President Yoweri Museveni has advised athletes that they must be disciplined if they want to go far with their sports careers.
“Alcohol, prostitution, fighting and all that, don’t go well with sports and they can ruin your life. Sports must go with discipline and the fear of the Lord, then your future will be bright,” President Museveni said.
The President made the remarks on Wednesday as he hosted a group of athletes to a State luncheon at State House Entebbe. The luncheon was organised by the President and the First Lady who also serves as the Minister of Education and Sports, Janet Museveni.
The athletes included those who participated in the World Athletics Championships in Budapest-Hungary and National School Teams that participated in the Federation of East Africa Secondary Schools Sports Association (FEASSSA).
President Museveni also congratulated the teams that have been doing well for Uganda in the past years.
“In the recent past, you have just heard about the performance in Oregon, Budapest and in Rwanda. Before that we had Tokyo where we watched the Olympics. I really want to thank you. I’m an old sportsman and a sports enthusiast as well as some sort of sports historian because I have been watching the performance of our teams, starting with the one of 1954 in Perth, Australia,” he said.
President Museveni revealed that sports development in Uganda was a bit delayed due to bad politics in the past regimes where the country’s economy totally collapsed.
“But even during that bad time in 1972, that is when Akii-Bua won his hurdles in Munich, Germany. By the time we came into the government in 1986, the system of the country had really collapsed. Therefore, we concentrated on minimum recovery of the economy, the expansion of the small modern sector, diversification and then introducing the new sectors which were not there before,” he said.
“What I can say now is that we have not yet started because we have not really done so much for sports specifically. We have not yet started seriously to take advantage of our potential.”
President Museveni also welcomed the concept of developing minimum zonal infrastructure to promote sports from the grassroot.
“Having two stadiums per zone in all the 19 zones. That is a very good idea, we shall study it and we shall have to determine whether we put this zonal infrastructure in schools or one in school and one in public. That would be a very good beginning for those zonal competitions to take place.”
On the other hand, the President underscored the role of sports in the country.
“I always tell you the value of sports, they are good for fitness , character building, it trains people about the good thing of cooperation since sports needs teamwork, entertainment for the spectators and finally it has become a source of living for the sports people. Therefore, sports should be properly understood and explained to our people,” he said.
“Because of that, even when we had little capacity, that is when I undertook that effort of saying that anybody who wins a gold medal, my Office of State House will give him a monthly stipend of Shs5m, silver medal Shs3m, then the one of bronze I think its Shs1m.”
The President also promised that the beneficiaries that have since missed out on the offer ever since it was put in place, were going to receive their full payments.
He further reiterated his call to attach personalities who are doing well in sports into the prisons, police, army and Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA), saying that this will help them to have an address and a small salary.
President Museveni also informed the sports men and women that the government was going to allocate a bus to each sports zone in the country.
On her part, Janet Museveni lauded the patriotic sports men and women for bringing great pride to Uganda.
“The World Athletics Championship hosted 195 countries and Uganda was ranked 11th out of the 39 countries that won medals. It is worth noting that Uganda ranked higher than renowned countries such as: Australia, Greece, Japan, France and China, and for that, all Honor and glory goes to our God. Furthermore, Uganda was placed 3rd, in Africa after Kenya and Ethiopia. We thank God for this achievement,” the First Lady said.
She urged the sports men and women to work harder to ensure that Uganda becomes the best in the sports arena of Africa and the world at large.
“We may have improved on our sports record as we see here but being number 3 or number 11 is not enough, we should work more to be the best.”
At the same event, Joshua Cheptegei and Victor Kiplangat were honoured.
“Our celebrated Gold Medalists! We note with gratitude that Joshua Cheptegei has won Gold at this event, three times: in Doha 2019, Oregon 2022 and Budapest 2023. Victor Kiplangat, on the other hand, is the reigning Commonwealth Games Marathon Champion for Birmingham 2022. In addition to this remarkable track record, some athletes set “Personal Bests Records” and “Season Bests Records”, at the Championship and thus by the efforts of our athletes, Uganda earned her space as part of that history,” the Minister said.
Janet also appealed to the Government to enhance talent identification and development in more than 75% of the districts, by increasing the Annual Subvention to the Uganda Athletics Federation, from the current amount of 3 billion, to at least 10 billion Uganda shillings.
“We also urge the Government to promote this sport, by paying stipends to athletes who win medals at all the continental and global events, and to take into account the current outstanding pledges and stipends,” she said.
“Furthermore, we call for the operationalization of the National Anti-doping Organization (NADO) in Uganda, to avoid the Country being declared non-compliant. This will require minor amendments to the recently passed National Sports Act, so as to enable compliance with the World Anti-doping Agency (WADA) Code.”
She further appealed to the Government, to support the hosting of the Annual Continental Cross Country Tour, which will carry on the legacy of the World Cross Country Championships Kampala 2017; and the Africa U18 and U20 Athletics Championships in 2025.
The First Lady also tasked sports stakeholders to direct more attention to the FEASSSA teams that have carried Uganda’s National Flag to various international competitions, where they emerged victorious.
“Today, we stand tall, filled with pride and deep gratitude for the achievements in the Sports Sub Sector, which I attribute to the selfless commitment of the young sports men and women, as well as the support from their school administration, and the National Sports Federations and Associations,” she stressed.
“I also congratulate my Team at the Ministry of Education and Sports, and National Council of Sports for their dedication and support. These successes demonstrate that the Government is now receiving a positive return on investment from the Sports Subsector, which has significantly increased Uganda’s international marketing and foreign exchange earnings, while also promoting our socio-economic development,” she added.
The Minister further highlighted that Uganda now competes favourably in the international sports arena, because of the firm foundation created in sports in schools, explaining that the scope of international competitions is now broader than in the past, with school sports competitions going beyond the Federation of East African Secondary School Sports Games.
Regarding the national development of sports infrastructure, the First Lady was pleased to report that the Mandela Stadium refurbishment is progressing well.