Sports: Uganda should pick lessons from Egypt

Monday July 29 2019

Uganda's forward Emmanuel Okwi (C) vies for the

Uganda's forward Emmanuel Okwi (C) vies for the ball with Egypt's defender Ahmed Hegazi (R) during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Group A football match between Uganda and Egypt at the Cairo International Stadium in the Egyptian capital on June 30, 2019. AFP PHOTO  

By Editor

In cities of Algiers and Oran, the celebrations should probably still be on nearly a fortnight after Algeria defeated Senegal to lift the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) title in Cairo, Egypt. Many fans, players and officials who graced the occasion will agree that Egypt did a commendable job in hosting the 32nd edition of the continent’s most glorious soccer showpiece.

Egypt was the last-minute option for Confederation of African Football (CAF) after Cameroon failed to meet the criteria to host the first-ever 24-team tournament last year. Egypt pulled off the job in a space of only five months after President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government’s deliberate effort to upgrade about 32 facilities.

Six of those were used with three in the capital Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and Ismailia and all 24 teams had four or five-star hotels for residence. Each was equipped with maximum security and the facilities themselves occupy vast chunks of land. For instance, external space for Cairo International Stadium is probably 15 times more than that of Mandela National Stadium Namboole.

There are a number of lessons for Uganda to pick. First, the government’s direct interest in sports and the vast benchmarks for infrastructure. Can Uganda host Afcon? That is a big question which will take many who are driven in well-guarded convoys or have lavish offices a while to answer.

Fufa president Moses Magogo at one time said Uganda would be in position to host the Afcon (then with 16 teams) only if there was sufficient government support.
Recently, President Museveni offered a token of $1m (Shs3.7b) to Cranes players for their good show in
Egypt and probably that is proof that he is interested in sports. Imagine if a Cranes’ fan cheered on Farouk Miya at an Afcon match in Mbale Municipal, Pece or Kakyeka Stadium. Or a young boxer punching to a World Championship medal at Lugogo. Okay, let’s bring it closer.

Can it be possible for a Cranes’ World Cup qualification match to be played outside Central Uganda?
Uganda is set to host the regional Cecafa championship, but facilities usually bite the plot as it were when heavy rains disrupted business in 2012. It is high time the government implemented its plan for upcountry sports facilities like neighbours Rwanda has done.

The Cecafa Club Championship, won by Uganda’s representatives KCCA, was played across the country in Butare, Huye, Gisenyi and Kigali, like they did for the Chan 2016 showpiece.

When will Uganda reach that standard when basketball, badminton, volleyball and netball compete for the Lugogo Indoor Arena with church crusades and wedding receptions?

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