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OPINION: For how long can Uganda forget the sports sector and until when?

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Ugandan athlete Julius Ssekitoleko missing in Japan spotted on CCTV (PHOTO /Courtesy)

By Muhimbise George

This week, the Minister of sports Hon Hamson Obua together with a bunch of “useless” government officials signed for huge per diem allowances, acomodation in five star hotels, expensive VIP air tickets, shopping etc on a journey to Japan, on an official duty to look for a Ugandan sportsman one Julius Sekitoleko who reportedly disappeared in Japan having gone to participate in the ongoing Olympic games.

Sekitoleko who went as a weightlifter has previously participated in several competitions abroad including Common Wealth Games and many other competitions in different parts of the world.

At only 20 years of age, with the ability to represent the country at such international competitions is talent and hard work that the country would be proud of. Such a young talent should be supported, facilitated, empowered, improved, nurtured and mentored.

But watching on TV, a miserable Sekitoleko’s expectant girlfriend in a single rented room, in a slum, beats ones understanding on how or why a sports man of that caliber would be living in such diplorable conditions!

This however explains, why Sekitoleko would better get lost in the wilderness in Japan, a place thousands of miles away from his motherland, family and friends anticipating better fortunes!

Sekitoleko represents millions of Ugandans who have given up on their country and are willing to take any risk pursuing fortunes elsewhere, not Uganda!

Reports of torture, sexual abuse, murders, human organ selling etc have been reported in the Middle East, but despite these reports, thousands of Ugandans flock labor office companies to the extent of bribing to go to the world of unknown in search for opportunity! The moment you see a rat run from the store and it finds you at a fire place, and Instead of running back to the store it goes into fire, it means the situation that pushed it out of the store is much worse than the fire itself, that’s the situation in which most Ugandans including Sekitoleko find themselves.

Contrary to the African adage, that goes that “better the devil you know than the angel you have never seen”, it appears that our devil here is so brutal and bad that Ugandans have preferred to persue an angel they have not seen than the devil that is tormenting them!

Sekitoleko represents thousands of Ugandans in the Sports and entertainment industry that have been left on their own! Left hopeless, powerless, support less, and cashless!

Sports alone contributes over 37 billon pounds to the GDP of United Kingdom. This is about 180 trillion Uganda shillings equivalent to the tax collections of Uganda Revenue Authority for ten years. This explains the huge potential in sports if it’s well developed by any country.

It is only in Uganda where sports is not funded or supported, where land for playgrounds is grabbed, where the national stadium is dilapidated, where talents are not spotted or developed and above all where even the little money allocated to sports is squandered by the gluttons who manage sports affairs!

It is in Uganda where allowances of national team players are stolen when they have a pending major qualifier competition and nothing happens, where intellectual property law is non existent or too weak to serve any purpose!

It is in Uganda where some medalists are awarded with handouts while others are not.

The other time I saw the President donating a brand new car to former Cranes Captain Denis Onyango, which was a good thing, but what about other players who have retired or who will retire? What about those of boxing, wrestling, rugby, netball, volleyball etc? What about the athletees or weightlifters like Sekitoleko?

It appears on sports, Museveni is the policy himself, if you can catch his eye you will carry sacs of money, if you are not you will rot with your talent, but how can a country be run (ruined) like this?

So with all these problems, watching Minister Okello Oryem threaten to arrest Sekitoleko for embarrasing the country without acertaining the prevailing conditions is a clear evidence of leaders who are out of touch with the reality.

Whereas Sekitoleko could be wrong for having absconded on a duty that took him to Japan, Uganda is more guilty for not giving him hope, even after proving that he is talented!

Muhimbise George, [email protected], 0787836515

The author is a member of the Alliance for National Transformation Publicity Committee

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