National Teams Must be funded and supported by government - Nasser Sserunjogi
Federation of Uganda Basketball Association (FUBA) President Nasser Sserunjogi has revealed that the federation borrowed money from lenders to fuel Uganda’s FIBA Afrobasket aspirations.
The Uganda’s men national basketball team, the Silverbacks, beat Morocco 77-65 last Thursday in Rabat to return to the continent for a third straight time.
However, Uganda’s qualification hopes we’re almost shattered after Government through National Council of Sports failed to avail the required monies to fund the trip to Morocco.
The Federation asked NCS for about $361212 (Sh1.2bn) to cater for the three National team engagements – Silverbacks (Men), Gazelles (Women) and the junior teams.
The Men’s trip to Morocco had to cost $100,000 (Shs370m), but FUBA’s deseprate pleas to government fell on deaf ears with the latter citing empty coffers.
Consequently, FUBA had to withdraw the Gazelles from the Women’s Afrobasket Qualifiers.
On June 30, the Men’s team, that comprised of mostly locally based players, left for a four-day camp in Egypt before the crucial game on July 8 in Morocco.
“We didn’t have any funds at all from Government,” FUBA President Nasser Sserunjogi told The-SportsNation.
“We had to borrow money from money lenders and we expect Government to reimburse the same.”
National teams, including the Bombers, have always faced financial constraints and end up pulling out of tournaments due to funds.
Many analysts have tasked respective Federations to try more channels like through sponsorships from cooperate companies, to fund National team engagements.
“National Teams Must be funded and supported by government. This shouldn’t be an option,” Sserunjogi adds.
“Anything outside Government should only be supplementary. We have tried to reach out to corporate companies but the timing is not good because of Covid Situation.”
Amidst all the hardships, the Silverbacks fared amid adversity and sealed a ticket to Afrobasket on the hands of one of Africa’s basketball powerhouse.
“Qualifying for the biggest tournament on the African continent and being among the top 16 countries in Africa means a lot to us as a country,” Sserunjogi adds.
“Its an inspiration to all young athletes out there playing the game of Basketball. It’s an inspiration to parents who sometimes don’t want their kids to play sports. It comes with lots of benefits and opportunities from Government and FIBA.
“It creates exposure for our athletes at the international stage. It buttresses our case for funding from Government. If you don’t qualify then it makes difficult for Government to support you.”
The achievement to return Silverbacks to Afrobasket ranks highest in terms of Sserunjogi’s big achievements since replacing Ambrose Tashobya in February 2019 as the new FUBA President.
Sserunjogi adds, “All leaders are judged by results and for us to qualify for Afrobasket means that we have continued with a legacy set by our predecessor. Its an indication that we are moving forward and getting better.”
On why they had to withdraw the Gazelles from the Afrobasket Qualifiers, Sserunjogi threw more light: “For the Gazelles we had no option but to pull out. It was purely a business decision for us.
“We chose the Silverbacks because we had already started this campaign and we were almost there so we couldn’t abandon the project. It was sad that we pulled out but we had no option. We shall try and prepare for the next campaigns.”
The Afrobasket, now played once every after four years, is the men’s basketball continental championship contested by the senior national teams of Africa.
Uganda finished 15th in 2017 and 13th in 2019.
The current squad, blend of young and old, has already been branded as Uganda’s best. However, they have their work cut in a group of death that has of Senegal, Cameroon and South Sudan.
The competition is due August 24 to September 5 2021.
Preparations in basketball determines a team’s ceiling and Sserunjogi has plans for the team in case funds will be availed. “The plan is to enter camp in Alexandria on 9th August subject to availability of funds. We shall travel from Alexandria straight to Kigali.”