The Gazelles celebrate qualification to the 2015 AfroBasket after defeating Kenya last November. Unfortunately, they may miss out due to lack of finances
It is just two weeks left before the start of the Women’s AfroBasket tournament in Yaounde, Cameroon.
But, the participation of Uganda’s female basketball team, the Gazelles, remains in doubt and failure to participate comes at a huge cost, writes JAMES SSEKANDI.
Due to financial constraints, the Gazelles aren’t part of the All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville that got underway last weekend despite qualifying. Another continental no-show will, however, weigh in heavily on the sport of basketball, a three-year international games suspension and $18,000 in fines before readmission for membership from world basketball governing body, Fiba.
Local basketball federation president Ambrose Tashobya is already lamenting the dire situation the team and the game are facing.
“We have a national team and we’re begging for money!” a resentful Tashobya sadly said.
Cash-strapped Fuba needs $100,000 (Shs 365m) for the Gazelles’ preparations prior to the tournament. That included flying in two foreign-based players – Lisa Karungi and Sharon Karungi ahead of the Yaounde tournament.
While President Yoweri Museveni gave the men’s basketball side, the Silverbacks, Shs 82 million for the AfroBasket Championships in Tunisia, nothing has been given for the Gazelles.
More so, out of the Shs 1 billion budgeted for the Netball World Cup, the AfroBasket and the World Athletics Championships, Fuba received only Shs 36 million from the National Council of Sports. That contribution was to facilitate national basketball teams on three championships in Congo Brazzaville, Tunisia and Cameroon.
“These are Africa Zone VI champions; so, it is really unfair that government considers other sports that are only trying to qualify and leaves out those which qualified and won a tournament,” Tashobya said.
The Gazelles prevailed from a tough qualification campaign for two continental showpieces ahead of Africa giants Kenya and Egypt.
“As the basketball fraternity, we won’t intrude into mainstream politics for funds, because this is a national team,” Tashobya added.