Thursday February 6 2014

KCCA turf dilemma tells tale of sports facilities

The Hans Walter Wild Stadium in Germany boasts an artificial turf. KCCA

The Hans Walter Wild Stadium in Germany boasts an artificial turf. KCCA were confirmed beneficiaries of an estimated Shs1.5b artificial turf thanks to Fifa’s Support For Less Privileged Federations development project. NET PHOTO 

By Andrew Mwanguhya

KAMPALA- Now we know KCCA accepted to sacrifice their lush green turf at Lugogo with a huge lump in their throat.

We also know that just about every sports facility in this country fears for the moment it will end up in the hands of some investor.

It is a kind of trepidation KCCA have lived with over the years.
A couple of years ago, the club survived a scare when it almost lost the facility they currently occupy during Nasser Ntege Ssebagala’s reign as Mayor.

Before that, the club lost land to Lugogo Mall stands, although the South African franchise Shoprite compensated them by building them the current KCCA Stadium.

You have to understand their apprehension. Not after witnessing their immediate neighbouring ground being sold to Trustees of Patidar Samaj for a car bond, and the one adjacent Shoprite currently being covered in murrum as another investor sets out to start whatever project is lined up.

And when another sports facility - Kyadongo Rugby Union Football Club (Legends) – is also mortgaged to Solution and Conveyors Company Limited for $1.6m (Shs4.5 billion), one starts to flinch, never mind you being a government institution. KRUFC will get an alternative land in Luzira.

Of all the pitches that once graced the Lugogo sports hub, KCCA FC Stadium, Kyadondo Rugby Club, the tennis club, hockey pitch and the cricket oval are the only ones still intact. But they have all at one time or another fought off possible takeover.

These stories are just a fraction of what sports facilities in other parts of the country are faced with. As long as an investor (strangely, those for sports development never seem to show up) waves any kind of cheque, some land meant for sports is the target.

So, surrounded by all these fears, you would understand KCCA’s rather uncomfortable decision to give up their well-nourished green surface for an artificial turf. This turf also comes with its own set of injuries to players and heat associated baggage.

Last week KCCA – who were offered land by the government in Luzira in order to vacate Lugogo for potential investors - were confirmed beneficiaries of an estimated Shs1.5b artificial turf thanks to Fifa’s Support For Less Privileged Federations development project.

When Fufa approached the club with the offer, they told them that Fifa needed a guarantee that the facility would still be used for football for a foreseeable future, according to club board member Peter Kibazo.

“This guarantee from government would safeguard us,” Kibazo told Daily Monitor. “So the Authority managed to get a guarantee from the Solicitor General that ensures the facility remains a football stadium for the next 15 years.”

They would never trade natural for artificial. But they had to in the circumstances. Now KCCA plan to make further improvements on the stadium in order to fend off any advances after the 15 years have elapsed, and these refurbishments will be catered for in the next budget, according to Kibazo.

The gazzeting of the lost pitches in Lugogo sports hub as recreation facilities by city authorities could save them, yet we cannot keep having a new turf deal.

Sports Club Victoria University have pressed right chords on indiscipline

Rarely have Ugandan football clubs – although some have argued that we have teams, not clubs - shown muscle amidst storms.

Most have oft been left egg-faced by some rabid players, a farce that has cut through to the national team – the Cranes.

I mean, you have a player like Emmanuel Okwi, who has absconded from his club duty for alleged contractual issues walking into the national team without anyone questioning him. Then you have Hassan Wasswa, a leader both at his club and in the national team, signing for a club in Vietnam without permission from KCCA but the same club and the national team welcome him with an embrace like a saint.

But SCVU have raised the bar high in regards to players’ discipline. Coach Morley Byekwaso’s side have impressed more in the way they have dealt with their indisciplined players.

Defenders Savio Kabugo and Denis Guma, in delaying to join SCVU camp ahead of the continental fixture away to DRC’s Don Bosco this weekend, perhaps thought they had ‘arrived’ after the African Nations Championships (Chan) appearance in South Africa.

SCVU acted swiftly by suspending them. Just days later, the man they had appointed second vice captain, Mike Serumaga, was sent packing from the team hotel for sneaking out of the team hotel on Sunday and returning drunk. That is a tough stance; but one with good intentions. Other clubs and the Cranes must borrow a leaf. Both must satiate their own share of responsibility.

Nsimbe’s attitude should drive KCCA

That Sudan’s El Merreikh will start as favourites when they welcome KCCA in the first round preliminary round of the Caf Champions League is not in doubt.
And while the claim that the Sudanese have better players cannot be proved yet, that they had more quality preps is in black and white.

While winning the Mapinduzi Cup was credible preparation by coach George Nsimbe’s side, Merreikh, among others, played against European and World Champions Bayern Munich, losing 2-0, on their European tour.

But KCCA can get inspiration from coach Nsimbe’s mind-set. “We respect them but there is nothing special about them,” said Nsimbe.

“We respect them but we are as good and we showed that in winning Mapinduzi Cup away from home. Yes last time they eliminated us but it was more of off pitch troubles than on the pitch. Now everything is okay on and off the pitch.”

The two sides last met in the 2009 campaign with El Merreikh eliminating KCCA 2-1 on aggregate. Merreikh won 0-1 at Nakivubo, with the Khartoum tie ending 1-1., @TheLoveDre on Twitter