Kampala- Uganda Hockey Association (UHA) president Phillip Wafula has accepted the challenge of delivering hockey teams to the 2024 Olympics in Paris.
Wafula on Saturday defeated incumbent Lydia Dhamuzungu at the National Council of Sports (NCS) Indoor Stadium gym by nine of the fully recognised 12 delegates at the elective assembly.
“We’re happy to learn of the performance in Nairobi,” NCS chairman and Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) president Donald Rukare said as he congratulated UHA for reviving the national teams, after a 14-year lull, at the Federation of International Hockey (FIH) Test Series in Nairobi last week.
“You know that we last had a hockey team at the Olympics in 1972 with 17 players. And although it is not easy to have team sports at that level, Paris 2024 should be your target now,” he urged.
As UHA sit to draw up their strategic plan, this could be one of the main, albeit hugely ambitious, goals of the new executive whose term runs out in 2025.
In Nairobi, men’s team won two and drew one with regional powerhouse Kenya to get on the FIH rankings (91st) table for the first time since 2010. Women, however, lost all three games but also got ranked for the first time ever as Uganda started preparation for the Africa Cup due January 2022 in Ghana.
“We’ve Ghana coming up but that is just the start. We’ve been given a target of Paris 2024 and I believe that the team you have given the mandate today will deliver and take hockey to greater heights,” Wafula said in his acceptance speech.
He promised to build bridges after a sour election in which he was not backed by the club he co-founded, Weatherhead.
At one point, the Weatherhead delegates, who backed Dhamuzungu, tried to have Wafula taken out of the race, saying he had been nominated by a non-fully paid up member in Deliverance Church.
However, returning officer George Wagoogo confirmed that the long-serving general secretary (2009-2021) had been nominated by Wananchi.
For long, it looked like Dhamuzungu’s election to lose as only Weatherhead were fully paid up. But as the election drew closer, other clubs picked interest, paid up and fronted their own for positions.
Her appeal was also re-affirmed when former UOC president William Blick, accompanying Rukare to the assembly, threw his weight behind her, citing her role in resurrecting the national team, development of structures, among others.
Rukare, in whose UOC executive Dhamuzungu serves as assistant general secretary, also subtly backed her, urging the assembly to champion women leaders.
But the endorsements were not enough as persuasion and alliances took the day. All those that won seats, including four that served in Dhamuzungu’s executive, had locked hands with Wafula.
Also, pushing for the return of Makerere and Mubs to the AGM after years of absence, was a masterstroke Wafula’s bloc pulled from under Dhamuzungu’s feet.
How the Exco polled
Phillip Wafula 9 votes
Lydia Dhamuzungu 3
Joshua Opolot 9
Fatuma Namubiru 3
Michael Nashimolo 0
Stanley Tamale 8
Joseph Kamin 4
Kenneth Tamale 10
Gerald Aquino Ssesaazi 2
*Each of the 6 paid up clubs had 2 delegates