Take charge of sports facilities

Monday September 9 2019


By Editor

Recently, Onduparaka Football Club fans had mini celebrations after Federation of Uganda Football Associations (Fufa) allowed them to host the Uganda Premier League (UPL) matches from their own backyard at the Green Light Stadium.
Onduparaka had beaten the minimum requirements set by the Fufa Clubs Licensing Committee after constructing toilets at their grounds in Arua. Had they not met the terms, the West Nile darling club would have had to shift base 450km south and host matches at the Luzira ground in Kampala.
While Onduparaka survived at the death after permission came days into the new season, other teams like Mbarara City, Bright Stars, Tooro United, Busoga United, Bul FC and Kyetume have not been spared by the stringent licensing regulations. For instance, Mbarara will not play at Kakyeka Stadium but rather will share Luzira with the prisons’ side Maroons. Tooro will not play in their kingdom at Buhinga Stadium (under renovation) in Fort Portal but rather in Buganda Kingdom at Muteesa II Memorial Stadium in Wankulukuku.
On one end, Fufa, who advocate for the development of countrywide football, are shooting themselves in the foot but then again, standards of UPL have got to rise hence the sacrifice.
Fufa tasking clubs to better their facilities remains a huge burden to some like Mbarara who do not own Kakyeka or even Onduparaka as the Green Light ground belongs to the nearby government primary school. Most clubs or teams only rent the grounds they use and have no ownership or stake big enough to enforce improvements.
And to keep top-flight football upcountry, perhaps it is high time regional leaderships revamped their roles in ownership of the grounds.
Currently, land acquisition and ownership remains a tall order and a football club may need about 15 acres and more to build a desired home. That will demand huge resources and time yet the Fufa regulations are already in place.
Yet, back then, local councils, town and district leaderships took charge of the facilities like when Mbale Municipal Council was in charge of the Municipal Stadium during the glory days of Mbale Heroes and Gangama. It should be the same case now.
What if the landlords did more and relieved their UPL tenants of the burden! If they did so and the facilities got better maintenance, how much more would the owners earn from the multi-purpose roles the venues normally take on like hosting events such as concerts, political events, weddings and more? Bottom line, how interested are these leaderships in improving these sports facilities right from the local council to village level?