Ugandans have already started preparations at the Gayaza Baseball and Softball Stadium for the qualifiers.
Japanese ambassador Kazuaki Kameda pitches before an exhition game on his first tour of the Gayaza Baseball ground constructed by the Japanese government. PHOTOS: Michael Nsubuga
The Uganda Baseball and Softball Association (UBSA) are determined to beat South Africa to the single baseball slot to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.
Following the support of the Japanese, Ugandans have already started preparations at the Gayaza Baseball and Softball Stadium for the qualifiers next year.
The president of UBSA Dennis Kasozi told a delegation from the Japanese embassy led by ambassador Kazuaki Kameda during a press tour on Sunday that the national team trains every Sunday with a target of beating South Africa, their main rivals.
“Baseball has registered for the 2020 Olympics and we are working towards qualification and working hard to meet our target. Japan has been a blessing to Uganda as we have enjoyed exchange programs and their culture has impacted on the Ugandans,” Kasozi said.
“Through the Uganda-Japanese friendship, we have had volunteer coaches coming to Uganda who have been able to touch the young generation and develop their talent. The impact the cooperation has created is big and we are now known all over the world,” Kasozi stated.
UBSA’s Allan Okello who has worked with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for four years said the organization has helped them continue getting them volunteers who have helped in the development of the game.
Japanese ambassador Kazuaki Kameda (3rd left) scores through a gate as the the Makerere University Gateball team members look on during his tour at Makerere University ground
“We want to thank the embassy for responding to our requests for volunteers whenever we ask for them,” Okello noted.
Japanese ambassador to Uganda Kazuaki Kameda who was making his first visit to the facility promised more support to the UBSA in pursuit of their Olympic dream.
“Construction of this field was a major achievement as a way promoting Uganda sport but the Ugandans need to show strong commitment in maintaining these facilities and protecting the donated equipment,” Kameda said after getting a report that some of the equipment had been stolen.
“Coordinate to see how you can address those issues but you have to show commitment before we can also support you. In the short term we are going to support your campaign to qualify for the Olympics,” Kameda promised.
From Gayaza the ambassador and his entourage headed to Makerere University where they have helped in establishing a relatively new sport in the country, Gateball. The Japan Gateball Union last year invited Robert Bakaze to Japan where he gained a lot of Gateball skills.
On return he trained 23 trainers who have now spread the game to Namboole, Kawempe and Kamwokya and will continue spreading the game through a schools development program which is aimed at introducing the sport to students and teachers in primary and secondary schools and high institutions of learning.
“We are looking forward to creating a strong national team that will represent Uganda in the Gateball World Championship due in September in Brazil,” Bakaze stated.
Before Uganda Volleyball president Hadija Namanda an alumnai of Tsukuba International Academy for Sports studies in Japan and Honda Estilo’s Yo Tabuchi had also made presentations about their relationship with the Japanese supported sport projects.
In 2014 Namanda was the only female out of Africa to attend a Tsukuba International Academy for Sport Studies and the International Academy of Sports Science and Technology (TIAS AND AISTS) Japanese training program focusing on Japanese culture and history. She also visited the Tokyo Organising Committee headquarters of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Soltilo Uganda who has already a partnership with Bright Stars FC also aims at producing superiors players with the physical strength of the Africans and mindset of the Japanese through a training curriculum based on Solitilo’s philosophy.
The tour was also attended by the Second Secretary Tadakazu Kanno, Coordinator for Economic Cooperation Shima Naoyuki and First Secretary Mayumi Mashimo.