Hamson Obua’s shake-up of National Council of Sports has been met with warm approval and admiration. Reshuffles by their very nature are meant to be visceral demonstrations of where authority lies, and the one we witnessed on Friday will not go down as an exception. In asking Donald Rukare to step into Bosco Onyik’s shoes, Obua has showed an indication to put a personal stamp on the sports sub sector he only recently inherited.
The National Council of Sports or NCS is statutorily obligated to run the rule over sports federations (fifty-one of them) in Uganda. The statutory organ has always had something of a dying gasp of an old order since it owes its existence to a 1964 act. Talk of resetting NCS’s trajectory has never been in scant supply. Competing interests have, however, run any chance of a profound change into the ground.
Rukare, the holder of a PhD in law, has the legal smarts to grasp the hidden contours that have stopped NCS from embodying a 21st century mindset. A lot more will definitely have to be done to ensure that a sense of energy and accomplishment filters back into Ugandan sport via NCS. The aloofness that oozed out of the previous upper echelons of NCS’s hierarchal systems for one tore a lid off a Pandora’s box, driving a wedge between the statutory organ and Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC).
That Rukare is part of the furniture at UOC means that a deep-seated rift that only added to a feeling of loss can finally be spoken of in the past tense. There is a strong belief that — unlike his predecessor — Rukare will have a fine instinct for popular feelings in the sports sub sector. That he will open communication lines and not disappear into ether when needed most.
As the UOC president William Blick glowingly tweeted, Ugandan sport could be on the cusp of “a new era.” But caution and a healthy scepticism should continue to be a default position. The youthful exuberance in the sports sub sector is most welcome. Whether the ‘fresh faces’ will tick boxes of not just performance but also transparency and accountability remains to be seen.