Big steps for woodball as Uganda begins production of equipment
Posted Saturday, October 12 2013 at 01:00
Very soon, Uganda will start producing sports equipment.
Surprisingly, that equipment is for a sport that has been played in Uganda for less than 10 years – woodball. “Uganda is going to be the supplier of woodball equipment for all African countries,” Uganda Woodball Federation (UWbF) president Paul Mark Kayongo told Saturday Monitor in an interview early this week.
UWbF, hitherto importing playing gear from Chinese Taipei, recently received woodball manufacturing equipment from the International Woodball Federation (IWbF).
The donated machines have already been installed at Ndejje University and the production plant should be a beehive of activity in the coming months. “This is a milestone for the game in Uganda,” Kayongo, a pioneer of the sport in the country, said. He added: “If we start producing equipment, we’ll be able to generate reasonable income and develop the game further.”
When production of the gear, which includes; mallets, rubber caps, balls and gates starts, the first 200 sets will be donated to selected African countries, according to Kayongo.
“The donation is intended to encourage other countries to put more effort in developing the sport. But after that, whoever will be in need of equipment has to buy from Uganda,” added Kayongo. Each set goes for about Shs400,000.
“We are going to set up a store at the federation offices where all those interested in playing can purchase the kit,” Kayongo revealed at the federation’s new offices along Balintuma Road in Kampala.
The building where UWbF offices are housed will leave some older federations in shame. It’s magnificent.
“Ndejje University has donated this building to the federation,” he said. “They have been with us since we started. They want to see us grow.” The latest are few of many developments UWbF has pulled off since the game was introduced to Uganda in 2005. Unfortunately, says Kayongo, one of the two internationally certified referees in Uganda, several of the feats have passed unnoticed. “The problem in Uganda is that people think that a good sport must be an old sport,” he remarked, “Ugandans only care about football and the like. But woodball is a very nice game.
It has some semblance with golf but is cheaper to play.” In the past many months, UWbF has been running aggressive campaigns targeting the corporate class.
Several corporate tournaments have been staged and others, including this weekend’s National Open at Nakawa, are lined up to promote the sport countrywide.
“We need to get a striking ground for the sport,” Kayongo said. “We are sure woodball can become a major sport in Uganda.” Luweero, Wakiso, Kampala, Jinja, Mbarara, Gulu and Entebbe are some of the districts that have embraced the game.
“When we started out, our aim was to take the game to the grassroots and we have achieved that,” Kayongo revealed. At the beginning, woodball was a university sport in Uganda. “Ndejje University were the pioneers,” Kayongo offered, “The university made it mandatory for all sports education students. The students did it as one of their examinable papers.
These student teachers moved around the country and were able to spread the sport in different schools. The involvement of Ndejje gave us good mileage.” Ndejje’s involvement attracted the attention of other universities in Uganda and the region. Currently, the game is played at national and regional university games.
In 2010, the country won her first international medals after finishing third overall at the World University Woodball Championship held here.
Andrew Eteru and Saidi Barigeya were the heroes for Uganda as they scooped bronze in the men’s doubles. Chinese Taipei won ahead of Hong Kong. The same year, Sophie Namuddu and Shamusa Nantenge got silver in the ladies doubles for the country to rank second behind Chinese Taipei in the inaugural Uganda International Open. Since then, accolades have continued to flood in the country.
In 2012, Collins Ssemanda grabbed silver at the Taiwan Open and Lillian Zawedde returned with bronze from the Hong Kong Open early this year, further buttressing Uganda’s prowess.
While UWbF have not received many plaudits locally, their successes are not going unnoticed internationally.
There is so much interest in Uganda’s success story in the outside world which probably explains why Japan Television are doing a live broadcast of the National Open ending tomorrow at Mubs.
About woodball gear
All the equipment is made of wood.
According to John Baptist Kateregga, the local woodball federation administrator, mahogany trees produce the best wood for the playing gear.
A full kit including a mallet, ball and gates, goes for about $150.
UWbF hope to sell at a lower price when production starts at Ndejje.
History of Woodball
Woodball was invented in 1990 by Mr. Ming-Hui Weng from Taipei City.
Uganda was the first African country to embrace the game.
Paul Mark Kayongo and Peninah Kabenge are the only Ugandan coaches certified by the international body. They are also the pioneers of the game in the country.