Like the previous national sports fora between the NCS and the Local sports federations/associations, the 14thNational Sports Forum last Wednesday at the NCS Uganda offices left many issues, challenges, problems and unanswered questions on card than it so pursued to solve.
You see, “I don’t remember when I ever came to this forum and left with answers or solutions to the different challenges facing especially many of us in sports administration.” Pointed out one administrator very anonymous in nature.
In the same tone, this administrator, like many others, felt the sports fraternity is being bullied by the National Council of Sports (NCS) committee and the Ministry when he told this website that; “every time we come, we talk and leave without having real issues discussed and solved and when we attempt to move motions on the floor, they are quashed and meet their sorry death upon mere mention”
Sports is sports, very competitive in nature. It involves a combination of things put together. Individual effort and dedication if you are an athlete, picking the right athlete if you are a coach, making helpful and meaningful choices if you are an administrator, and making and coming good on the deliberations and promises on policies if you are a policy maker, but…. Money or funding is the matter.
Mention sports to many athletes and administrator in any sporting discipline you know of and they will tell you and make statements of; “you can’t compete if you don’t have money” and indeed its every sports man/woman’s reflection. Well, there has been some lot of lagging here but the point is National Council of Sports (NCS) meetings with the heads of National Sports Associations/Federations are but a waste of time.
Truly, as the minister of sports Hon. Peter Ogwang, who is by nature the chairman of these forums know that today, the Sports sub-sector in Uganda is now operating under a new Sports Law/regime, the National Sports Act, 2023. The point is, operating under this new law requires funding to both national teams and clubs.
Without mention of names, an administrator knelt, a gesture to show passion for the sport, appealing to the minister (Ogwang) in the just concluded forum to fund a national team then the minister pretended and bullied the sportsman saying “you know I am the sports minister and I work under a strict budget”. Was that invited? Nah!
That means the team will miss out on the international competition courtesy of the useless NCS forum and ministry. Moses Muhangi is in the mood of cursing the former sports minister Dennis Hamson Obua and the whole Ministry of Education and Sports if not NCS over boxing the sport for which he is the president.
“Council does not address us on boxing in schools. It’s where we nurture talent. Whatever the reason the former minister banned boxing in schools is not well explained. We are waiting” Muhangi told the investigator sport by the sidelines. It should be noted that Hon. Obua then as sports minister in 2022 banned boxing in schools and the ban is yet to be lifted.
Then, the other issue is netball. Netball sport is, if the country didn’t have athletics, then could be the hottest sport selling Uganda internationally. The netball administrational war is just getting bigger and worse if not worst and both council (NCS) and the Sports and Education ministry is simply watching. The forum has not solved this puzzle which threatens to abundantly distress the sport in terms of performance and funding.
First Lady, Janet Museveni, also the Minister of Education and Sports last week issued an order, instructing Uganda Netball Federation (UNF) President, Sarah Babirye Kityo, to refrain from returning to her office until investigations are completed. The directive conveyed through a letter dated October 4, 2023, addressed to Ambrose Tashobya, Chairperson of the National Council of Sports (NCS), states that Brig. General Flavia Byekwaso is to serve as the acting President of the federation during this period.
By and large, this leaves both Babirye and Byekwaso at the battle lines and Byekwaso has started to enjoy the comfort of the office. In her letter, Janet specifies that no further funding will be provided to the Uganda Netball Federation until the issues related to leadership and governance are resolved. Furthermore, it instructs the NCS Chairman to revoke the certificate of recognition granted to the Uganda Netball Federation unless they meet the requirements of a National Sports Federation.
Before the situation now, The Minister, Janet convened at State House, Nakasero, for a meeting involving officials from the Ministry of Education and Sports, the National Council of Sports, and UNF. In this meeting, Babirye was directed to step aside for three months, enabling a probe into allegations such as player mistreatment during the 2021 Pent Series, player harassment, financial mismanagement, and failure to account for funds.
Babirye complied then. Upon completing three months on the sidelines, she is ready to come back into her office but interrupted by the sports Ministry, meeting resistance as armed policemen, acting on Byekwaso’s orders, have tried to evict her. Since her argumentative return, a conflict has consequently persisted between Babirye and her Vice President, Byekwaso whilst Council and the sports Minister are watching. Why the forum then if it can’t solve these issues at hand? Babirye is being foul played for pinning NCS individually the NCS general Secretary Dr. Bernard Patrick Ogwel of accountability.
Local federations/association have been reminded to pay total allegiance to both NCS and Ministry by the now new sports law as National Sports Associations/Federations are expected to formally reapply for registration with NCS. The Sports Associations/Federations are also required to have a national character with 50% coverage for Associations and 75% for Federations. That is fine.
However, the policy indicate that the professionalization of sports requires National Sports Associations to align their respective Constitutions to the new Laws. The National Sports Act, 2023 is very clear on the compliance guidelines for National Sports Associations/Federations and one of the key requirements is having Strategic Plans to ensure development of the respective Sports Associations. Netball has issues. Its administration pays little or even no allegiance to Council.
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