We need to realize the potential in sports
The week that just ended had Ugandans celebrating the impressive performance at the Gold coast Commonwealth games held in Australia. The Pearl of Africa has won an impressive 3 gold medals from Stella Chesang in the women’s 10,000m, Joshua KipruiCheptegei in the men’s 5,000m and 10,000m races. Solomon Mutai settled for silver medal at men’s marathon, Mercyline Chelengat and boxer Fazil Juma scored bronze medals in their respective disciplines. The Ugandan team put up spirited performances even in those other disciplines where we failed win medals, i.e. the netball She cranes missed out on the semi finals by a mere 18 goals difference. They had to beat Scotland by a margin of more than 35 goals. Jacob Kiplimo came forth in the men’s 10000m, Winnie Nanyondo came forth too in the women’s 800m.
This impressive performance can partly be attributed to the improved and we’ll timed effort by the government to fund the preparations of our contingent. Previously, our teams to such games lacked even the most basic of equipment like running shoes, athletes allowances were meager, some didn’t even have sufficient food in their training camps. The current situation is that the constitution regards sports a recreational activity. Yet worldwide thanks to globalization, sports is a multi billion dollar industry. Athletes are millionaires, some billionaires, sports teams employ thousands of staff, thanks to Television broadcast rights and corporate endorsements. Multinational corporations pay athletes and sports teams huge chunks of cash in exchange for advertisement of their products to the billions of loyal fans of sports franchises and athletes.
A professional athlete requires the services of a personal manager, publicist, nutritionist, personal assistant, personal trainer, etc. In a country that is plagued by a very young unemployed population who are also the biggest consumers of sports, the sports industry has the potential to create thousands of job opportunities for the nationals if the local sports teams and athletes turned professional.
My favorite sporting moment happened at the London 2012 Olympics Closing Ceremony when Stephen Kiprotich received his gold medal for the men’s marathon race. The national anthem was played loud for a worldwide audience of hundreds of millions and the Ugandan flag flew down high. The commentators had nothing to say but praise Uganda. That moment alone achieved more mileage in promoting Uganda than the millions of dollars paid to public relations firms to promote Uganda’s image. Uganda Tourism Board,(UTB) should get on board and sponsor these athletes.
It is high time the government realized the potential in sports as a billion dollar industry, create favorable legal and policy framework that will enable our sportsmen to catch up with the rest of the world and reap from this garden of talent.
Congratulations to all the 69 members that represented the beautiful Pearl of Africa in the Gold Coast Commonwealth games, you made made us proud. It’s in our prayers that the government comes up in time and facilitate your next events, both on the local and international scene!
What happened to the promised Kiprotich High Performance Training grounds?
Images of the medalists at the Gold Cost Games