Futsal focuses on Dakar 2026 Youth Olympics

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What you need to know:

The strategy taken by FAU is to work with academies under the Uganda Youth Football Associations (UYFA). UYFA will start by organising a primary schools tournament.

Uganda will be ready to compete for a place in the 2026 Youth Olympics Games scheduled in the Senegalese capital of Dakar, say officials.

Laying down a plan for the sport for the next five years, Hamza Jjunju, the chairman of the Futsal Association of Uganda (FAU) said the national team, which has been named the Nile Cranes, will be in place next year.

At the moment only the men's national league is the top activity run by the association. The other is the Uganda Cup.

"Fufa has already ratified the creation of the national team. It will hopefully have a budget next year as we embark on friendly games. At first, we are set to have a competitive team for the 2024 Caf Africa Futsal Cup of Nations," Jjunju said during the second annual general meeting of FAU at Kenendia Hotel in Katwe.

The strategy taken by FAU is to work with academies under the Uganda Youth Football Associations (UYFA). UYFA will start by organising a primary schools tournament.

"By 2026, the players will be ready to compete for a place in the Youth Olympics," Jjunju added.

Roberts Kiwanuka, the chairman of UYFA embraced the idea of using academies to promote futsal.

He said that an organised league for schools will get underway next year.

"We are aware of the benefits futsal can offer young players. They can develop immensely in terms of speed and quick decision making. We are proud to take the lead," Kiwanuka, the director of Rays of Grace Academy in Njeru, said.


Women eat big

The biggest step for futsal was the inclusion of more women in the sport.

The AGM unanimously passed a resolution to have a 50 per cent representation of women in the general meeting. Each team is expected to present a male and female delegate starting with the next year's AGM.

"Inclusion is a key part of sport now. Having more women at the level of decision making is crucial for us. It does not only help us achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but strategically we want to recruit more women players," Jjunju said.

Achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the UN.

At the moment, only three women are in the sport, one being a referee. The other two are administrators.

Although the league is in the third year, a women league is yet to begin. It is hoped that women will start playing when the primary schools league gets underway.


More league teams.

During the first edition of the national league in 2019, 14 teams participated. Due to licensing requirements, the league was reduced to eight teams.

In order to increase competition, it was resolved to add two more teams. But there will not be relegation or promotion at least until the next two seasons.

There's some motivation to have teams play as Fufa awarded Shs15m in prizes with the winner taking Shs5m.

"Gradually, we are getting there. Our emphasis now is on enabling teams to become sustainable. We must first of all encourage them to undertake sports management courses, some offered by Uganda Olympics Committee (UOC). After building the capacity of administrators, we can be sure of having relegation and promotion," Jjunju said.

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