UHA, NCS rift deepens as latter take control

Thursday January 30 2020

Brewing Rift. UHA’s already fragile

Brewing Rift. UHA’s already fragile relationship with NCS will be tested even further by the latter’s decision to take control of the management of astro-turf grounds in Lugogo. The decision is informed by the pressure to generate revenue exceeding Shs1bn from the facilities inside Lugogo Sports Complex annually. PHOTO BY ISMAIL KEZAALA 

By MAKHTUM MUZIRANSA

Uganda Hockey Association (UHA)’s executive cannot guarantee that their sport will be priority as National Council of Sports (NCS) “take over management, maintenance of the synthetic pitch at Lugogo Sports Complex.”

NCS’s assistant general secretary (administration) Tito Kayigwa, in a letter dated January 14 and, stated that the new development that comes into force immediately “implies that all sports and non-sporting activities to be held on the hockey pitch will take place with our express authorisation.”

The background
This follows another letter from December 4, 2019 that notified UHA, perhaps belatedly, of NCS’s decision not to extend an agreement between the two signed on November 14, 2004 to guide on the construction, management, use and maintenance of the then new synthetic hockey pitch which was valued at $200,000 (Shs500m).

Former chairman Chris James signed on behalf of UHA while Jasper Aligawesa, the NCS general secretary then, signed on behalf of the landlords ahead of the installation.

In the said agreement, NCS would retain ownership of the pitch and to make it available, at no cost, to UHA – who had secured the astro from their international body – for a period of 15 years. This would also be automatically prolonged for another 12 years unless the regulatory body informed UHA otherwise before January 1, 2018.

With the two gentlemen moving on, the fragile relationship between the two bodies seems to have crumbled even further especially after NCS failed to support UHA’s Shs350m budget to take the national teams for the Africa Olympic qualifiers in South Africa last year.

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The cost
In the past, UHA have expressed frustration with NCS who have stopped them from fencing-off the pitch among other things. UHA reportedly lost Shs5m about three years ago when such a deal to fence off the pitch was stopped by NCS.

Going forward, UHA will not only have to share their calendar with fixtures attached to NCS, but also seek permission in advance to use the grounds. UHA president Lydia Dhamuzungu and her executive must also sign and comply with NCS’s facility user guide that spells out the terms and conditions for use of the facility.

“You see even when we were in control, NCS still hired out the facility at will and hardly shared the money collected,” Dhamuzungu told Daily Monitor, expressing her doubts of NCS’s promise in the letter to ensure UHA’s activities will be given priority.

“We cannot guarantee right now that we will be a priority yet we have been seeking to host a couple of continental tournaments. However, I will sit with the rest of the executive to see a way forward.” Last year, UHA also faulted NCS for hiring out the pitch for the East Africa
Inter-Parliamentary Games – a decision that led to the 2019 hockey league being completed this year.

Pressure to make money
NCS, on their part argue that they are under pressure to generate monies from all facilities on the 16 acres of the sports complex in Lugogo.

“Anyone who wants to use the facilities must share their calendars early to allow us plan for them to find them available.

Under the law, NCS has to generate money from these facilities in excess of Shs1bn every financial year. If we fall short of that, it is loss of revenue for government for which we become liable,” NCS head of corporate affairs Ismail Dhakaba Kigongo, said.

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