By James Bakama
UGANDA should, starting today, have been hosting the Africa Beach Volleyball Championship. That would have been an historic development, not only for the country, but also for the local volleyball fraternity.
You rarely have countries like Uganda hosting such big sports events. We have only hosted similar continental meets in boxing and cricket.
So, news in July that Uganda would be staging an African volleyball meet, was indeed big.
Such international events come with a lot of benefits. For starters, it’s great PR for the nation. It also boosts the profile of the sport.
Infrastructure is, in the process, also improved. Everyone, therefore, anxiously looked forward to the September 23-26 event.
A grand press conference was held to launch the event. It was complete with spectacular video shows highlighting the kind of standards that the organisers were targeting.
One of the first questions that came to mind was the issue of funding.
Did beach volleyball, which like most Ugandan sports bodies has financial constraints, really have the financial muscle to host such an event?
The organisers dispelled these fears. They said that the funds were available. You could actually tell from the flamboyance of the organisers, that they were indeed loaded.
To further convince the public that all was well, a Federation of International Volleyball instructor travelled to Uganda to inspect the planned venue at Lugogo.
There were even reports of a special kind of sand being imported. Then, there were also claims of clearing some of the competition material at Mombasa.
Going by the announcements of the developments, could the preparations have been any better?
Then the unexpected happened. For some unclear reason, the competition was quietly called off. There are reports of an e-mail sent to a select group of people breaking the bad news.
Many people, including those in the volleyball fraternity, are confused. They don’t know what exactly is happening.
Many actually still believe the competition is on.
After the publicity hyping the event, you would have expected the organisers to seriously come out with news of the cancellation.
As media houses involved in the pre-tournament publicity, we also owe our readers an explanation. But besides that, there are even more fundamental questions to be asked.
If indeed, the competition was fully funded, what exactly could have prevented it from taking place?
Now that it has not been staged, what happens to the money? Will it be used to develop other aspects of the sport or has it been returned to the sponsors?
I think Ugandans should be told what exactly happened.