Uganda will send a half-baked team to next month’s Commonwealth Games due to lack of funds to facilitate training.
It emerged yesterday that federations have not received a penny from government to prepare the teams with the Games getting underway on July 23 in Glasgow, Scotland. Yet Sports Commissioner Omara Apita revealed government released Shs254m of the Shs400m budgeted funds months ago to National Council of Sports (NCS) for all the federations to have their athletes in camp.
“It is sad. It is an embarrassing situation,” Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) president William Blick said during a meeting organised to update the media about the team’s preparations.
During the meeting at Lugogo, federation heads turned guns on NCS, accusing the government implementation body of frustrating their efforts to prepare for the Games in which Uganda has previously performed impressively.
“What exactly is going on? We were asked to submit our accounts and promised that the money would be wired soon but up to now there is nothing. The Games are just three weeks away and you expect us to be ready,” John Bosco Tamwesigire, the Uganda Squash and Rackets Association (USRA) chairman, complained.
Uganda Rugby Union (URU) country manager Jacob Bukenya added to Tamwesigire’s voice of discontent, saying; “I am planning to get a loan from a money shark this afternoon to enable us take our team to Nairobi for a preparatory tournament. Please give me a go ahead if you are sure the money is coming soon.”
NCS assistant general secretary Nicholas Muramagi told the meeting they were in the process of disbursing the money to federations but his explanations were met with murmurs.
“Some federations have not fulfilled what we asked them to do. We have already supported Paralympics and boxing. The others will get their money soon,” Muramagi said without giving the timeline on when the money would be disbursed.
“Besides, this is very small money we are taking about. Federations should have other sources of funding. A serious federation can’t rely on Shs2million or Shs3million to prepare a team,” he added.
Uganda is sending a 98-man contingent to the Glasgow showpiece with the first batch leaving on July 13. These include 62 sportsmen, 20 coaches, 10 mission staff and three education and sports officials.
NCS were also tasked to explain why they gave the Paralympic body Shs10m yet they are preparing only one athlete for the trip. Boxing, with more than 10 boxers in camp, received Shs2m.
“Even if we get the money now, it won’t be of much help because we are out of time for training. The system must improve going forward,” Ann Mungoma, the shooting federation administrator, stated.
Norah Nassimbwa, President Museveni’s private assistant in charge of sports, who also attended the meeting, sympathised with sportsmen for the difficulties they are facing in training.
Athletics – 18
Paralympics – 1
Badminton – 4
Boxing – 5
Cycling – 3
Rugby – 12
Shooting – 3
Squash – 3
Swimming – 3
Table tennis – 5
Weightlifting - 5