A group of sports enthusiasts has come together to support budding sports stars by providing training, mentoring and facilitation of sports tutors. Rhinos Athletic Club in conjunction with the UK-based Sports Uganda and Teso Professionals Enterprise Development Organisation (TESO PEDO) are offering sports support to schools in Kumi District, eastern Uganda, under the Satellite Primary Schools Programme (SSP).
According to the Uganda Schools Guide, Kumi District currently has more than 130 schools with 11 nursery schools, 103 primary schools, 14 secondary schools, one technical school and one tertiary institution, from which the Satellite Primary Schools Programme (SSP) hopes to pick the next big name in Ugandan sports.
“Unless we do something on the national level, the Joshua Cheptegei’s of this world will not be done justice. We need more Cheptegeis from young sportsmen and women, they are the future,” says Mr Andrew Byekwaso, the CEO of Sports Uganda.
Sports for development
The programme will use sports as a tool for development, including financial and social transformation, environmental conservation and computer literacy programmes. SSP is based on tracking metrics for gifted athletes, for example 100 metres scores, physical sports tests and other sporting accomplishments.
The goal is to ensure talented youth are tracked and monitored all the way to the national leagues and any obstacles along the way are addressed. In the past there have been cases of students who thrive as athletes in school only to disappear from the scene because no one bothered to monitor their growth.
Imparting vital sports skills in disciplines such as football, rugby, basketball and others is also an objective on top of involving the training and upskilling of teachers, physical education teachers and sports tutors in various districts.
“There is currently limited or no infrastructure that is able to track talented sports children from junior level, tertiary up to national level,” Byekwaso, notes. “Therefore, this translates into high attrition rates of potential gold winning athletes in Uganda as many will fall through the cracks,” he adds.
Earlier in the year, members of the Rhinos Athletic Club travelled to Kumi, to launch the programme. The team of four members included Paul Mukama the head of operations Rhino Athletics Club, Roger Sebina, a rugby coach, Andrew Byekwaso and Herbert Wafula, a rugby coach.
“A youthful population is naturally drawn to sports activities as participants or spectators and Uganda has one of the youngest populations in the world, with about 80 per cent of the population regarded as youth. It is to this end that Rhinos Athletic Club and partners are using sports as a vehicle for other developmental initiatives such as education and social change,” notes Mukama.
The team started the programme at Akadot Primary School, 27kms from Kumi Town, in Mukorongoro Sub county with different activities such as football, rugby and athletics.
The programme attracted pupils from neighbouring schools such as Kamenya Primary School, Kachaboi Primary School, Kadami Primary School and Kaderin Primary School who showed up in big numbers.
“It was a momentous occasion. We were delighted to receive our guests who are focusing on developing sports in the Teso region,” says John Charles Erimu, the head teacher of Akadot Primary School.
The event gave pupils an opportunity to show off their skill in a five aside football game.
Because the facilitators wanted to discover which pupils could think fast and could work well in a team, the game was played on a smaller pitch to ensure the children got as many touches of the ball as possible.
Charles Okwalinga, the CEO of TESO PEDO is confident that the programme will benefit learners all over the country with time and that Akadot is just the beginning point.
“This programme is a national programme. It covers the whole of Uganda, but we are happy to start the programme here in Akadot,” he shares.
RAC and its partners are also committed to Sustainable Development Goal 13 (SDG 13) which is geared towards taking urgent action to combat climate change and its effects.
At the end of the launch, trees were planted in the school compound by children of Akadot Primary School, a representative of the school PTA, Byekwaso on behalf of RAC and Erimu.