Though phenomenal, it was one of those things that almost passed unnoticed last week.
The International University of East Africa not only came out in full support of boxer Shafik Kiwanuka but also announced plans of a big sports project.
The university plans to start a sports academy- a move that will make it East Africa’s first institution of higher learning to undertake such a project.
In a country where sports funding is still low, when private entities come out to fund such ventures, they need to be commended.
For starters, IUEA offered prizefighter Kiwanuka a scholarship. He is currently pursuing a certificate in languages.
IUEA Resident Director Hassan Alwi assured me that once Kiwanuka is done with the first stage, they are ready to continue backing him up to higher qualifications.
Alwi then told me that the offer extends to other outstanding athletes and needy students.
IUEA have also paid $1800 sanction fees for Kiwanuka’s upcoming World Boxing Federation Africa title fight.
This is on top of fight publicity and provision of a modern 1,600-seater auditorium. Kiwanuka’s managers Great Strikers International had earlier been asked to part with sh35m by proprietors of other city venues.
This is all on top of even more assistance for Kiwanuka in his quest to become a world champion.
That aside, Alwi has revealed plans of starting a sports academy on part of the university’s 16 acre piece of land in Kansanga.
He notes that Eastern Africa is pregnant with talent that is begging to be nurtured. “I want to not only spot, develop but also expose talent to top class competition,” explained Alwi.
This project will coincide with further development of IUEA’s sports ground.
He wants to build something similar to Africa’s top sports institutions like Morocco’s Mohammed the Sixth Academy, Kadji Sport Academy (Cameroon) and Katumbi Football Academy (DR Congo).
You wonder why this educationist is extending these gestures until you realise how deeply rooted Hassan is in sports.
He was raised in sport. His father Hassan Alwi Senior was one of the country’s top rally drivers of the 1980s and early 1990s.
The resident IUEA director followed in his father’s footsteps and is today consecutive Kabalega rally champion.
Cruising in a Subaru N15, the soft spoken Hassan also narrowly missed the national title last year.
“I know what sportsmen go through in search of funding. It is tough. That’s exactly why IUEA gives a helping hand,” explains Alwi.
His project of a serious academy is timely. Most of the clubs we have posing as sports academies are more of daycare centres.
IUEA can not only be thanked but should also be encouraged by the respective line state authorities to continue investing in sports.
Beyond that, IUEA should be placed on that list of investments that qualify for Government grants and tax incentives.