Taekwondo Open wows Katwe ghettos

Wednesday June 5 2019

Take That. Lee Club’s Emma Kaggwa (R) beat Pan

Take That. Lee Club’s Emma Kaggwa (R) beat Pan Africa’s Joshua Lumunya in the senior men’s final. PHOTO BY ABDUL NASSER SSEMUGABI 

By ABDUL NASSER SSEMUGABI

Taekwondo is an indoor sport but the Uganda Taekwondo Open Championship happened on the dusty Katwe football pitch Sunday for promotional reasons.
“We want the ghetto people to first know the sport, before we invite them to Lugogo,” Hussein Kato said, citing the boxing federation, which staged the 2018 National Intermediates Championship here and Bwaise slums.
“Nowadays you see how fans fill the Lugogo arena during boxing events. That’s what we want too.”
That goal is realistic. By kick off at 1:10pm the mats had been scorched by the afternoon sun and youngsters Petra Kuliva and Shadia Abdul-Aziz begun limping. They cooled their feet with water. One put on socks. And only a handful of fans were watching.
But by the time Lee Taekwondo Club’s Emma Kaggwa beat Pan Africa’s Joshua Lumunya to win the senior boy’s fin weight title, the clouds had swallowed the sun and the numbers had already overwhelmed the organisers’ expectations.
The fans were also involved. They bent the rules, crossing the mat to give cash tokens to their favourite athletes during bouts, yelling in delirium.
Eunice Akyenge was one such beneficiary. She wowed everyone by outkicking her male opponent Calvine Ogen in the 5yrs category.
Kato expected over 15 clubs as they prepare for the All-Africa Games in August. Only five turned up. But the ultimate goal - interesting the ghetto crowds - was achieved.

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