Only Sport will solve Uganda’s Youth Unemployment Time Bomb
12th May 2016 begins a new term for Your Excellence the President of the Republic of Uganda and as the fountain of honour Ugandans have entrusted you with our motherland. Sir I wish you well.
I will take the opportunity to address you Mr. President from the Sporting fraternity as a person who has performed sport as an athlete, who supports numerous sports disciplines and who currently administers sport. I will call myself the Sportsman.
Whereas there has been general recovery of the economy, infrastructure, and governance since 1986, there has been a gradual decline in the priority order of the sports sector that involves the biggest and dynamic age bracket of our population and that is the youth.
In the 70s even when the national basket was not collecting that much, Uganda was a continental soccer, World Boxing and Athletics Power House.
Definitely the wars took toll on all sectors but Sports has failed to recover.
The amount of resources and emphasis accorded to the Energy, Transport, Education, Industrialization, Tourism, Mining, and Governance for the last 30 years have gotten us this far but comparatively how much has been for Sports?
We have observed how infrastructure and funds have been availed for Traders, Farmers, Professionals, Politicians etc to improve production and income generation.
Government has undertaken international development loans for building markets, agro-processing mechanization and many more but what has been done for Sports?
Instead the existing sports infrastructure has been sold off and where fortunate has been abandoned to rot.
With 83% of the Youth unemployed, Sports is currently 0.03% of the National Budget and it is one of the few sectors that despite the marginalization contribute more taxes than its budget allocation.
The simple explanation is that the Human Resource you have placed in the Sports Sector from the policy makers to the technocrats over the 30 years have no clue about sports. They are simply gamblers occupying space.
Sports is one of the biggest economic activities in the developed world.
It is no longer recreational but a multi-billion dollar industry that earns governments huge taxes and in Uganda, it could employ millions of the youth.
Until we have the right people with the know-how in the sports sector, Uganda will continue to miss out on the abundant raw sporting talent that could help turn around our economy.
Mr. President Uganda’s current biggest challenge is the unemployment of the youth.
This is a time bomb and no ideas seem to address the actual challenge.
Politics has replaced Sports. Young energetic citizens wake up without anything to do.
They will continue to walk to work, undertake any form of demonstration and crime.
They are a threat to those who are honestly working hard to have a better living.
Asking the youth to create groups and be given money to undertake economic activities without industrial or vocational skills is another avenue for stealing by a few in the positions.
Do these youth have the business ability to borrow money and undertake any economic activity to make profits to take it back?
The answer to Uganda’s youth challenge is Sports and the earlier we embrace this strategy the better.
Being a professional sportsman may not necessarily need academic background.
All it takes is talent and nurturing for professional output.
Furthermore, with a proper functioning professional sports industry, there are many businesses that will on top of the performing athletes employ youth while the professional and aspiring professional athletes undergo an upbringing that requires strict discipline, commitment, focusing, and physical body conditioning.
The fans take their life frustrations into their respective sports clubs to cheer their star athletes in passionate forms.
This leaves no room for idling, hopelessness and uselessness which are the defining traits of the youth today.
It does not require rocket scientists to fix this but people who understand the basics of professional sports.
In brief all that government needs to do is to address the following areas;
- HE the President;
- Put in place the right Human Resource (Policy Makers and Technocrats)
- Separate Sports Away from Education Ministry (Sports belongs to Social Services Sector not Education. Physical Education is not Sport)
- Minister & Parliament;
- Replace the National Council of Sports with a National Sports Authority.
- Replace the old archaic Sports Law with Professional Sports Laws.
- Set Policies
- Minister, Finance & Parliament (National Budget)
- Acquire, Construct and Rehabilitate Sports Infrastructure
- Provide funding for Sports Development, Preparation and Presentation
For fast tracking, I would conclude by suggesting a simple 3-man task force to create a simple framework for the office of the President in addressing this matter.
While you formulate your new team for the next 5 years, this is this is the one pence from the Sportsman
For God and My Country
Eng. Moses Magogo
The Author is;
FIFA Administration instructor
BSc (Hons) Engineering MUK
FUFA President and has been top football administrator since 2005