It’s a rule that was in place when the inaugural Zuku University Basketball League tipped off earlier this month but it continues to rattle feathers.
Only players below the age of 25 will be allowed to feature. This was reaffirmed by the National University Sports Federation of Uganda (Nusfu) vice-president Vincent Kisenyi yesterday. He was responding to a question from UCU Mukono coach Nicholas Natuhereza at the launch of the tournament as that rule contradicts other Nusfu games which allow players up to the age of 28.
“It’s important that we comply with this and rules are clear in case of a breach,” Kisenyi said.
Fuba president Ambrose Tashobya would help the federation to tap and nurture talent: “This tournament is meant to give young players who leave high school at the age of 18 but are not yet ready to compete in the national league.”
This rule bars many masters’ students from playing for their respective universities.
A total of 10 universities and 18 teams – both male and female – are taking part since March 1 in the tournament that is a copy and paste from Kenya where it has had a phenomenal success.
Fuba are throwing their weight behind it despite the logistical nightmare as they have to provide technical officials for the league at the same time. Teams will also have an incentive of sharing Shs11m when they get to the playoffs and finals that will also be aired live by the pay television company – Zuku.
In the meantime, they will show only highlights on a weekly magazine show – Baqe. For Nusfu, this is a huge step forward besides the annual university games.
Not many Nusfu events are backed with this kind of financial muscle as Zuku will. Add television and you know it feels like a first cut.
Michael Finley of Miles and Associates, the company running the tournament, and Jared Mokobo, the Zuku TV country sales manager spoke with optimism about the future of the programme.
“Going forward, we want this to be a league for Africa not just Uganda, Kenya or Tanzania, the best teams and players should be able to compete against each other,” Finley said. KIU, MUST and Nkumba opted not to feature.