Ghana glory chasers

Smooth Operators. Solomon Mutalya (L) and versatile midfielder Stewart Kavuma were some of the unsung heroes of the Bi-Nation Series in Nairobi and will now look to grow their influence on the national team in Accra of 16. PHOTO/COLLINS OMOLLO

What you need to know:

  • Seeking Success. With the Hockey Cranes out to make gallant returns to the continental Cup and She Cranes on debut, umpires Stanley Tamale and namesake Kenneth will be scripting their own piece of history, too.

Hockey umpires Stanley Tamale and namesake Kenneth are more than delighted to officiate at the January 17-23 Africa Cup of Nations in Accra – Ghana.
Kenneth nearly made his first continental debut at the Africa Olympic qualifiers in 2018 but Uganda failed to make it to the tournament over financial constraints. Stanley has been to different continental club championships but made it to the Olympic qualifiers in 2015 and 2019.

Usually, the Africa Hockey Federation (AfHF) only picks umpires from only countries that qualified.
“But fortunately, I had that country-pegged umpiring waved off for me and I hope that Africa Hockey Federation (AfHF) can wave it for good and create say a pool of 30 umpires that they can develop for such tournaments,” Stanley recalls. Stanley tells his colleagues, who include technical official George Ntegeka that “they should have fun and make their first appearance memorable.

The rules are the same, maybe it is only the stage and culture that changes.”
Kenneth, who already “feels anxious but happy for the opportunity to gain exposure and learn from colleagues,” will take that message to heart.
Ntegeka, on his part, hopes that his chance will “inspire more people to take up these technical officiating roles. Umpiring is picking up but we need more people on the table.”

Stanley, who is also general secretary Uganda Hockey Association (UHA), hopes that they can follow the lead of countries like South Africa, who sent all their umpires that will officiate during this upcoming week to Ireland for camps. “If we can get a Scottish umpire to officiate during our league matches, that would benefit us beyond the two-day courses we are receiving now,” Stanley said.

Hockey elections
Meanwhile, UHA president Phillip Wafula is also contesting against Tanzania’s Doshi Kaushik, Nigeria’s Ediga Agbo and South Africa’s Lwandile Simelane for one of the two available position on the AfHF executive board.
“We need to be among the big boys to enjoy the big things both at home and away.
We want AfHF to be relevant to associations in terms of resource mobilization for development and capacity building. We cannot be getting grants once in almost 10 years yet they claim hockey is the third most popular sport,” Wafula said.

He will also hope AfHF embraces his idea of holding regional tournaments for both countries and clubs as it has proved logistically tough for most teams to travel for the continental ones. While at it, UHA are bidding to host the All Africa Games qualifiers in April and hope to get government’s backing before the January 31 deadline.
“Imagine our budget for Ghana is about Shs765million which we had to cut down to Shs500m.
Our simple budget to host the All Africa Games qualifiers is Shs100m, which is less than the Shs145m cost for tickets to and fro Ghana,” Wafula said.