Word in for para-athletes as CWGs earn British nod

Packing  A Punch. Female pugilist Teddy Nakimuli (L) gives British High Commission’s Andrew Ockenden a crash course in boxing during the Commonwealth Day celebrations last week. PHOTO/I. KEZAALA

What you need to know:

Sports for All. In marrying the day to the Games, His Excellency Airey, who actually hails from Birmingham, chose to highlight diversity and inclusion through sports.

On March 10, a host of Ugandan athletes and sports administrators joined politicians and staff of the British High Commission to celebrate Commonwealth Day.

The serene evening gathering at the home of the British High Commissioner to Uganda Her Excellency Kate Airey, came at a time when the country is in the thick of its qualification process for the July 28 to August 8 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

But was also a few days early as Commonwealth Day falls on March 14 annually and aims to celebrate the organization’s core values of freedom, peace and inclusivity. In marrying the day to the Games, H.E Airey, who actually hails from Birmingham, chose to highlight diversity and inclusion through sports.

“The city of Birmingham is one of the most diverse regions in the UK and this year’s Commonwealth Games will also be one of the most diverse and is the perfect embodiment of some of the Commonwealth Charter’s key messages, which states opposition to all forms of discrimination, whether rooted in gender, race, colour, creed or other grounds,” Airey said in a message that also reiterated her country’s support towards Ukraine that is at war with Russia.

Extensive programme

“For the first time ever it (The Games) will include more medals for women than men and it will also have the most extensive para-sports programme yet,” she added ahead of the Games that expect to attract over 1.5b viewers all over the world.

Airey also added that neighbouring Rwanda will host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (Chogm) in about 98 days in June while celebrations to commemorate Queen Elizabeth II’s platinum jubilee as monarch of Britain continue till they climax on June 5.

It was not so much an evening for the athletes to share their experiences.

But in his speech, State Minister for Sports Denis Hamson Obua highlighted Uganda’s increased commitment towards inclusive sports as regards para-sports.

“The para-games form an integral part of our recognized and registered national sports federations.

In fact in all international championships where para-athletes are required like the forthcoming Commonwealth Games, the recently concluded Olympic and Paralympics, Uganda qualifies, prepares and presents these athletes and available records show that they have done us proud so far,” Obua said.

State Minister for Disability Affairs from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development Hellen Grace Asamo advocated for “cooperation to support para-athletes to develop their talents and an annual sports gala to give person’s with disabilities a platform to showcase their talents.”

Moses Mwase, the vice president of the Commonwealth Games Association of Uganda and chief de mission to the Games thanked Airey “the pivotal role played during the Queen’s Baton Relay lap in Uganda.

That created a huge buzz for us and we are putting our best foot forward to ensure we have our best team, and one with para athletes, in Birmingham.”

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