Uganda planning to defend the East African Schools title, President Yoweri Museveni hosted part of the contingent yesterday to a luncheon at the State House Entebbe where he gave an elaborate send-off to the 855 athletes going to Arusha for the 10-day long games.
The unfair allocation of slots especially to swimming left a bitter taste on the lips of officials but the President was interested in giving selected athletes friendly advice.
"Stop smoking. Stop alcohol. Stop running after girls or boys," Museveni counselled as he offered a light speech punctuated with jokes about his mandatory participation in sports through cattle rearing. He cautioned athletes against distractions in life that could hinder the progress of their careers stressing a balance between sports and academics.
In his off-the-cuff remarks, Museveni made no financial offer to the team that leaves amidst a pinch that has challenged some of the 63 teams that will represent the country in 13 games.
But team captain Anthony Tukamuheebwa of Mbarara High School a discus athlete, said going to the State House is big a motivation to the team.
"It shows that we are recognised and that makes us perform better and you never know good things will follow," the 18-year-old said.
He also vowed to better his 41.04m distance at the annual games.
While the teams that were at State House were waiting impatiently from the time they arrived at 9am until 3pm when he addressed them in a tent outside the usual meeting room, a mass immunisation of yellow fever was going on at Old Kampala SS before the teams departed early this morning.
Under the bright Entebbe skies where even the cool breeze from Lake Victoria was not enough, the President joked about work ethics and discouraged cheating by saying the Saving (long distance masters in running), cheat by virtue of their location in higher altitudes.
After a sumptuous meal the President and the athletes gathered at the State House steps for the official leavetakings.
"We believe in you, we want you to win and you're going to win because sports has improved a lot during this regime."
The President was given a promise by Charles Bakkabulindi, the state minister of sports.
"We have prepared well an we pledge to you that we will bring back as much gold as possible," Bakkabulindi said.
The contingent of athletes leaves by a motorcade to Arusha where swimmers will be in action on Saturday before the opening ceremony on Tuesday September 20. The contingent includes teams for football (boys and girls), swimming, handball, volleyball and Athletics, among others
After the events, Museveni entered into a meeting with striking teachers who demand a salary increase.
Netball: St Noa, Buddo, Ngando and
Handball (Girls): Kibuli and Mbogo.
Handball (Boys): St Lucia, Kakungulu and
Volleyball (Boys): Standard High, Mbogo
Volleyball (Girls): Kinaawa HS and Trust.
Basketball (boys): Kibuli, Seroma, Buddo
Basketball (girls): Kitende, Nabisunsa and
Football (boys): Buddo SS, Standard High
Zzana, Jinja SS and Kitende.
Football (girls): Mukono High, St Noa,
Rugby 7s: Hana, Kiira College, Jinja SS
Rugby 15s: St Mary's Kisubi, Namiryango