FUBA President Nasser Sserunjogi has explained why the Executive Committee decided on cancellation of the Basketball season.
The National Basketball League was days from tip off when President Museveni announced a lockdown in March but FUBA remained confident that the 2020 league would be played just after the lockdown was lifted.
However, on Friday, the federation announced cancellation of all the 2020 basketball activities excluding the 2021 Afrobasket Qualifiers later this year.
“As FUBA we sat in the meeting after the presidential speech,” Sserunjogi told Bukedde’s Muzamiru Mayiga.
“We had received many questions from our members in regards to the future of the 2020 season. These members have teams and they have contracted players who they pay. You can’t continuing paying someone when no activity is going on.
“I am lucky that I am on the committee that was put in place recently by National Council of Sports (NCS) to draft the standard Operation Procedures (NCS) for the resumption of Sports in the country. After we drafted them and got the input from the sports federations, we sent them to the Ministry of Education and Sports who in turn forwarded them to Ministry of Health, however, up to now, we have not got any feedback yet.
“Furthermore, In the SOPs, we classified all Sports into three; low risk (less contact and few fans), medium risk and games like Football, Basketball and Rugby etc were categorised under high risk because they involve much contact and converge many fans.
“It happens that even though the ministry decides to open, they will have to start with the low risk sports and see how they go about with their activities and by the time they reach us (high risk), the year would have ended already. We made many calculations before reaching on the decision to cancel the season.”
Sserunjogi also stated that the recent Presidential address provided no indication that sports will be returning soon.
He explained that Churches, Schools and even Political rallies are yet to be given greenlight, which rank higher than Sports on the countries pecking order, and President Museveni has already classified Sports as leisure.
Afrobasket which will be played in Egypt in November, is the only basketball event for Uganda that is still standing.
“Afrobasket is in Egypt in so we can go out because Egypt is already open and they have already restarted their basketball season and Football will be returning in a weeks time I am told,” Sserunjogi added.
“FIBA, the world football governing body, has already opened up the calendar meaning that all we have to take part or risk facing further consequences.
“Afrobasket is an equivalent of football’s Africa Cup of Nations. So, if we don’t qualify for Afrobasket, we lose a chance to play the world cup qualifiers which will take us more four years again.”
Besides the local leagues, FUBA was braced for a big year in sports – Uganda was set to host the U18 boys and girls Zone five, Club championship Women Zone five which JKL is the defending Champions and the 3×3 Africa cup in November.
Uganda was to take part in the FIBA 3X3 U18 in Hungary while the Under 23 team was to play in the FIBA 3X3 World Cup in China this September.
With no action, Basketball clubs face a tricky time highlighted by financial constraints and Sserunjogi said that FUBA is not in position to bail them out.
“We don’t have the capacity to help clubs,” he said. “However, we have many programs to help Clubs. We have been taking them through Governance and administration tutorials, this throws light on how clubs can be. A club must have a Board, constitution, structures, media plan, marketing structures, players contracted. Such training is like FUFA’s Club Pro Agenda. Its what we can help at this time.
“What we have for them next is the Marketing and sponsorship conference where we will show them the requirements each team must have to lure Sponsors on board.”
With a whole year without activities, FUBA is aware of the workload ahead especially in reviving the sport that had reached heights after last year’s highly attended NBL playoffs.
Sserunjogi said: “We have to work hard to bring back the fans, it was great last season where we had to limit fans during the finals playoffs at some stages.”
“However, its going to be tough for us next season where many people will continue not risking to go to crowded places in fear of contracting the Covid19. It will be hard to bring them back because of the low confidence but we will do everything in our means.”