IGG finally solves disputes in sports sector in Uganda

IGG finally solves disputes in sports sector in Uganda

By Jjagwe Robert

On Thursday afternoon, we got yet another interesting intervention in which the Inspector General of Government (IGG) ordered the National Council of Sports (NCS) to send development assistance funds to the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF).

This comes because UNF reported to the IGG that despite submitting accountability to NCS, this accountability was queried under unfair circumstances and as a result NCS has refused to advance funding to UNF since this financial year began in July 2022.

In 2022, we had Parliament of Uganda coming in to resolve our long standing disagreement over lack of a sports funds distribution criteria. I have also heard about the First Lady chairing meetings to resolve the current netball-NCS dilemma and now the IGG has issued orders to sort out a lack of funding to netball.

We really need to have a good internal resolution of these matters by ourselves without waiting for other people to intervene. One thing for sure is that innocent players, coaches, clubs and schools cannot be left to suffer due to disagreements between just a few individuals.

An entire sport cannot be ear marked for destruction because a few individuals at the helm of the concerned institutions have failed to agree with one another. With everything I have seen and heard since I joined Ugandan sports, we must rise above this kind of evil.

There must be a separation of individualized egos and positions from institutional management practices. I myself almost suffered this in Table Tennis because NCS totally refused to help our team even after we had had a good agreeable understanding on how to help that team to travel to Djibouti for the recent concluded Regional Senior Championships at which we brought back 2 vital medals for the country (Silver and Bronze). Up to now we totally do not have the facilitation NCS promised.

You have to wonder what exactly some of our colleagues at this institution are thinking about how the table tennis team travelled and survived in Djibouti. One thing for sure is that they left it to rot away in Uganda and did not care if it travelled or not. If I had not done what I did, used my own funds, got assistance from our friends at the UOC, the entire TT team would have stayed in Uganda and that would have spelt doom for the innocent players and their careers. This is not good at all.

I want to appeal to some of our colleagues at NCS to call for genuine talks to de-escalate these detrimental matters. This is about the 6th time I am requesting these talks. Even if they are not official, no problem because sometimes problems are difficult to solve in official meetings but a bit easier to resolve in unofficial meetings.

I remember at the height of my war with NCS in 2018, all it took was an intervention by then Board Chairman Onyik Bosco and Dr. Ogwel Bernard to meet me unofficially and we agreed to de-escalate hostilities and the war ended there and then.

Uganda’s Benjamin Achuma (R) in action in Djibouti. Courtesy photo.

Those of you who followed this war know very well that it was about to become a nuclear war with very disastrous outcomes for some people. But one unofficial meeting and that was it.

We should not be allowing outsiders like Parliament and the IGG to resolve our matters. We can resolve these matters ourselves. For instance the Funding guidelines that had given us a lot of headache were resolved by Parliament then of course NCS refused to respect the Parliamentary appropriations sparking off another hot disagreement which has now called in the IGG. You can imagine.

Can we really not resolve our issues ourselves? Failure to do so is what is keeping all this negative publicity and energy in the air and yet some things are very simple to iron out even by simple Logic.

For example, if there are some problems with the current UNF leadership of Sarah Babirye, does that mean that the entire netball sport plus all its athletes and coaches should now be left to suffer and their careers destroyed? Is that where we really are?

Because that then becomes illogical, cold hearted and very evil. We really need to have genuine and resolute dialogue to resolve our issues and avoid all this persistent negativity in the Air.

This sometimes calls for both the official and unofficial engagements. And it sometimes calls for the involvement of other people who are not even the line leaders we know. But as long as we can get the peaceful result we need, then let all these efforts be explored.

Allowing other people to keep resolving our problems is a very serious sign that something is terribly wrong somewhere. I appeal again that as the sports family we try our best to bring peace in our home ourselves. There is nothing impossible in this world. All these complaints causing trouble have complainants. If the complainant is sorted out then the problem can be resolved.

If North Korea and South Korea, sometime in the past almost went to nuclear war but they later resolved their disagreements, then how about we the much smaller people in Ugandan Sports?

In 2018 the North and South Korean women’s table tennis teams joined hands and played together as one unified team under one flag to show the much cherished desire to foster peace between these two nations.

If people about to almost shed blood can agree to work for peace, how about us here in mere Ugandan sports? So no one should think that peace in our sports sector is not possible even with all the current hot issues going on.

All it takes is a deliberate and non-egoistic effort to genuinely engage a peaceful de-escalation of hostilities. And this means several meetings both official and unofficial but with sincere peace at heart. But in many cases such efforts must be initiated by the authority who seemingly and realistically has more power in the ensuing detrimental feud.

The Writer is the President of the Uganda Table Tennis Association (UTTA) .

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