One of the greatest developments in Uganda today is that Sports is now regularly on the Floor of Parliament. Most importantly this time around is that we have our own people in parliament who have not forgotten us. Then, we also have a real sporting parliament for the first time. Most Parliamentarians in the 11th Parliament love sports. This alone could become the main saviour of Ugandan Sports.
Members of the now 11th Parliament saw first-hand in the elections of January 2021 what idle youths can do in this nation. And I believe they fully understand that all the guns in the country may not subdue these youths if they went out of control. Well, at least we have seen such iron hand methods failing before. I think some people believe that it is OK to ignore Sports and keep on underfunding it for a little while longer yet the nation is clearly and visibly sited on a Youth Time Bomb.
Our employment sectors can no longer absorb those youths as they are just too many and their numbers keep on growing. Over 70% of Uganda’s population is now youths. There are certain activities like Sports and Entertainment that appeal naturally to all young people. The only problem with Ugandan Sports has been the limited funding to enable our sector to attract more youths into it. I can tell you now that if any of our Federations announced that it has a competition with 100 million Ugx in prize money, almost all youths in the country would turn their eyes to that sport and the chance to win the money announced.
When youths spend the entire day playing, they will not have any energy left to go rob people at night as their minds will not be empty enough to become the devil’s workshop. My own sport of Table Tennis has just completed a five weeks program that saw 120 new girls added to our list of players. For five weeks non-stop, we engaged 120 girls in table tennis and for this entire time, their minds were occupied with playing.
The devil had totally no room to implant any funny ideas into the minds of these girls. The girls have had so much fun and I can assure you they are going to continue playing because, during those five weeks, they also fell in love with the sport. This is the power of sports that very many other sectors do not possess and we did it with a budget of only 5 million shillings.
By direct mathematics, this means that if we had 500 million Ugx for such a project, we would have enrolled 12,000 girls all over Uganda. If this happened for all the 51 sports federations of Uganda, then we would get 612,000 youths enrolled in sports in just about 30 days. Therefore, in a full year, we can have 7.3 million youths enrolled in Sports. This without a doubt would reduce the country’s burden with youth idleness and crime.
Lately, we are also having young people being confused and driven into dangerous crimes like suicide bombing. It is so obvious that this only happens to youths who have nothing to do the whole day. Then, we have also seen what the recent lockdowns have done to our girls with unfortunate things like pregnancies and the like. All this is the devil’s work inside the minds of our young people who so are idle and just sited at home with plenty of free time.
It is now very clear as to why our country must invest in the sports sector. The money spent dealing with the effects of the idle minds of the youths better be given to sports to prevent those negative effects before they occur. The 11th Parliament has seen this and they are willing to act on it. I just want to tell them and the whole country that we shall not disappoint them. We shall do our part to mop up youth idleness in the country. With proper funding, we shall also go the extra mile of training great players that enable our country to tap foreign income from the global 700 billion US Dollar Sports industry.
Just like our current Sports MPs, I can assure the other MPs that as Sports Federations, we shall not forget them. We shall return the favour. I can tell the MPs now that there is a quiet plan among the Federations to pull interested MPs closer to our games then we deploy resources so that together, we develop sports in their constituencies for crime prevention, reducing lifestyle diseases, reducing the constituency’s health budget, creation of more productive Ugandans as well as keeping children in school through the allure of sports.
Our intervention will also help teach their constituents how to lose or win peacefully and thereby promote national peace and cohesion.
The MPs can trust that ours being a well-regulated sector under the National Council of Sports (NCS), we are also very easy to galvanize towards any national cause. We really appreciate the dedication that the 11th Parliament has given us and may God bless them. We pray that their deliberations yield positive results for the Ugandan Sports Sector and for the numerous youths in our country today.
The Writer is Jjagwe Robert, the President of the Uganda Table Tennis Association (UTTA) and Secretary-General of the Union of Uganda Sports Federations and Associations (UUSFA).