A renewed sense of glory is in the waiting for national teams as they prepare to feature at next month’s Africa Olympic Qualifiers in South Africa.
UgandaBaati Hockey League
KAMPALA - Ugandan hockey and the fans, are days of empty seats slowly coming to an end? Well, this year has largely been defined by new beginnings for the game in the country.
For the first time in as many years, a proper league sponsor in Uganda Baati fell in place. A renewed sense of glory is in the waiting for national teams as they prepare to feature at next month’s Africa Olympic Qualifiers in South Africa.
Now enter local fans, a collective who truly deserve special mention. Like everyone knows, sports without fans is dead, no debate.
So how does hockey measure up? It would be unrealistic to expect thousands in the stands for Uganda is more of a “football nation”. But then it is safe to say hockey is attracting a lot of new faces, something that will draw satisfaction particularly for the top administrators of the game.
It is interesting to note that this year, in particular, big games have witnessed an increase in not only ordinary spectators but a proactively charming group.
One of the secrets here is that the game is increasingly becoming more competitive and exciting. There is a unique story of how Weatherhead’s Ashiraf Tumwesigye unknowingly won over three new fans following his fancy movements in the 2-1 win over Wananchi earlier in the second round.
Rachel Babirye, Peter Sendi and Annet Nabirye who were total strangers to the game but reluctantly came to watch at the request of a friend who loves hockey instantly liked Tumwesigye’s game.
“I didn’t expect this much fun out here. I liked the way that midfielder (Tumwesigye) freely moved the ball. I’m now contemplating on coming back some other time to watch him” Babirye said.
Weatherhead, Wananchi, and Kampala are known to have the biggest fan base. But even then the multiplier effect is as well at work.
However, Kampala in a unique way has mastered the art of branding and selling their club out there.
Important still is the fact that the game has attracted an accelerating recreational aspect, creating a perfect picture of a family day out at the weekend. Drinks and eats are commonplace to keep the fans busy.
“We surely feel honoured and appreciated when we see that the game continues to draw more attention” Vincent Kasasa, a Weatherhead coach-player says.
Going back in time to this year’s Easter tournament, there was further proof that indeed attending a hockey game on such days is as beautiful as it gets.
Overall the projection now is that there is a slow but positive growth of hockey’s fan base to suggest the possibility of an influx in the future.