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Former MP Odonga Otto should stop misleading Ugandans on sports

The Uganda Cranes line-up against Burkina Faso last year. FILE PHOTO @OFFICIALmedia

COMMENT | Felix Okuye |  Former Aruu County Member of Parliament Odonga Otto claims that if he was made the sports minister, Uganda would have already qualified for the World Cup, and would be regulars at the soccer finals.

“If I were the Minister for Sports in Uganda, I would take Uganda to AFCON and the World Cup. I know what to do and that is what I studied in Spain-Real Madrid,” he boasted, months after telling everyone that he has a masters in International sports from a one Real Madrid Graduate School-Universidad Europea.

The MP went on to make several allegations implying  financial missuse by the Uganda Olympics Commitee (UOC) and and football governing body FUFA, in relation to funding from their international bodies IOC and FUFA.

Former MP Odonga Otto should avoid missleading Ugandans, as all facts contradict his statement, which I guess was part of a theoretical presentation while studying his masters.

First, the Uganda Olympics Committee (UOC) which has a membership of 32 national federations and associations, is a member of International Olympics Committee. UOC runs a budget of about sh3 billion per year with its major source of income being the International Olympics Committee (IOC). Each Federation is entitled, therefore, to just $1,250 as official support grant per year. So FUFA is only entitled to $1250 per year, as one of a family of 32, from UOC.

All the funds also come earmarked for particular activities of each federation, which are in line with the IOC strategic plan. UOC has quarterly financial reports to its members and audited books presented at their annual AGM.

Government of Uganda supports UOC through the National Council of Sports when the Olympics Games, Commonwealth Games and Islamic Games are held. They support only the national teams that have qualified for these games which are so competitive.

UOC receives funding from Government for participating in the Olympics but even these funds are channeled through National Council of Sports. These funds are for facilitating the preparations and participation in Olympics for the National Teams that have qualified.

Also take note that not all sports are in the Olympic Sports Calendar. The Commonwealth Games and Islamic Games take place once every 4 years, the most recent being the Commonwealth and Olympics that are fresh on our minds because Team Uganda registered some medals.

People like Odonga Otto in my opinion have no moral right to comment about sports funding in Uganda, and I will explain why.

Odonga Otto was MP from 2001. Does any one recall what did while he was in parliament in regards to sports funding?

At about the time Otto was a newly elected to parliament, the Uganda Cranes had no uniforms for an international qualifier and it is said that they bought second hand stock from Owino Market. The same team at about the same time put on an Inter Milan jersey for an international engagement at Nakivubo. What did Odongo Otto do about it? He was in parliament then.

We all know that parliament influences which sector gets funding and how much funding it gets. Let us all interest ourselves first with the budget of National Council of Sports (NCS), before making any theoretic arguments about their failure to deliver.

Until around 2015, NCS hardly received a 1 billion shillings allocation in the National Budget for over 50 National Federations and Associations which have National Teams to prepare for international engagements such as World Cups and Continental Championships. What did Odongo Otto do about that?

Instead, speaking in his comfort room and speaking carelessly after being rejected by his electorate, he goes on to make it look like the only problem Ugandan sport faces is money, or the misuse of money.

It is only in FUFA President Moses Magogo’s reign, and the period he was an executive member under Lawrence Mulindwa, that FUFA has secured some noticeable funding particularly for the national team, the Uganda Cranes. This has always come direct from the President of Uganda’s office, and not from the NCS budget.

Today, Government of Uganda has increased sports funding after the likes of Hamson Obua, former State Minister of Sports,  Magogo and now Ogwang who is State Minister of Sports and many sports minded MPs have made sports a popular topic on the floor of parliament. The have been advocating for sports to be considered with an appropriate budget allocation.

The 2022-23 budget now has an allocation of a record sh38 billion in the national envelope  just for sports.

Where was Odonga Otto who joined parliament as a youthful MP. Can anyone show me any records from parliament on his contribution?

Finally, how many Uganda Cranes’ games has Odonga Otto attended since he became a national figure or even how much did he influence in line with sports in his own electorate that could influence Uganda’s qualigying for the World Cup?

My view is he has no moral right to speak about sports in Uganda because he failed it right from the word go when he ought to have advocated for it. Now, having attained a level of opinion leadership he now takes on the position of misleading people with distorted facts.

Odonga Otto ought to have done research being a learned fellow. It’s true as Ugandans we long to make it to the FIFA World Cup but this comes only with planning strategically.

He needs to know that only 79 Countries in the world have made it to the 25 FIFA World Cups Finals out of the 211 National Associations that make up FIFA and only 8 Countries – Italy, Spain, Brazil, Germany, Uruguay, Argentina, England and France have won the World Cup.

In regard to FIFA funding to FUFA, the funds are documented and also FUFA has audited books which are available to the public. Odonga Otto is not fair to Ugandans when he verbally exaggerates the figures.

Odonga Otto should effectively educate himself about World Cup, seek audience with FUFA in order to get a sober answer as to when will Uganda deserve to go to the World Cup.

 

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Felix Okuye is the President Uganda Baseball and Softball Association.

 

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