16 February 2017

Uganda: National Council of Sports and Uganda Olympic Committee Need to Work Together

opinion

The dispute between Uganda Olympic Committee (UOC) and National Council of Sports (NCS) is a question of sports administration. At the outset I wish to state that UOC and NCS objectives are similar, namely to spread sports activities throughout Uganda. Understanding this objective has eluded the general secretaries at NCS. This means that UOC and NCS are at par or at the same level in promoting sports throughout Uganda. National Council of Sports oversees associations affiliated to it and channels it's funds the way they are mandated to do. UOC meanwhile sponsors sports administrations courses for sports administrators from the various associations affiliated to it and also gives scholarships to athletes at various levels, including promising young athletes.

National Council of Sports was created by an Act of Parliament, but Uganda Olympic Committee is composed of member associations whose sports discipline are competed for in the Olympic Games. UOC or the National Olympic Committee is affiliated to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). IOC is also composed of National Olympic Committees. In 1924, Count Pierre Courbertin and other national representatives from other countries in Europe founded the modern Olympic Movement and their aim was to avoid government interference in sports and to organise Olympic Games, that is why the Olympic Games are awarded to cities and not to governments. As can be seen, Uganda Olympic Committee must have been formed and affiliated to IOC after NCS. IOC is governed by the Olympic charter and therefore National Olympic Committees also observe this charter. One of the regulations involves dispute resolution, which is not to be taken to civil courts but to sports courts of arbitration.

IOC invites National Olympic Committees to send teams to participate in the Olympic Games and UOC is mandated to send that list for accreditation to the Olympic Games and Commonwealth Games but not National Council of Sports.

It, therefore, requires good working relationships to make it possible for some members from NCS to be included in the contingent to the games and the head of the delegation is the president of the National Olympic Committee.

In the years when the Olympic Games are held, TV rights and other marketing deals give IOC money which they use to improve sports administration, train young athletes - in different age groups for different sports, to various National Olympic Committees, including UOC - where financial support for training and development of Olympic teams, athletes and promising athletes are supported.

These scholarships have been offered to young promising athletes in Uganda through UOC. National Council of Sports has also given sports scholarships to many students especially for sports students to go to university and also availed government funding to various sports.

From above, the Olympic charter does not allow government interference in UOC functioning and I personally thought it was not proper for UOC to hire the buildings they are now using, from National Council of Sports.

Therefore, the associations that are members of UOC form UOC and the general assembly of UOC is the supreme organ of UOC and there is nothing NCS can do to stop UOC general assembly from taking place. Many sports administrators lack sports administration knowledge and cause them to make mistakes. Sports administration is not straight forward.

I attended an Olympic solidarity course sponsored by IOC through UOC to learn the above. Many associations would gain a lot from this type of sponsorship. In the course we learnt how competing brands cannot be approached by the same association for sponsorship. In illustration, you may recall how the former chairman of National Council of Sports resigned, when the chairman of Basketball Federation wanted to hold competitions in MTN Arena sponsored by Airtel, yet MTN (a competitor) had been sponsoring basketball and had repaired the playing surface of the court a second time. Also taught were techniques of holding or preparing for competitions are essential for the organisation of sports to enable our teams perform at the highest levels. It is also possible to get the administration knowledge from respective international federations and sometimes these courses are sponsored by the IOC through the international federation to the local federation.

Separation of power is possible when the general secretary of NCS understands that the Olympic charter prevents government interference in Uganda Olympic Committee matters, including elections because it is a government arm and that UOC takes care of some of the responsibilities which fall in NCS docket.

Also government has been sponsoring the Olympic teams and UOC should also appreciate this and see the necessity to work in harmony.

Mr Okoth is a FIDE trainer and national coach, Uganda Chess Federation and represented Uganda as a player in various chess Olympiad.

Uganda

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