THE defection of five Ugandan boxers to Rwanda has again raised the increasingly itchy question of how much control countries have over their sportsmen.
Hamza Ssempewo, Serunjogi Migadde, Festus Omondi, Muhammed Farouk and Geoffrey Kitoke recently sneaked to Kigali for greener pastures.
Like I have always said, our sportsmen, and more so boxers, are unequalled in patriotism. Ugandan pugilists, who for the sake of national duty share gum shields, underline this kind of loyalty.
But the defections also raise the question as to what extent such loyalty can stretch in this free market world where pipers actually call the tune?
At almost the same time of the defections, a hungry national boxing team was being trimmed from its full size of twelve to three fighters for a crucial Africa Zone Five qualifier.
It is also now official that despite our depth in boxing talent, we will field only six boxers at the September All Africa Games.
And, mind you, the number to this Olympic qualifier could reduce further.
You only have to look back at the Manchester Commonwealth Games to know what I mean.
Not that I am in for defections. But, how do you expect a penniless, but talented boxer, to react to an offer of not only a steady pay, but also a chance at qualification for the top sports eventâ€”the Olympics.
Interestingly, a Congolese Bana Zidane was for a good fee almost recently granted citizenship to help boost Ugandaâ€™s Nations Cup qualification campaign.
What about the case of Kenyan- born athletes William Koskei and Amos Omolo, who did not only compete for us, set national records, but also won Uganda medals in competitions as high as the Commonwealth.
It is a global trend of talents being attracted not only by good pay, but also better exposure as the defections of footballers Emmanuel Olisadebe (Nigeria) and Gerald Asamoah (Ghana) to Poland and Germany respectively show.
So before we castigate the defectors, we should first ask ourselves how much we have invested in these fighters
Defections no surprise