President Yoweri Kaguta 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 at a luncheon he and the First Lady, Hon. Janet Museveni, hosted in honor of athletes who have represented the country at various international events.
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 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 performances of our teams, starting with the one of 1954 in Perth, Australia,” he said.
President Museveni welcomed the concept of developing minimum zonal infrastructure to promote sports from the grassroot.
“Having two stadiums per zone in all 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.”
President Museveni underscored the value of sports, citing fitness, character building, teamwork, entertainment, and a source of livelihood for sportsmen and women. “Therefore, sports should be properly understood and explained to our people,” he said.
“Because of that, even when we had little capacity, 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, a silver medal of Shs3m, and then the one of bronze, I think its Shs1m.”
He 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 sportsmen and women that the government was going to allocate a bus to each sports zone in the country.
On her part, Maama Janet lauded the patriotic sportsmen 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 ranks 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 third 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 honored.
“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 place as part of that history,” the Minister said.
Maama Janet also appealed to the government to enhance talent identification and development in more than 75% of the districts by increasing the annual subsidy 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 in 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 subsector, which I attribute to the selfless commitment of the young sportsmen and women, as well as the support from their school administration and the National Sports Federations and Associations,” Maama Janet stressed.
“I also congratulate my team at the Ministry of Education and Sports and the 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 sector, 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 favorably 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, Maama Janet was pleased to report that the Mandela Stadium refurbishment is progressing well.
Mr. Justus Mugisha, the president of Uganda Secondary Schools Sports Association, thanked President Museveni and Maama Janet for supporting sports in the country.
“The support and facilitation you have been giving us has enabled us to continue winning,” Mr. Mugisha said. The top five secondary schools in sports were also awarded. The schools include St. Mary’s Kitende, Kibuli S.S, St. Noah Girls Secondary School, Kawempe Muslim S.S., and Budo S.S.The luncheon was also attended by the Minister of State for Sports, Hon. Peter Ogwang, Members of Parliament, officials from the Ministry of Education and Sports, and the Uganda Secondary Schools Sports Association, among others.