Silverbacks stuck in Afrobasket cash hole

What you need to know:

  • Funding woes. Basketball federation needs Shs800 million for the Silverbacks’ Afrobasket campaign in Kigali but National Council of Sports offers only Shs300m

The national men’s basketball team, the Silverbacks, was scheduled to fly to Rwanda yesterday ahead of the Fiba Afrobasket championship but they are still in the country.

Their travel, according to Fuba president Nasser Sserunjogi, is only possible with government funding.

For that to happen, Fuba required Shs800m, part of which is to clear a debt, and then meet costs to travel to Kigali.

The National Council of Sports (NCS) is giving them Shs300m. If the rest of the money is not found, the Silverbacks will forfeit their third straight Afrobasket qualification.

NCS general secretary Bernard Patrick Ogwel, however, says it was a good move for the federation (to borrow) to find ways but government processes can take time.

“We can only spend what is available to us from government,” Ogwel said, but added that the Council was set to wire Shs300m to Fuba today for the team’s Afrobasket trip.

Lingering debt
Sserunjogi said Fuba was forced to acquire a $100,000 (Shs360m) loan as a last resort to have the team in Morocco during the qualifier with hope that NCS would reimburse.

That debt has not been paid and Sserunjogi says it is top of the agenda should any money hit the Fuba account.

NCS has already spent over Shs700m on the Silverbacks’ road to Afrobasket with the first trip to Egypt in November 2020 fully funded to a tune of Shs340m. The second trip to Monastir, Tunisia, was also fully funded with Shs374m from the government.

Tunisia should have been the final trip for the team in the qualifiers but Covid-19 cases in the team camp saw Uganda sent back home and their games rescheduled.

However, when the team had to go to Morocco – and possibly Cape Verde – NCS had no money. This was around the same time the women’s team, Gazelles, was tipping off preps for their own qualifiers in Rwanda that was later abandoned.

Fuba had a choice to make. Pull out of the men’s qualifiers too or devise means to have the teams in Morocco for the game.
“The question should be, did we do the right thing as a federation? I think so,” Sserunjogi said about taking a loan to have the team complete the qualifiers.

Uganda’s first game at the tournament is on August 25 against Senegal but there has been no team training yet and players and coaches remain scattered.

Scattered team

Teams are expected to arrive in Kigali not later than August 19 due to Covid-19 protocols and travellers from Uganda are subjected to a seven-day quarantine upon arrival in Kigali. However, the Silverbacks are yet to converge with many of the players scattered in different countries.

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