Promise of Olympic-size pool leaves USF in a bind

Monday March 01 2021
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Uganda Swimming Federation says it needs $6.5m (about Shs25b) to construct an Olympic-size pool at Namboole stadium. PHOTO/COURTESY.

By Makhtum Muziransa

Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) have a task to deliver on the promise of an Olympic-size pool after they released architectural plans for the same this week.

The federation has forever lacked a home and now need $6.5m (Shs25b) to make this happen at Mandela National Stadium, Namboole, within two years of commencement of construction.

According to the plan, USF will have a 50 metre pool and accompanying 50 metre warming pool and a diving section to introduce diving to their activities.

USF have made this promise before. In 2017, the federation were convinced the plan would come to fruition after they ‘successfully’ lobbied the Hungarian government during the World Swimming Championships in Budapest.

“We concluded discussions with the Hungarian ministry of sports but they needed our Ministry of Education and Sports plus the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to commit our government to this initiative and we could not have that in time,” USF president Moses Mwase said.

As Uganda dragged on with its red-tape, Hungary changed their sports minister, burying the goodwill in the process.

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Four years later, USF feel they are back on course as the Minister of Education and Sports, Ms Janet Museveni, has shown interest in the project that intends to serve the swimming fraternity, other national teams for conditioning, the general public, government and other aquatic sport participating nations.

The federation is fully engaged with the technical team tasked by Sports minister Hamson Obua to revive Namboole and they have been “alerted that the Cabinet paper on this (revival) has the pool included.”

USF is also headed for an elective assembly on March 13, so the current executive members, the majority of whom are seeking re-election, could be accused of politicking. But they are also whetting the appetite of a fraternity that has waited for a home for long.

“We have to apply diplomatic pressure and keep knocking on the minister’s door till we have closure of this project,” Mwase said.
“I am more concerned about doing all that we can and hope something good comes out of this rather than worry and do nothing.”

Fundraising benchmark
Swimming is considered a sport for those that can afford the luxury. So why not get some of their members to support the project?

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A dream look: An artistic impression of the planned pool at Namboole stadium that, if completed, will see USF adding diving to its menu. PHOTO/COURTESY.

Mwase said: “While we believe that there is always goodwill from people especially for public projects, you can’t do etofali (read fundraising) from nothing.
“We expect the government to fund up to 80 percent of the project then we can consider fundraising. Besides, there are issues to consider about ownership of the facility, its economy and sustenance.”

Usually government, as seen with facilities at the National Council of Sports complex in Lugogo, has sought to make economic gains – at times at the expense of sport – by hiring them out for non-sporting activities.
“There is a commercial aspect to this project and there are concerns about its management but that is why we are getting involved early. However, we can’t go far before the baby is delivered. Let us first lock things in,” Mwase added.

mmuziransa@ug.nationmedia.com

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