Kampala. Since Uganda made its debut at the Special Olympic Games in 1995, the country has been scooping medals including being the floor hockey defending champions from the 2017 games held in Austria.
Ms Genevieve Bamwidhukire, the National Director Special Olympics Uganda, said ahead of the 15th edition of the event that will be held in Abu Dhabi from March 14 until March 21, that Uganda is ready.
“We have never gone to these games as participants. We always go out to win,” Bamwidhukire, said. Her hopes lie in the individual sports especially swimming and athletics as the football and volleyball teams selected have low ability levels. Uganda will be represented with a delegation of 46 people including 33 players, the 34th, volleyball player Ashraf Kiwanuka, was injured in a boda-boda accident last week. Ten coaches and three officials will accompany the team. In the 2017 Winter Games which took place in Austria, Uganda fielded 16 athletes and won the floor hockey championship.
Larry Feni, who according to overall coach Samuel Kiggundu is the fastest swimmer on the team posting 33 seconds in 50m freestyle and 19 seconds across the 25m pool in breaststroke, will not disappoint. A select 7-aside women football team from Hoima and a unified volleyball team from Kumi will fight for team honours. Bamwidhukire has a personal connection with Special Olympics. Growing up, she had a child from the neighbourhood who had Down syndrome. “So much work still needs to be done to make the world more inclusive for people with intellectual disabilities,” she said.
The team has been facing some challenges in terms of training facilities and equipment. For the past two weeks, the team has been camping at the dilapidated Lugogo hostel with some funding from the National Council of Sports and the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga.
Africa will have 11 new entrants including: Madagascar, Niger, South Sudan, Chad, Congo, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Cape Verde, Burundi, Mozambique, and Equatorial Guinea. Team Uganda departs on Thursday.