“The tournament showed that the margin between the haves and have not(s) has thinned… That shows that we are more than capable of holding our own against any one.” Those were the words of the Uganda Cranes coach, Micho Sredojevic, on the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Equatorial Guinea.
Indeed, majority of the local fans thought that if Uganda can beat Ghana, and the Black Stars – as the West Africans are called – can go up to the final of the Afcon, then surely the Cranes have a chance of not just competing in the tournament but doing well too.
On top of Uganda seeing off Guinea here and losing away, the Cranes also picked a point in Kumasi before beating Ghana at Namboole. But that it is still Guinea and Ghana, who qualified to play in Afcon leaves Uganda with a lot of soul searching.
The idea of playing in this tournament and other well-rated ones should not be a far-off dream. What lets the country down is not absence of talent. As Micho said, Uganda Cranes needs to improve on the technical, managerial and financial aspects of the game.
The She-Cranes netball team proves that Uganda is not lacking in good players with passion and talent.
Apart from qualifying for this year’s World Cup, this team has won tournaments, such as the Nations Cup in Singapore in 2013, even with the least of resources. What has dogged them is lack of finances.
If the Sports ministry met the costs of travel and accommodation for these players, how many more tournaments would they be able to win?
These issues plague not just the sports industry but others as well. According to the Uganda Cancer Institute, people from as far as Djibouti, Eritrea, Somalia, western Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan and the eastern part of Democratic Republic of Congo come to the centre seeking treatment.
This means there is expertise in this area worth investing in. But UCI also faces a lot of lack. They have very few beds, few oncologists and equipment. How much further would they be, if the government recognised their potential to possibly become the treatment hub of the region?
What if the government put more finances and got more doctors trained to become oncologists? What if the government got new premises for the institute, how far would they be?
Uganda is definitely not short of talent and skill. What it lacks, as Micho said, are the “small details” – leadership, money and good structures. But as we have seen for too long now, these details are not small at all in the grand scheme of things.