Kampala- The Beach Woodball World Cup 2019 got underway in spectacular style by making a bold statement of Uganda’s growing sporting acclaim at Spenah Beach in Entebbe.
There were more than 100 athletes from 16 countries, inside the gated venue marking the first time the biennial world games were being held in Africa. The first edition was held in Hong Kong in 2017.
The games was opened by Mary Karooro Okurut, the Cabinet Minister in Charge of General Duties in the Office of the Prime Minister, yesterday.
She was representing the First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni.
“We are proud of woodball’s achievement for gaining a special status and be able to host the Beach World Cup in Uganda,” the First Lady noted in a written speech.
Minister of State for Sports Charles Bakkabulindi said the games was a realisation of the vision of the NRM leadership.
“It’s magical to see woodball grow so fast in just 10 years. I was there when they received the first donation of equipment and now we have the World Cup. This is part of government efforts to avail our youths opportunities,” he said.
Woodball was introduced in Uganda by Paul Mark Kayongo, the current president of the governing body, in 2008.
Joel Adupa, who is among the senior players on the team, said it was time to use home advantage in their favour. “We can be champions at the end because we have trained very hard.”
Even before these inspirational words and start of the event, there was an air of optimism as the athletes were presented to the excited crowd enjoying the cool sea breeze of Lake Victoria, the world’s biggest fresh water lake.
The pre-show started with strong performances from dance troupes celebrating Uganda’s diverse culture.
Motherwell Junior School Mutungo later performed the woodball anthem, another first from the sport. The group put on a spectacular performance with their dances adapted from the anthem whose lyrics were put to life by gospel artiste Keeno Musanyusa.
Later, the dignitaries including the Chinese and Japanese ambassadors to Uganda and officials from the National Council of Sports took the ‘I was there moment’ by teeing off the games.
From today until the end on Thursday, it will be a celebration of sportsmanship, grit and determination.
Participants will battle for honours in singles and doubles while two other events; the African and Ugandan Open will be held during the three-in-one championship.
3. Chinese Taipei (defending champions)
5. Hong Kong
14. South Sudan 15. Tanzania