A former Indomitable Lions star who made a charitable trip to Kampala in 2010 was completely astounded to discover that a nation of 33 million people could not find eleven players who can help the Cranes qualify for the African Nations Cup finals.
He had a point. But qualification is more than just about numbers, otherwise China would be playing at every World Cup. High government interest, investment in sports infrastructure, good governance and high per capita income all play a part if a team is to attain sustained sporting success.
For example, many Ugandans considered it an anathema when the Cranes failed to make it to the ongoing CAN finals. However, to better appreciate our imbroglio, you have to ask yourself how many other spheres of life in which Uganda can claim to be among the top 16 performers in Africa. Democracy? No. Good governance? No.
Infrastructure development? No. Human Development Index? No. Per capita income? No. I was humbled to discover that most of the countries playing in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea are either paragons of good governance or have a very high income per capita. Hosts Equatorial Guinea have Africa’s highest income per capita at $36,000 per annum, while Gabon rank third at $14,500.
Libya and Botswana are joint fourth at $14,000, while Tunisia is eighth at $9,400, and Angola ninth at $8,200. Morocco ($4,800), Ghana ($2,500), Sudan ($2,300), Senegal ($1,900) and Ivory Coast (1,800) are all among the top 25. It is therefore natural that countries that have helped their people achieve a certain level of material well being should be expected to qualify for CAN.Eq. Guinea demonstrated the power of motivation when they won $1m staked by the son of the country’s president.
Botswana, Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal, Zambia and Morocco are also cited in the 2011 Mo Ibrahim governance index as being among the best governed. Not surprisingly, they are all democratically governed with periodical elections. Qualification for Uganda will only become routine once we take such a holistic view to issues.