Conflicts in sport should be settled on the field, not court

Daniel Sebakijje

Daniel Sebakijje

, News

As a young man in Nakiwogo, a small village in Entebbe, I recall the love affair between myself and anything called sport.

It is to sport that I would run for comfort whenever I had a tough encounter with my grannies and uncles back home.

Chess, ludo, playing cards, draught, football, and “duulu’, where my comforters.

Perhaps the gods where mentoring me for the beat that would eventually put food on my table.

Never in my life had I imagined that a sports disagreement could ever end up in court. To me, sport was leisure first, and then the rest followed. How silly and naïve I was!!!!

My over seven years experience reporting sports have taught me that to many, sport is a business that people can even kill for if they have to.

From football the most popular sport in the country to the least loved like cycling, netball, table tennis, name it, it is wrangles aplenty.

More often than not, all sports body elections in Uganda have ended in a mess with one party, usually the losing one, running to court to seek truce.

In june when Mujib Kasule was kicked out of the FUFA elections for failure to fullfil certain obligations as was required by the electoral commission, where did he run? To court.

Earlier this month, with everything set for the Uganda Boxing Federation elections at Kati Kati, one uncertified individual Robert Matovu ran to the Nakawa Chief Magistrate’s court seeking an injunction to have the elections halted.

The chief magistrate Keremani Jameson granted his request and there were no elections.

Just last weekend when everyone thought it was going to be an amicable at the Uganda Netball federation election, the unforeseen happened as the incumbent Susan Anek retained her seat.

Anek scooped 82 votes against 78 for her rival Nambuusi Aidah, but to the astonishment of everyone, the total number of  tallied votes was 160, two more than the ballot papers.

The aggrieved Aidah Nambuusi and her camp threatened to vent their frustrations in the courts of law.

What is odd is that at times even court orders have failed to cease the fire, in fact they just aggravate the situation.

Case in point is Table Tennis.

In 2016, the civil division of the High court ordered the reinstatement of the then axed Robert Jjagwe as the Uganda Table Tennis president but the National Council of Sports still backed Douglas Kayongo for the top seat.

The result:

Table Tennis in Uganda has two presidents.

I can go on and on with a list of examples in cycling where Mathias Lukwago did have a smooth march into office after surreptitiously knocking out Sam Muwonge Mahaba.

Regardless of who is right and who is wrong, the rate at which sports issues in Uganda end up in court is worrying and this needs to stop.

With all the politics in the country, sport should be the one thing where differing parties can reach a consensus without any one standing in the dock.

Sports battles should be fought and won in their respective fields of play otherwise we risk scaring away young men and women with these selfish interests of some individuals.