Drama ensued during the Total E&P Uganda mini league knockout game when the Nwoya District chairperson, Mr Patrick Okello Oryema, ordered the ongoing match to stop, 20 minutes into the game.
Okello claimed they could not allow the games or mini league to continue until Total E&P Uganda allows the local business community to offer necessary services during the tournament.
The first knock-out stage match was happening in Purongo Primary School, Purongo Sub County Nwoya District.
Okello asked the Total E&P Uganda officials to leave the pitch immediately.
"You can't hire tents, public address systems and mineral water from other districts as if our local business persons can’t offer those services," Mr Okello said.
“Unless you (Total E&P Uganda) are willing to allow our local persons to be the ones to offer these services, the mini league won't continue in Nwoya because that is our stand as leaders," he added.
The halting of the match forced the locals to jump in with mixed reactions. Some charged spectators shouted at the chairperson and accused him of bringing politics into football. The police officers on the ground had to calm them down.
Total E&P Uganda officials immediately left the football pitch as spectators continued arguing over the decision taken by the leaders.
Total E&P Uganda Public Relations Coordinator Christopher Ocowun described the clashes as unfortunate adding that the Nwoya leaders’ reaction was uncalled for, given the fact the match was already ongoing.
"We have taken note of the concern raised by the LC5 Chairman and plan to meet them as soon as possible to resolve the difference amicably," Mr Ocowun said.
He added: "We have been working together for four years and would love to continue working jointly to promote talent development in Nwoya as part of our corporate social responsibility."
One of the spectators Mr Denis Okwerajok, 48, a resident of Wi Anono lauded the leaders for fighting for them, however he said they should have waited for the match to end.
“His action as a leader was childish and too political because as a leader you should show people the best way of handling differences; he chose rude means which depicts bad leadership from Nwoya District in the eyes of investors organising the football tournament,” Mr Okwerajok said, adding, “I only pray Total comes back after agreeing with the leaders because from the look on their faces, they were annoyed and I’m scared they may cancel the tournament then the youth lose,” he added.
However James Oloya another spectator said the decision taken by chairperson was right.
“We have many public address systems, tents and business persons who can supply mineral water and offer services to the expectation of Total,” Mr Oloya said.
Mr Godfrey Obalim, the Lisborn FC coach said the political leaders want to use the mini league for political gain.
"The halting of this match is politically motivated because in the past three editions we have been competing in this league without any problem and with support of these leaders. How is it possible that the district sports officer okayed it, along with other leaders and the chairman is against it?" he asked.
The 4th Edition of Mini League was organised by Total E&P Uganda in a bid to foster interaction with the communities while promoting and strengthening relations with the different stakeholders within Tilenga project areas, besides promoting local talent and development of the youth.