KAMPALA- Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) have always encouraged their clubs to organize more galas. Currently, Dolphins and Silverfin Academy host two events each just like Seals whose League runs quarterly. The federation runs five local galas and superintends over national team engagements. However, as the number of galas increase, so do participants.
The Dolphins Fast and Furious Gala in September 2019 attracted over 600 swimmers. The last leg of the Seals League 2019 and the USF Independence Gala were so highly attended they ended after dusk.
During the USF members’ engagement at their offices in Kololo, the growing numbers raised questions about safety owing to what time galas end from Baseline coach Edris Kato. Stingrays coach Abel Ddamulira, also called on the federation to fully sanction galas “so they can be used as qualification events for some national team engagements” as there are a few selection events.
“Clubs can pay a fee to have their galas sanctioned by USF. USF can then ensure the gala is run at certain standards with its own officials,” Ddamulira suggested.
Dolphins coach Muzafaru Muwanguzi, suggested that to arrest the time factor, the galas can be “standardized according to age groups.”
Muwanguzi argues that some of the exposed swimmers have no problem swimming at night as that is what they do at the major continental galas. “When you categorize the events per age group, you create a way of progression for swimmers and parents,” he argued.
USF competitions secretary Max Kanyerezi called for organizers to “limit clubs to a certain number of entries per race.
Putting qualification times might not work because there are many children doing the same times. Having many swimmers brings more money but events end up becoming a shambles. In the end no one wants to return to a shambolic event.”
Sometimes organizers have resorted to spreading championships across three days to cater for the numbers but that comes with budgetary implications affects school schedules.
“We have over 30 officials per event so an extra day means you are spending an extra Shs8m on officials and other things. But this is a discussion we shall have within the executive committee and at the AGM,” USF president Dr. Donald Rukare, said.
Rukare also urged clubs to observe safeguarding guidelines that protect the dignity and rights of the young swimmers. He also informed them of Fina’s temporary suspension of the Kenya Swimming Federation (KSF) “until proper elections are held in accordance with Fina rules.”
The ban means KSF cannot hold or sanction events and could have some of their athletes participate under the Fina rather than their country’s flag at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. This development is a huge blow to clubs like Dolphins that have been regulars in three galas held under the KSF umbrella over the years.
“We too can get sanctioned if we attend their events,” Rukare said as he advised clubs to seek guidance and clearance from both USF and National Council of Sports, before hosting and going out for events.