The minister of State for Sport Hon. Hamson Obua has asked the national boxing team (Bombers) to maintain the positive attitude and high spirits he found on his visit to the camp on Wednesday.
The hands-on minister visited the camp alongside National council of sports (NCS) Secretary General Dr. Bernard Patrick Ogwel and Uganda boxing federation (UBF) president Moses Muhangi. NCS Deputy Secretary General David Katende and UBF Executive were also part of the tour.
The Bombers are camped in Luzira prisons preparing for the forthcoming Africa Olympic qualifiers due this month, February 20-29 in Dakar, Senegal. The minister asked the Bombers to keep the humility, discipline and hard work as they aim at rising the Ugandan flag high.
“I came here on a special invitation of the UBF President and I have been able to witness the circumstances in camp. Sport is practical and is in the field. That is why I will engage the stakeholders more from the field. I have understood where the medals are made from but we should not lose hope despite the unfavorable conditions. I am just two weeks into the office but I can promise that the situation will change. It may not change at once or soon, but the ministry led by the minister of education and sports, who is also the First Lady Hon. Janet Museveni is committed to seeing that the national athletes are facilitated well and the national sports budget is improved,” noted Obua, who advised the UBF leadership to regularly engage his office.
“You should not settle for less. Many successful athletes come from such unfavorable conditions. Most outstanding sports persons come from the ghetto and thus despite the circumstances you should die a little for yourself and country whilst playing safe. The good thing is that the president stipend for international medalists is in place where the Gold, Silver and Bronze winners are entitle to Shs5m, Shs3m and Shs1m respectively for the rest of their lives,” added the minister, who also promised to follow up on the issues raised by the boxing president.
In his speech, Muhangi reported to the minister that the Bombers cannot access the NCS gym and hostels because they were hired out to private investors while the only national boxing ring is hired by all the combat sport which makes it unavailable at time when UBF wants to use it.
Muhangi also asked the minister to help the Bombers get equipment and also add the medalists from last year All Africa Games to the presidential monthly stipend list. NCS’ Ogwel explained that there has been delay in money from the finance ministry to fully fund the Bombers but at least NCS has already extended Shs43m for this Bombers camp and will facilitate more when the funds for the quarter come-in.
“We have already processed travel air tickets, worked on the team allowances, paid 50% of the accommodation in Dakar as well as securing insurance for the team. Government fully funds four international tournaments; Commonwealth games, All Africa Games, Olympic Games and East Africa Community games,” noted Ogwel, who also confirmed that the three medalists from 2019 All Africa Games are part of the presidential stipend.
He said that the gym is run with a private investor for a period of time who partnered with NCS to give it a face-lift while the hostels would not take the number of boxers. The Bombers are having double training session in the morning and evening with more emphasis put on speed, agility and swift use of the jab, according to head coach Patrick Lihanda. Thirteen (13) boxers (8 men and 5 women) will represent the country in Senegal.