A MEDIA DRIVE to support the national soccer team The Uganda Cranes has been launched in Kampala.
The Uganda Cranes Initiative (UCI), announced at a Press Conference at the Golf Course Hotel in Kampala on Sunday morning, will involve different stakeholders drawn from the Uganda Cranes fan base to provide tangible support to the national football team to retain the CECAFA Cup title and aim to go for the World Cup.
The Red Pepper supports the initiative and Director Patrick Mugumya is among the founding members along side football lovers, Primus Agaba, Mark Namanya (Daily Monitor), Robert Kabushenga and Louis Jadwong (New Vision) and Simon Kaheru (SMS media).
The initiative has the full support of the FUFA the local federation mandated by FIFA and CAF to run and supervise all football activities in Uganda.
Speaking on behalf of the UCI, The New Vision CEO Kabushenga said the initiative would focus only on the welfare and facilitation of the Cranes as a team.
“This is about the Uganda Cranes as a team – our team as Ugandans. It is NOT about Ugandan football in general, nor is it about football administration in Uganda. It is about What Ugandans can do for the Cranes so they can achieve OUR dreams. What can you do to take the Uganda Cranes to the World Cup?!” Kabushenga said.
“Technically, our team is one of the best in Africa. The issues that frustrate the Cranes are very simple and what we are saying is that as Ugandans we can manage them. We have the willpower and the resources. If we succeed with this initiative then we will see more support from the other parties such as the government. Let us change our chant from “We go, We go” to “We pay, we pay”,” he added.
The group of soccer enthusiasts is confident that if the Cranes are given the level of support given to other giants like Senegal and Ivory Coast, Uganda can make it to the World Cup finals in Brazil in 2014.
Among other objectives of the Uganda Cranes Initiative are to retain the CECAFA Cup title, to be hosted in Kampala on November 24 this year; to raise funds for basic facilitation required by the Cranes team, and to provide opportunities for fans to engage with the Uganda Cranes players.
“Going to the World Cup is possible provided the Cranes win all the remaining qualifying games. If we could beat Zambia, we can certainly beat all those other teams,” Kabushenga said.
He said the UCI would also support FUFA to raise a bid to host Africa Cup of Nations in 2017.
At the Press Conference, FUFA Technical Director Mujib Kasule and Cranes Coach Bobby Williamson both welcomed the initiative.
“Technically we have done what we need to do with the boys in terms of growing and grooming them. Ugandans are united every time the Cranes is playing. The team matches the very best Africa has to offer in terms of soccer, but the questions remain – how come we haven’t gone to another level. The Cranes can no longer be a FUFA item. It has grown so big that we cannot shoulder it on our own,” Kasule said.
“ We are opening up for Ugandans to help where we cannot reach. There are things we need but we are limited in many ways, so as a Federation we are fully 100% behind the Uanda Cranes Initiative. It is going to change the game of football and the benefits will spillover to other levels as well.”.
Coach Bobby was also visibly excited.
“I am happy to see this passion and enthusiasm and I welcome the Uganda Cranes Initiative. There is an issue with the pressures on our players. We’ve almost lost players because of these pressures. But we also have challenges with our equipment. For example, I insist on players wearing shin guards during training because they are more likely to get injured during training than during a game. But we can’t get shin guards. So they use folded pieces of cardboard – and that’s the national team we are talking about!” Williamson said.
“With the team so well prepared, and now the UCI coming on board, I believe the future of soccer in this country is very, very bright,” he added.