NCS’ Ogwel talks fixing funding gaps

Vision. Ogwel has been inspired by 2020 success. PHOTO/GEORGE KATONGOLE

Emerging from the Covid crisis and the busy Olympic year, the perception of sports in Uganda has significantly changed.
The coronavirus pandemic led to the deduction of the sports budget yet most sportsmen excelled at the global stage.
Patrick Ogwel, general secretary of the National Council of Sports (NCS), says this has highlighted the need for more funding to the sector.
“We’ve shown that we can manage sports well even with lean budgets. We set our priorities right and I am happy it all paid off,” Ogwel said in an interview. 

The government has restored the sport budget to Shs26bn the nezt financial year, partly because of the blistering performances. Last year, the sports budget was cut by Shs8bn as government attempted to manage the pandemic.
Ogwel is however unhappy with wrangling sports federations and calls for better leadership in the coming year.
Referring to the Uganda Athletics Federation,  Ogwel said putting emphasis on athletes is the foundation of good sports performance.

“We need sports to be looked at as a corporate activity. Government support is not enough to fund sports. It is only supplementary. Corporate governance is key in clubs and federations to attract sponsors,” he said.
2020, the best ever
The deferred Tokyo 2020 Olympics painted the sporting year with bliss for Ogwel.
With four medals, including two golds, that was Uganda’s best performance in the Olympics since 1952. Uganda was ranked second in Africa, behind Kenya, in last year’s Olympic Games.

Joshua Cheptegei set two new world records on top of a gold and silver medal from the Olympics. Peruth Chemutai also set the bar high with a gold medal in the women’s steeplechase, the first for any Ugandan woman at the Games.
“2020 was challenging but we rose up and succeeded. It has been my best ever. I can say it has been a year of inspiration,” Ogwel said.

High altitude centre taking shape 

The national high altitude centre in Teryet, Kapchorwa, has been delayed for quite some time.
Ogwel said phase one is at about 90 per cent with the commissioning expected in May. The fist phase consists of a track and hostel.
But his heart still aches for the inadequate facilities. He says NCS has asked for an additional Shs78b to facilitate the rehabilitation of the 10 regional stadiums.
‘‘We are looking at basic standards for facilities. We want to facilitate infrastructure development. That will be in a phased manner but we want to be able to sustain the momentum and be consistent with achievements,” Ogwel said.
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