Moses Alsayed Lubega
UMM Al –Quwan city quarters, marshals at the Sultan towers are sounding wake up calls to invited athletes from the less than 10 select countries here out of the 170 countries for the games- ‘Orientation games await an hour later, so everyone ought to be up for briefing’ marshals are pacing around.
On the Ugandan wing, the Marshal did not even gain an inch on the doorbell, the doorstep was half shut. Inside the hall, attentive athletes are listening religiously to Ugandan officials while taking notes.
“I had come for a routine morning alarm,” said the marshal.
“In my country (Uganda) the early bad catches the worm” –a Ugandan official responded warmly.
Good humoured the response was, however, beneath the lines, the message was a direct jab to the rest of the world; Uganda means business here!
Indeed the Ugandan delegation has since been noticed.
Yesterday, Sheikh Saud Bin Rashid Al Mu’alla the ruler of Umm Al Qaiwan hosted the Ugandan delegation at his ancient palace.
“We intend to exhibit the hospitality and culture of UAE,” remarked the beaming head of one of the emirates.
His staff were identical in awe.
Earlier, the Umm Al Qaiwan Marine team invited the Ugandan football team for a match. The police team, asked for same favour, and were happy to lose 7-1.
Besides the friendly host in the Emirates, Uganda has also found the favour of a benign environment.
“I am glad our athletes responded well to the weather which should be a plus” said Genevieve Bamwidhukire, Head of Delegation Special Olympics Uganda.
Bamwidhukire points to her swimmers and runners with a nod.
“From those our champagne is on ice” she adds “My slim hopes are in football and volleyball since it is our debut in those games.
The games officially open at 40,000 capacity Al Zayed Sports City stadium on March 14.
Punk-Pop superstar Avril Lavigne will perform at The Special Olympics opening ceremony that among other global superstars; Special Olympics ambassadors such as Didier Drogba, Michelle Kwan and Dikembe Mutombo.
More than 7,500 athletes from more than 190 nations will take part in the games.
When ‘the Flame of Hope’ lights at the stadium, Ugandan athletes will watch with lightened faces.