Time to review sports rewards

Monday October 21 2019

Halimah Nakaayi joins Dorcus Inzikuru as

Halimah Nakaayi joins Dorcus Inzikuru as Uganda’s second female gold medallist at the World Championships. Courtesy Photo 

By Editor

There are a number of things that take precedent before sports comes to the mind of an ordinary Ugandan.
In an environment heavily chuffed with politics and tragedy, one’s well-being cantred around what to eat, money in the pocket to move, Internet data and a few friends will come before thinking of sports.

So when Farouk Miya strikes for his club Konyaspor in the Turkish Super Lig, Fufa unveils a new Cranes’ coach in Johnny McKinstry or Halimah Nakaayi shows up on television for a race, then the country is reminded about sport.

The nation is even over the moon when Nakaayi wins the 800m gold and Joshua Cheptegei adds more delight with the men’s 10000m title at the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar.

Less than a fortnight after his triumph in Doha, Cheptegei was nominated with 10 others for the IAAF Male Athlete of the Year Award early last week.

Early this week, Cheptegei was hosted by the senior presidential advisor on special operations, Lt Gen Muhoozi Kainerugaba, and he offered Shs100m to help in completing his murram track.
However, the reward system appears to be selective. It is perhaps time the government led by President Museveni rethought it all.

After Moses Kipsiro claimed a double at 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, India, Mr Museveni then announced a monthly stipend for each medallist; Shs3m for a gold, Shs2m for a silver and Shs1m for a bronze to assist athletes in training. However, that has not happened since 2015.
When Cheptegei and Stella Chesang won gold in Australia, Mr Museveni promised each a house. Since, nothing has come to fruition.

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How about if the President had maintained stipends instead of promises and generally did more, like improving sports facilities!

The Uganda Cranes shared $1m (Shs3.7b) from the President after qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations last November, but the She Cranes at the Netball World Cup didn’t attain similar attention.

So whereas Cheptegei got something from Lt Gen Muhoozi, how about Nakaayi who became the country’s first-ever middle-distance world title?

A systematised reward process nullifies cases of inequality among sporting talents we have. What Denis Onyango can do, Bomber Isaac Masembe can do!

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