President Yoweri Museveni has pledged that government will boost support to the sports sector, especially by putting in place the necessary infrastructure that meets international standards, so as to develop the sports industry in Uganda.
The President was speaking during a luncheon he co-hosted with First Lady Janet, who is also Education and Sports Minister, for the Uganda Cranes and the SHE Cranes, at his country home in Rwakitura, Kiruhuura District.
The President said although government has overtime been pre-occupied and dedicated most of her resources to crucial areas of the economy such as the road and electricity sectors, it was high time the country invested more resources to sectors such as sports which touch a big fraction of the population and have become a source of livelihood for many.
"We have to plan and invest in sports because it touches majority of Ugandans. We have 9.5 million children in primary, 2.5 in secondary and about 1 million in universities, technical colleges and other high institutions of learning and that is a big percentage of our population that can't be ignored, " he said.
The President however challenged the education and sports ministry to plan properly for the sports sector if the country is to excel in sports. He said even if resources were in place if there is no proper planning little would be achieved.
He congratulated the Uganda Cranes that finished 8th in Africa in the just concluded World Cup qualifiers and the SHE Cranes who are currently ranked 7th in the world, commending them for excelling even with minimal support from the government.
President Museveni however said the surge in numbers in schools and other learning institutions, which have become sports breeding grounds is because of other government programmes like immunization and universal education, which must be commended.
He added that although sports was largely for fitness and entertainment in the past it has now become a big source of employment and income thus deserving serious attention.
The President therefore asked the Education ministry to embark on a process of identifying talent from a number of disciplines and ensure that government takes them over and nurtures them.
He proposed that such talented people should be attached to government departments such as the army, the police and prisons so that they can easily be facilitated and given training time and facilities.
The President used the occasion to flag-off the Uganda Cranes team that will leave tomorrow to represent the country in the CHAN competitions that are taking place this month in Morocco.
Mrs. Janet Museveni, the Education and Sports minister, thanked the Uganda Cranes and the SHE Cranes for their performances over the years that have lifted the country's name and flag high.
She said although overtime sports has been known for building healthier nations through exercising, a new component of sports as a source of income has made it even more popular.
She, however, warned that the entry of big money into the sports sector poses a great danger to both the industry and sports personalities.
She advised young sportspeople against selling their souls to money and abandoning their country to seek citizenship of other countries that dangle money at them. She advised that they should always put God first in their engagements.
Eng. Moses Magogo, the president of the Federation of Uganda Footballers Association, said sports is a strong emerging industry in Uganda whose natural resource is talent that he said is readily available and abundant.
He further said sports are a serious tool for mobilisation and source of employment that deserves all the support.
Magogo hailed the Uganda Cranes as a great team that finished 8th in the just concluded World Cup qualifiers and said if African slots at the competition had increased to 10 like will be the case in 2022, Uganda would have qualified.
He also said that the Uganda Cranes in only team in Africa to qualify for the CHAN competition for the fourth time in a row.
The president of Uganda Netball Federation, Susan Anek, decried the lack of the official training grounds for the SHE Cranes that meets the international standards.
She said that although the SHE Cranes are a giant and respected worldwide, they are unable to host international matches because they lack globally-accepted facilities.