Woodball fraternity mourns passing of founder

Woodball top bosses Paul Mark Kayongo (L) and Collin Ssemmanda sign the book in memory of the late Weng, the founder of woodball. PHOTO/GEORGE KATONGOLE. 

The founder of the sport of woodball, Weng Ming-hui, died unexpectedly at the age of 77.

Weng died last week, according to the Uganda Woodball Federation. His cause of death was not immediately known but it occurred after an operation about two weeks ago. He is reported to have died on the night of Valentine's Day.

Eulogising his death at the Woodball Federation offices in Nakulabye where a vigil was held, Paul Mark Kayongo, a vice president on the international body, said Weng was a visionary person.

"From inventing a sport that was meant to entertain his aging parents to establishing a now global sport, Mr Weng has always supported the growth of the sport especially in Africa," Kayongo said.

Woodball was invented in Taiwan in 1990 and was made an official sport of the Asian Beach Games in 2008. The sport is played in 44 countries and Uganda is the top African country.

At the time of his death, Weng was in negotiations with the International Olympic Committee to include the sport in their games.

"Mr Weng had the inherent feeling for the growth of the sport and his ambitions of making woodball an Olympic sport will be high on our agenda now that he is gone," Kayongo explained.

An engineer by profession, Weng, who last visited Uganda in 2017 during the Uganda International Open at Kisubi Beach in Entebbe, was a great supporter of Ugandan players sometimes funding their trips to international tournaments.

Legendary female player Lillian Zawedde described him as a parent.

"I first interacted with him in 2011 during the Taiwan Open. At the time we were still struggling with funds and he would facilitate my fares and accommodation for international games. He was always excited to see African players in woodball. I wish those who succeed him will be able to keep his vision of embracing everyone alive," Zawedde, the country's seed five, said.

His son Sean Chi-Hsiang Weng, who has been the Secretary General is serving in acting capacity until the next assembly.