Because the first Contractors/Constructors did not think of it, UPDF Engineering Brigade have. As they redecorate the facility, a mega stature of former South Africa President and Africa’s Political Icon, Nelson Madiba Mandela has been erected for everyone to view in front of Uganda Football Cranes home – Namboole. It gives it a beautiful décor, perhaps to define why the sports arena was called Nelson Mandela Stadium in Uganda.
Also, this is to think that Mandela and his works stays put in many Africans’ hearts to-date. At least many Ugandans are well aware that the Multi-Purpose Sports Namboole stadium is undergoing refurbishment by the Government of Uganda through the Sports department. The yesterday State Minister for Sports, Hamson Obua in February this year officially handed over Namboole stadium to the UPDF Engineering brigade to start renovation works on the facility.
The renovation works as started would be in two phases, with the first one being the construction of a 4.1-kilometer boundary wall to fend off encroachers before renovations around the playing surface, flood lights, running track and the media centre among other facilities in the stadium.
The first phase of construction of the boundary wall as the start of the journey has been meant to protect the facility’s land from continually threatening encroachers.
Whereas the first phase of constructing the perimeter wall will cost UGX3.8B and was projected to be completed in four months, the entire renovation works are set to last nine months at a cost of UGX97Bn.
Nelson Mandela Stature:
With the Stadium perimeter wall almost in its evening days of completion, there is something new added to the facility. Something of honor of the fallen South African politician and Africa’s freedom fighter Nelson Madiba Mandela – A mega stature as you enter the stadium. Airtel Uganda unveiled the statue in honor of Nelson Mandela, for his work and the significant role in liberating South Africa.
The statue was unveiled at the Mandela National Stadium in Namboole, Bweyogerere a Kampala suburb where the facility is nestled. Airtel’s motive is to beatify the facility even further. Before the statue, the stadium was simply being called Nelson Mandela. Today, with the stature erected just in front of the facility, the fallen man is honored. Airtel signed as official partners of the Stadium in 2013, the intention was to make as many tie-ups to not only improve sports but the amenities and environment.
Present himself, Minister Obua called on Ugandans, reminding them why the stadium was named after an African icon. “Many young people keep asking why it was named after Nelson Mandela. Many ask why we did not choose any other icons. The reasons are simple. The government believes in the spirit of Pan-Africanism and Nelson Mandela fought for the freedom of the black race. That is why this Stadium is named after him.”
Officially opened in 1997, the 35000 capacity Mandela National Stadium, also known as Namboole, is home to the country’s national football team, the Cranes. Since its construction by Chinese over 20 years ago, the stadium has not seen any major renovations around it, which causes major alarm. The stadium has got outdated infrastructure – the bowl, halogen floodlights that consume a lot of power, electrical installations that are not readily available on the market, sanitary facilities need repair or change of plumbing installations. The lack of a CCTV system and real time access controls (turnstiles) to monitor the stadium users on entering during and after events, had also turned into a major threat to the facility.
Namboole CAF ban
In 2020, CAF released a report in which it deemed the stadium unfit to host any international matches, including Cranes qualifiers. The facility had failed to meet both the continental and world football governing body – FIFA standards, prompting the ban. CAF highlighted the playing surface, size of the pitch, dressing rooms, floodlights, pavilion, technical bench, media centre and parking among others that are in a dire state.
Following the outbreak of the Covid pandemic, the stadium was turned into a treatment centre. Consequently, Namboole has not hosted any international game for the last four years, with educationist and Vipers boss Lawrence Mulindwa’s St. Mary’s stadium in Kitende being used to host the games. Here (Kitende), Cranes has not posted really good results as they had done before they moved out of Namboole. To many a sports analyst, the move and the poor results at Kitende has been widely attributed to missing home – Namboole.
- 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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