Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) is considering having 30 athletes at the Tokyo Olympics come July but more importantly, setting up its own home in earnest.
The coronavirus pandemic had UAF’s hands tied over the last one year but they are keen on the latter.
“In all years, we have been tenants but now in our strategic plan and budget, we want to get our own home like Fufa [football federation] has. This is very important,” said UAF’s assistant general secretary Apollo Musherure during their Annual General Meeting (AGM) at Lugogo Indoor Arena at the weekend.
UAF failed to roll off their 2021 competition calendar a fortnight ago due unavailability of a venue for the first National Track and Field Trials as Namboole stadium is currently a Covid-19 isolation facility, while Kyambogo was a tally centre for the Electoral Commission.
The AGM set aside Shs771m as expected expenditure for that facility – including a UAF home, construction and renovation of the training camp.
UAF also plans to spend Shs592m of their Shs3.73b budget to host the East Africa Athletics Youth Championships in April but the unavailability of Namboole could be a big blow.
“Namboole is the only national tartan track we have now. We are going to continue engaging the government because they are also interested,” said UAF president Dominic Otuchet.
“When these athletes excel, it is this country that is actually marketed. Out there, people may not know Dominic Otuchet but they know Uganda. We are going to engage the government to enable us help our athletes have training and competition opportunities.”
“Right now, we are fighting Covid-19. If Namboole is not open by that time, we have no option but to cancel it,” noted the federation’s publicist Namayo Mawerere.
The second biggest part of the budget that UAF expects to spend is to raise numbers and partake in the Tokyo Olympics. This, Shs537m, UAF hopes to raise 30 individuals over track and field to Japan.
Currently, only 23 runners most notably Stephen Kiprotich, Joshua Cheptegei, Jacob Kiplimo, Halimah Nakaayi and Winnie Nanyondo have qualified.
“Our target is to have 30 athletes qualify. The budget will help us enable those who have not yet qualified to qualify. Our focus is on the Olympics,” remarked Otuchet.
At the 2016 edition in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, 19 runners took part with 12 being male.
“There are other events like the Africa Senior Championships in Algeria to come which will give us opportunities to qualify. Our already excellent athletes will be entered in the Diamond League and Continental Tour,” he added.
To fund the budget, UAF hopes for Shs2b from the government, Shs170m from Uganda Olympic Committee, Shs444m from the Tokyo Games and about Shs109m from the Confederation of Africa Athletics, sponsors among others.