Parliament has asked Government to consider increasing funding for sports, saying that the subsector has potential to create meaningful employment especially for the youth and boost tourism to attract revenue.
The lawmakers resolved that besides increasing budgetary allocations to sports in the next financial year, Government should as well present a performance reward policy for sports men and women who excel in various disciplines at the international scene.
Parliament also wants a review of the legal framework that governs the sports subsector including the National Council of Sports Act to bring it up to speed with the changing trends in the games and sports arena.
The resolutions followed, Moses Magogo’s (Budiope East MP) motion moving Parliament to congratulate the Ugandan team for their stellar performance at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics that saw the country bag two gold medals, one silver and bronze medals.
One after the other, the MPs that took to the floor praised the Ugandan team for lifting the country’s flag high and called out Government for inadequate funding of the subsector, during a plenary sitting chaired by Deputy Speaker, Anita Among on August 17, 2021.
William Chemonges (Kween MP) who seconded the motion asked Parliamentarians to each consider parting with a minimum contribution of Shs200, 000 towards supporting the construction of the Joshua Cheptegei Training Centre.
“In this Parliament, we have been congratulating sportsmen and women for a very long time. It is high time that we move beyond the congratulations; I wish that as we congratulate our sports Men/Women, we move from speech to action,” Asuman Basalirwa (Bugiri Municipality MP) challenged Government to walk the talk.
He expressed concern that there has been a lot of unfulfilled promises by the Government to the sportsmen and women and that there was no clear legal framework for rewarding the winning sports personalities.
Parliament further resolved that government fast-tracks; completion of the Teryet High Altitude Training Centre, renovation of Mandela National Stadium, acquisition, renovation, construction and maintenance of Regional, National and International standard sports facilities.
The House also wants Government to fulfill its commitments and pledges made to all sports personalities who won medals before 2021 particularly current World Champion Halima Nakayi and Davis Kamoga.
Magogo highlighted that the Uganda Olympics team won medals in different athletics categories; Joshuo Cheptegei, who is the current 5,000 Meters and I0, 000 Meters World Recorder Holder, won a Gold Medal in the Men’s 5,000M and a Silver Medal in the Men’s 10,000M; Peruth Chemutai won a Gold Medal in the Women’s 3,000 Meters steeplechase, and Jacob Kiplimo won a Bronze Medal in the Men’s 10,000 Meters.
He noted that the four medals won by the Uganda Olympics team in Tokyo were the highest number of Medals Uganda has won in a single entry since 1956 when Uganda first participated in the Olympics Games;
The motion received overwhelming support from the members, however, the Legislators demanded a more deliberate approach towards the funding, management and general support towards the sports sector.
Troro District Woman MP, Sarah Opendi challenged the MPs to stop lamenting but rather find ways to ensure that the government addresses the concerns in the sports sector.
“Every time we get success in sports we come here in the house to lament but when we leave, it becomes the usual story of the sports sector not being facilitated. We need to stop lamenting but rather ask the Government to take action now and for all by following up on these pledges and commitments during the budgeting process,” Said Opendi.
Joel Ssenyonyi (Nakawa West MP), called upon the executive to be more deliberate in making national priorities for instance the pending promises for a pension scheme for all Nationally acclaimed athletes, provision of incentives for private sector investment in sports and the promise to give Uganda Cranes, one million dollars after they qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations held in Egypt.
On his part, Gilbert Olanya (Kilak South) was wary that if deliberate measures are not taken to strengthen and nature games and sports in schools, several young talents that would make it to the national scene might go unnoticed.
“There are so many schools without playing grounds and the Ministry of Education and Sports is busy giving them licenses, allowing them to operate because the concentration is on academics alone but that is wrong. We need to promote and encourage games and sports right from the tender age during Primary School,” said Olanya.
Kira municipality MP, Ibrahim Ssemujju Nganda, congratulated the team saying that is a good story to tell about Uganda outside the stories of security personnel beating citizens including unarmed women and children.
“There are not many things to be proud of about our country. The other day you all saw the images the President was displaying on the Television. Soldiers beating and torturing people. I contrasted these images with the ones of the Minister for Education when she was cheering up our athletes and thought to myself that that is what we should be selling to the world but unfortunately, 40 years of NRMs stay in power we don’t even have a single stadium that meets international standards,” Ssemujju chided.
Among was concerned about the cost implication for officials who were more than the athletes traveling with the national team saying this is illogical but the state minister for sports, Hamson Obua defended it saying that for each Athlete a team of experts has to be by their side if they are to excel.
Responding to the concerns raised by MPs, Obua, noted that he had taken note of them and that he would present them to the cabinet for consideration.
He told the members that the Ministry of Education and Sports is reviewing the 2004 Sports Policy before the National Council for Sports Act 1964 is repealed.
He further informed the members that the government through the Ministry of Education and Sports and Uganda Tourism Board have extended an invitation to Rob Walker the famous Olympics commentator and BBC journalist who proudly talked about Uganda’s beautiful features including “Nile Special” for an all-expenses paid for visit to Uganda for possible partnerships.