During the recently concluded end of year Uganda Sports Press Association (USPA) annual gala at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala, speaker of parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga bemoaned the current state of sports facilities in Uganda.
“When you look at most of our sports facilities in the country, they are in a sorry state. In fact, many are extinct because of the so-called investors. Can you imagine?” she pondered much to the applause of the gathering.
To drive home the message, she was specific about the fading sports open spaces at Nakivubo, Mbarara, Bugembe (Jinja) and Mbale.
As I retired home on the night, Kadaga’s speech kept flowing through my head.
I reflected and vividly recalled her speech word for word.
Many of the sports facilities in the country have indeed gone to the dogs.
Maintenance of such amenities remains and has posed the biggest challenge
There are many case studies to bear witness as many of the sports grounds in the major towns across the country are virtually unattended to.
From Moroto, Kapchorwa, Bukedea, Mbale, Tororo, Busia, Jinja, Lira, Arua, Moyo, Nebbi, Masindi, Fort Portal, Masaka, Mityana, Mbarara, Kabale, Entebbe, Kampala, there is nothing to be proud of.
Uganda’s pride is the Nelson Mandela National Stadium the only international stadium whose maintenance still has been under looked.
The running tartan, toilet facilities, equipment for the other in-door sports as Table tennis, basketball, handball, lawn tennis and the rest are at most broken down or in a sorry state.
Besides, the recently refurbished Pece stadium in Gulu municipality, there is virtually no regional stadium to be proud of.
For ages now, Mbale Municipal stadium has remained barren and dry with the internal perimeter wall fencing rusting away as the toilets remain a no-go zone.
Recently, heavy rains and winds blew away the roofing for Mbale Municipal pavilion and no effort is being undertaken to renovate the dressing rooms.
There are many case studies that Kadaga’s tears reflect to.
She referred to what remained of the Kyabazinga stadium in Bugembe town (Jinja) as merely a wall.
Surely, the re-greening at Bugembe was executed but less effort was emphasized on grading and levelling the ground to ensure good bounce and movement of the ball.
The internal fencing remains weak and the dressing rooms stink even after the “massive renovation”.
When will this country’s sports sector grow without standard facilities?
A few weeks ago, I visited Lira Municipality. Every time I go to Lira, I make it a point to pass-by the golf course.
Just like the Arua, Mbale, Tororo and Mbarara Golf Courses, Lira golf course is no different.
Over grown grass welcomes you to the facility with ant-hills decimated all through the course.
In which state are our sports facilities if we are to take this country’s sports standards to a level much desired?
One really wonders what happened to the vast green open spaces that occupied Lugogo and Naguru areas back in the days.
What is left today is Lugogo Cricket Oval, Kyadondo rugby ground, the Star Times Stadium where KCCA FC hosts their games and the Legends rugby ground.
The rest of the ground was grabbed by the “so-called investors” in the famous land bonanza.
Kadaga in her speech did not mince words as she bravely attacked the state minister for sports, Charles Bakabulindi for many of the mishaps.
But, I insist, Kadaga’s concern and tears should be an eye opener to the education and sports ministry as well as the other concerned authorities.
Then, we ought not to shift the blame game, but, worked collectively for the betterment of sports in our mother land.
Right from the central government to the local citizens (wanaichi), it is everyone’s primary duty to save our sports facilities before the situation gets out of hand. Let us fight as a unit. This gallant battle should start today and right now.
For God and my country.