KAMPALA, Uganda: In his words, International Swimming Federation (FINA) president Captain Dr. Husain AHZ Al-Musallam told the media; “I am here to witness for myself how swimming and other aquatic sports are, at the moment. There is a big concern of facilities which we want to address.”
Then, he added, “There is urgent need to improve the technical standards of swimming and encourage as many young swimmers as possible to take up the sport.”
The former aero plane pilot was in the company of FINA Executive Director John Brent Nowicki, FINA Vice President Sam Ramasamy, El Chaykh Ahmad Al Saabi (Executive Assistant to FINA President), Nikolaus Schonfeldt (Executive Assistant to FINA Executive Director), Alex Szanto, as well as two World Olympic swimming champions Ferry Weertman and Ranomi M. Kromowidjojo.
He would later proceed to Kampala, on the site of swimming itself, curious to Seeing with his eyes the work of the swimming administration at all levels and then talk to the swimmers, coaches, swimming officials, government officials and other leaders.
The Kuwait billionaire, Dr. Husain AHZ Al-Musallam (born 19 May 1960 in Kuwait) is the present Director General of Olympic Council of Asia and Secretary General of Kuwait Olympic Committee.
A former professional swimmer himself, who joined the swimming club of Kazma Sports Club at the age of 8 and became a member of the national team at 13, Al-Musallam, between 1974 and 1976, competed in all Pan-Arab, Asian and World Swimming Championships.
So, when he comes to Uganda the local swimming federation ought to have prioritized aquatic issues and not focusing energies on personal selfish interests.
Issues like facilities development and standardizing swimming levels could possibly have dominated the agenda of the many meetings with the International Swimming Federation President whose determination, according to his good deed words were to help and uplift the standards of aquatic facilities in the country.
For sure the country has very few swimming pools that match the international swimming standards meaning a very slow development of the aquatic game.
Former swimming president and now UOC President Donald Rukare, also a board member of FINA, and the man at the helm of swimming today, having been voted in the same office last Saturday, Mr. Moses Mwase, should be very aware of the poor state of Uganda Swimming Federation.
So, theirs was such a simple job-to-tell the man from the World swimming body that they are as good as dead regarding the swimming facilities. True the USF President Mwase expressed delight upon hosting the FINA president for the first time in history.
But beyond delight, there lies a number of issues to tackle after the visit of FINA president without just envisaging this visit as just a complete blessing to Uganda as a country and particularly to the swimming family.
As the 2016 Olympic gold medalist in the open water category, Ferry Weertman expressed and revealed that he will help many young swimmers prepare for full professional swimming, so let the country follow-up on his promises.
“First you have to have the dream, belief and work hard to achieve the dream. Young swimmers need to inject extra effort to achieve big” Weertman, a Dutch retired swimmer urged.
This visit of the FINA president to Uganda and the region is humbling. It will boost the swimming sport. The athletes’ visit is equally significant for they inspire many of the swimmers who dream big to join the world stage.
The visiting delegation later on Thursday evening also visited the First Lady as well as minister of education and sports, at State House Entebbe, before they were hosted to a dinner at Sheraton Kampala Hotel.
Last Friday, they interacted with the swimmers and other leaders as well as the media before departing for Egypt. But the good man is not without a scandal in life, especially sports related and bribery. There is need to be cautious here.
In May 2017, The Times identified Hussain Al-Musallam as “co-conspirator #3” in a US Department of Justice indictment of Richard Lai, a former member of FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee and head of the Guam Football Association.
In his guilty plea, Richard Lai admitted to accepting $750,000 in wire transfers from accounts controlled by “co-conspirator #3 or his assistants. The OCA, in a written statement to The Times, denied the allegations and “asked the OCA ethics committee to carry out a full review.”
In September 2021, the Associated Press reported that Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah and Hussain Al-Musallam had been targeted by the U.S. Department of Justice for suspected racketeering and bribery related to FIFA and international soccer politics.
According to the AP, in 2017, the US embassy in Kuwait formally requested evidence from the country, including bank account information for the two officials, who have been identified as potential co-conspirators.
American prosecutors “told their Kuwaiti counterparts they wanted to establish if the suspects made other payments to [Richard] Lai, or if their accounts were used to wire possible bribe payments to other soccer officials.
Additional report by the Agencies
- Mr. Daniels N. Tatya is an affluent Sports Writer, Commentator and Editor. His over 15 years of covering almost major sporting events makes him a revered and an authority on investigative Sports journalism in Uganda. He can also be reached via [email protected] +256(0)758268315
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