The national soccer team Cranes has got a shot in the arm from their fans ahead of the 2012 CECAFA Cup that kicks off in Kampala next week.
Fans' group Uganda Cranes Initiative (UCI) have this morning launched a sh200m drive to bolster the national soccer team's preparations.
The first intervention by the UCI will see the national team's accommodation upgraded, with the team set to be based at the upscale Rivonia Suites in Mbuya, closer to their training ground.
At a press conference at Rivonia Suites attended by FUFA vice-president Mujib Kasule and Cranes coach Bobby Williamson, the initiative's chairman Robert Kabushenga revealed that Rivonia Suites has offered the accommodation at a discounted rate, as part of their contribution to the Cranes.
"We have made arrangements to move the players from Sky Hotel to Rivonia, which is closer to the training grounds and to Nambole, and also offers much more comfort and better amenities. The gym here is much better equipped, and in general the team will have world class facilities to keep them in the best psychological shape even as they work on their physical shape," Kabushenga told the press.
The sh200million will be used for, among other expenses, purchasing new playing kits for players, upgrading the accommodation of the team during training and games, and improved medical attention during the next one month.
"We all know that the Cranes have been given whatever support the official channels can provide now, so we are now calling on all supporters to top up and guarantee victory in CECAFA. There are millions of fans out there, and if all of them become supporters we can achieve this very easily. If 10,000 people contribute sh20,000 each we will hit this target within no time," Kabushenga said.
"We are also encouraging people to make contributions in kind and to make payments directly to suppliers. We have the FUFA technical team on board and they will keep the Initiative in contact with the suppliers so that if any supporter chooses to pay directly for playing kit or uniforms, they can do so and get the genuine article."
The interventions chosen by the Uganda Cranes Initiative (UCI) also include a total of 250 cartons of bottled drinking water for the team during training and games, which has been offered by Rwenzori Bottling Company.
The UCI also announced that the Uganda Cranes will this Saturday host a Fans' Day at the KCCA Grounds in Lugogo, along Jinja Road.
During the Fans' Day, the Uganda Cranes players will interact with fans and supporters of the team and their families.
"All Ugandans should come and meet their football representatives this Saturday. The team will be training but we will allow them to take breaks to interact with the fans, take photographs and spend time with their public face-to-face. After Saturday they will be in camp and we will not be able to allow any interruptions to training because we need to be focused on the CECAFA task ahead," said Williamson.
The UCI was launched two weeks ago by soccer fans impressed by Cranes showing against Zambia in the recent Nations Cup qualifiers. They seek to turn Cranes fans into supporters and to appeal for public support for the national team.
Kasule welcomed the interventions as timely and "high impact". He said: "The focus on direct benefits to the players is bound to pay off. UCI has decided to address even medical welfare, and will be seeking to get us high quality physiotherapists together with equipment and medicines or treatment that will support high on-pitch performance. We are quite happy with this progress."
How fans can contribute:
Can be sent by Mobile Money to the number 0788 162 001 with the reason 'Cranes'
Deposited directly to the following bank accounts in the name 'New Vision Printing & Publishing Company Limited'
Standard Chartered Bank, Speke Road Branch, (UGX) 0105610690400/ (USD) 8705610690400
Stanbic Bank, Corporate Branch, (UGX) 0140007506601/ (USD) 0240007506601
Contributions by cheque should be written out to 'New Vision Printing & Publishing Company Limited', while cash contributions will be received at The New Vision offices on Plot 19/21, First Street, Industrial Area.