababa.
“The tickets come from Gebreselassie,” Oder confirmed at the launch of Tuku Africa on Tuesday night at Serena Hotel, Kampala.
Haile the great
Gebrselassie, a two-time Olympic and four time world champion in the 10,000m event, won the inaugural men’s Run in Addis.
At the second edition many of Ethiopia’s top long-distance runners competed, with Gebre Gebremariam, Sileshi Sihine and Kenenisa Bekele comprising the men’s top three while Worknesh Kidane and Tirunesh Dibaba dominated the women.
The tradition has continued and Uganda must follow suit. Oder is in discussions with Uganda Athletics Federation to establish two elite runners that can hold Uganda’s flag high against the Kenyans and Ethiopians.
Uganda Wildlife Authority’s business director Steven Masaba promised that their athletics team, that boasts names like Winnie Nanyondo and Ronald Musagala, would send athletes to Addis.
Other Ugandans can make the trip at $1,500 (over Shs5.25m) that comes with; a return air ticket, accommodation for six nights and five days, inland transport and a November 22-24 high altitude training clinic. Uganda Tourism Board (UTB)’s executive director Steven Assimwe, hopes Uganda learns from Ethiopia and the Barcelona Legend’s visit to break sports tourism barriers.
“Sports tourism is the world’s biggest events concept grossing in over millions of dollars. It includes games that bring in big numbers and that is what tourism is about; people who stay and spend.
“In Uganda, tourism is the biggest foreign exchange earner at $1.4bn.
We have tried to grow sports tourism through school outreach programs, golf circuits, Gorillas in the Mist Rally, Safari rallies, marathons. We hope to create synergies with Tuku Africa to expand this portfolio,” Assimwe said.