Sports in Uganda Sucks!
Women rugby players at Lugogo.

Sports in Uganda Sucks!

He is not a die hard sports fan but Henry Kiiwa Musoke wants to help the fate of sports in Uganda. How unrealistic is he?

By Henry Kiiwa Musoke
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First published: May 21, 2005

Okay, Iím back from UG and oh I had a blast! Which of your Diaspora brothers and sisters would tell you otherwise? Even if you've had enough after a couple of weeks of surviving malaria, not getting run over by a boda boda and not being involved in an accident in the traffic on Queensway or while passing cars as you look ahead at nearing on coming traffic on Entebbe road. You know what I'm talking about! Still... home is home and as soon as you land back at where ever you decided to emigrate to, you forget the relentless Kampala dust in your nostrils and want to go right back. All you remember now is those Nile Specials and Waragi, and hanging out at Alís Bar till 9:30 in the morning, way after some Kampalans have made it to Crazee!

Now I am no sports fanatic, but one thing that amazed me was the slow death of sports in Uganda and even more amazing, was Ugandans not acknowledging that they are a major cause in this. Sure I had heard that FUFA and the Ministry of Sports and Education, apparently housed in some decaying building in the Industrial Area, were not doing a good job probably because they are as broke as every other instrument of the government. But what I saw in Kampala was appalling.

I remember when I used to live in Boston and those years when Bostonians supported the ill-fated Patriots who I think have now won the cup for the past 3 out of 4 years. And how about the curse of the Red Sox and the hopeless Celtics? As bad and unfortunate as these teams get sometimes, the locals always hang in there and support their teams, at least enough to keep them running.


We are so busy supporting these European teams and making them wealthier through all sorts of advertising and sponsorships.

Ugandan sports lovers should re evaluate their love for European football (in fact their love for all things not Ugandan) because it is creating competition for your local industry- in this case your local football teams. If you loved your local teams that much they would not be suffering right now because SOMEONE would have rescued them.

Our teams can stand up on their own if the public was interested in them. Public interest (including interest from Uganda and elsewhere) is what finances these European teams not the British government or what have you.

I agree that government involvement helps- I simply think the main problem in Uganda is the lack of support by local fans. It is a simple cycle: Support the foreign teams, they make more money and therefore their soccer becomes better because they can afford better players and better trainers. Meanwhile, because there is no support for local teams by the public, Nile Special and the likes stop sponsoring teams and therefore these teams can't afford better training and their soccer gets worse etc.

Sure, the government can help by sponsoring with free tax money, but right now the public also needs to check themselves and know that they too can do something about it.

Stop waiting to be fed by the government. There is no such thing as a "self sustaining teamĒ. At least not in these developed countries whose football you are watching. These players, trainers, managers and their cleaners need to be paid and that money comes from somewhere. It comes from you simply watching the games and there are people who want to communicate to you while you watch the games. They are the ones who pay these teams so that as the ball is being kicked, you can see a "Nike" shoe kick a "Spaulding" ball from a player wearing a "Reeboks" shirt as the camera shows the ball traveling through the soccer field past 10 banners saying "Coca-Cola", "Heineken", "Xerox", "Toyota", "Barclays", "Office Depot", "British Airways", "Sheraton", "IBM" and "Apple". These are the companies that pay these teams. Money does not grow on trees is what yo mama told you. All the money they make comes from support either directly or indirectly.

Imagine if Ugandans hang in there and started supporting their lousy teams. If this happened en-masse, and if these same companies wanted to get into the Ugandan market they would have to give a call to Ugandan TV stations to pay for ad space. And so will the local companies. The teams will end up getting uniforms with a Nile Special sticker and Stanbic shorts while Barclays in London pays Nakivubo Stadium to post a banner to encourage people to go to Barclays in Kampala.

Right now these foreign companies donít need to invest in UG because they know that you are simply watching them from where they are. So they keep sponsoring the teams in their own countries knowing that if they need to advertise to you all they need are banners in a London stadium. If Barclays in Kampala wants you to open an account in Kampala, they will advertise to you in London because they know thatís what you are watching.

I am simply saying that you might enjoy watching European Soccer, well and good, but know that you are killing industries at home in the process. It is not only the teams that die out. The trainer who would have trained the players now has to go to abroad to find a job. Maybe at least he will get lucky and play for Chelsea- your team. The company that makes the uniforms also goes bankrupt and does away with some accountants and other staff. Then you sit back there in Kampala wondering why you are unemployed and wondering why the only jobs to find are those in the countries on your TV sets.

YOU are the reason why your sports teams SUCK!!

Plain and Simple!

By Henry Kiiwa Musoke
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First published: May 21, 2005
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