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Fuba on spot over lack of own court

Action from the league between UPDF Tomahawks and Power at the YMCA courts last year

Action from the league between UPDF Tomahawks and Power at the YMCA courts last year

On February 23, 2024, organisers of the national basketball league were forced to cancel scheduled games because the YMCA court in Wandegeya and the Lugogo indoor stadium were both unavailable.

This shed a dark spot on the Federation of Uganda Basketball Associations (Fuba), who ironically realized the urgency to own a home. While organized basketball in Uganda started in 1995, a suggestion that the Fuba remains relatively young, it paints an ironic picture of the sport with a national team competing internationally, yet it has no firm base it calls a home of its own.

Bob Buga has been around the sport of basketball since it became organized as far back as mentioned earlier. His club, Charging Rhinos, won the league in 1997. On top of that, he was Fuba vice-president between 2007 and 2011. One thing he agrees with is that it is a shame that the game is in such a state.

“Having infrastructure and facilities was something we prioritized almost 20 years ago. That is why we had the partnership with MTN, that led to the renovation of the indoor stadium. Since MTN were our partners, we had first asking on the indoor stadium. But we do not have that now, hence the inconvenience,” Buga said.

CLEAR DIRECTION

Tom Ocamringa, who was the general secretary of Fuba, added that while the government plays a big hand in developing sports infrastructure, as a basketball fraternity, waiting for that to happen is not a good thing. By now, Ocamringa noted, partnering with other development organizations is the kind of initiative that should have been taken.

“Until a business model for basketball is structured, it is difficult to attract infrastructure development partners. For instance, modern playgrounds these days must provide recreation centres such as restaurants. If Fuba prioritized securing land leases to develop such amenities, it is easier to attract partners to help you develop it, provided a clear direction is set. But is it there now?” Ocamringa wondered.

But Hudson Ssegamwenge, the current Fuba vice-president, insisted that Fuba cannot be blamed for the current crisis.

“We have engaged the international body, Fiba on the matter for years now. And while they promised to help us, their condition is that we find the land, which we have failed to because it is expensive,” Ssegamwenge said.

Yet, Buga does not think Fuba needs to buy land, to have a home. Securing a lease agreement is what they ought to focus on, Buga reasoned. And according to Buga, it is possible if they have their focus on it. Buga continued that Fuba has the goodwill of the public, which can help fundraise for a basketball home.

According to Ocamringa, a court like the YMCA can cost Shs 200m. Compare that to Shs 350m, which Fuba spent on the Silverbacks travelling to Tunisia for the three-day competition.

The question lingering is; what should have come first: Uganda playing international games, or having a home of basketball? Fuba receives at least Shs 1 billion every year from government through the National Council of Sports (NCS). But Ssegamwenge said that money is received under strict instruction, to be used on national teams.

Robert Jjagwe, the Uganda Table Tennis Association president, said he does not understand where that policy of concentrating on foreign trips for sports started. His argument is that it is illogical to be competing internationally, yet you have no facilities to nurture players.

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