The raging debate today is how we shall live in the post-Covid era amid disruptions to business, education, and all our normal routines.
Sports is one area that has also taken an immense hit. Many events have been cancelled as the government instituted a lockdown on many sectors, sports inclusive.
Consequently, some sports have not had meaningful competitions locally for two years. Uganda’s biggest sport, football, has survived the most severe of the lockdown.
The national teams and the three top tier leagues for both men and women were. However, the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (Fufa) opted against having the lower division leagues.
Those regional and district leagues are the foundation upon which football is built here. They have not held any competitions for two years and it’s possible that many will not return.
Remember, most of the sport here is amateur and voluntary. Over the past one month, following the success of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, volleyball and basketball raised their own bar.
The men’s national volleyball team finished fifth at the Africa Nations Championships while their basketball counterparts, Silverbacks, came sixth at the Fiba Afrobasket.
Both are monumental successes for sports that are not yet able to penetrate every corner of this country. However, underneath this success lies a black hole. Neither has had a league for two years now.
Only the national team players are exempted from the vagaries of inactivity as seen with the elite athletes like Joshua Cheptegei whose success has little to do with what happens inside Uganda’s borders.
This implies that no new talent is being nurtured and some players are finding other ways to live outside of sports. The short term effects are visible and tough to mitigate.
What about the medium and long term solution which should be the preoccupation of the National Council of Sports (NCS) and its member federations?
Take an example of basketball. The federation was willing to resume their truncated season, but on condition that at least eight teams confirmed readiness to take part.
The teams would then be required to part with Shs600, 000 each to help in running the remainder of the campaign.
Only five men’s teams had shown interest in the resumption of the season. What if these teams do not return to the sport post-lockdown? This is where the thought process should start.
Yes, this is a difficult time. However, it is not right to rest on our laurels and just hope for the best whenever normalcy returns.