Fina expect govt support as pool wait continues

Making Promises. Fina president Al-Musallam (C) shares thoughts with swimmers across all age groups. The swimmers made a case for elite training camps, improved technical capacity for their coaches and ultimately a swimming pool. PHOTO/ MAKHTUM MUZIRANSA 

What you need to know:

  • Plan In Place. Kabogoza’s plea fits right into USF’s strategic plan 2021-2025 that is yet to be finalised.
  • USF have worked with Africa Consults to draw up the plan that started with a review of their 2017-2020 plan.

Ugandan swimmers led by Olympian Kirabo Namutebi and Adnan Kabuye made their feelings known to the Fina president during their meeting at Aga Khan Nursery School, Kololo last Friday.

The athletes, who spoke on behalf of hundreds of their colleagues in attendance, feel their progress and that of the country is curtailed by the lack of world class facilities and opportunities to improve.

Namutebi is just returning from the year-long Fina scholarship in Russia where her progress has been drastic.

In the 50m freestyle, for example, her times in one year have gone from about 27 seconds to 25.

Her brother Tendo Mukalazi clocked under 23 seconds in the short course Vladmir Salnikov Cup in Saint Petersburg last December. He was a shoo-in for 25 seconds before the scholarship.
“What I would ask for is for more swimmers to get these eye-opening opportunities,” Namutebi said.

Kabuye, who also benefited from a Cana Swim Camp last April before he became the first swimmer to go under 24 seconds in 50m free on home soil in December wants to see a “proper elite national team getting these camps.” “We need a 50m pool to become more efficient and create a difference. The lanes here are not even properly fixed,” he said.

The plan
Fina president Husain Al-Musallam made his commitment that Uganda will get a standard 25m pool but set no timelines as he passed the ball back to government and Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) to make some guarantees.

“We see the love for the water and that Africa has good potential but needs a lot of support in terms of equipment and coaches.

I have seen families and parents behind their kids. We want to support, government, the National Olympic Committee (NOC) want to support so we need to put our efforts together.

In the short term, we want to encourage swimming for all and in the mid-term we (Fina) want to give one swimming pool every year then later on, we want to select these swimmers to go to different levels of development,” the Kuwaiti former national swimmer and flight captain said. Fina, by the way, will now include education in their scholarships and this should make them more attractive to athletes that want to balance academics and sports.

“We will give Uganda a 25m pool but we need land first.
Then we want to know what is going to happen to the pool in the first five years. Government must give access to federation and athletes to train.

The federation must guarantee that other logistical things will measure up to Fina requirements.

But most importantly, we do not build the pool here. We manufacture it outside so the government agency or customs must see it as support for future children and not tax it when it comes to Uganda.That is a basic requirement,” Al-Musallam added as he also guaranteed that African athletes going to the June 18 - July 3 World Championships in Hungary will have a training cam.

According to Cana (Africa swimming) president Sam Ramsamy the Fina pool will go to Djibouti this year.

For government’s part, Minister of Education and Sports First Lady Janet Museveni used her Twitter handle to publicize her commitment to Fina’s plans after meeting with Al-Musallam last Thursday.

“Uganda is doing reasonably well in sports as of late, so we welcome partners who want to walk with us on this journey. We would like to focus more on swimming and let our young people strive to excel at it just like they are doing in athletics and football.

“I pledge that the Government of Uganda will hold hands with the International Swimming Federation to develop the swimming sport in the country.”