By Charles Masembe
In the past few years, there have been various initiatives from different bodies calling on people to drink responsibly and not to drive when they are drunk.
These calls have been gradually contributing to an attitude change among Ugandans, but there is still a lot more to be done.
This year, I’m glad to be part of the Red Card campaign, an anti-drink-driving campaign. The campaign icon, the red card, relates directly to my area of operation, where the Red Card serves as the highest form of punishment for players who have committed an offence during the game. It is supposed to deter the general public from driving under the influence of alcohol.
For most Ugandans, the weekends are spent either marking important events with their families and friends or just relaxing at their favorite spots-sometimes catching up on the latest sports matches.
This season, with the premiership football matches going, most young and working adults’ frequent bars and other happening places to watch football matches.
In Uganda, and the world over, there is a big connection between the most popular sport and celebration with alcohol. This is not a bad thing, if the alcohol is consumed in moderation. But sometimes, that has not been the case.
My heart has been broken in the past seeing many young football stars or just young people with a lot of potential fade away or destroy their lives because of alcohol abuse. This has affected their fans, their families and the effects trickle further to the community.
There are many drunken driving consequences such as death, disabling, disfiguring, and injuring themselves and others- sometimes their own friends and family.
Along with all these potential consequences, violators also often face other significant personal and financial costs, after drinking you have to pay fines, or you are taken to prison because you are not able to pay.
As a veteran referee, I am not only passionate about football, but more passionate about the youth and the influences that shape their lives
While we just concluded the festive season - one of the periods with the highest alcohol consumption- the ongoing Premiership League, Africa Nations Championships, Rugby games and upcoming holidays among others will still see more young adults in entertainment spots catching the latest with their friends.
The excitement and celebratory mood may create an environment where supporters could end up abusing alcohol.
It is not the wish of any brewer to see fatalities as a result of abuse of their product. We have seen beer manufacturers and other institutions advocate for responsible drinking.
For those who like to have their drink, know your limit or else you will get a red card. Do not try to down crates of beer just because it has been offered to you or your team is winning.
Most importantly, if you know you have drunk, call a cab or a replacement driver- Do not drive.
If each one of us drinks responsibly, we will be able to celebrate the important events in our lives safely and be happier people.
The writer is a veteran referee and anti drink-driving campaigner