President Museveni has flagged off the 69 athletes who will represent Uganda at the 21st Commonwealth Games in Queensland, Australia.
The president said he began following the Commonwealth Games in 1954 hosted by the city of Melbourne.
“I was in primary school but remember seeing the beautiful pictures coming from the games. One of the earliest pictures was of a high jumper called Patrick Etolu, who was a policeman.”
Then there was Cardiff in 1958, where Tom Kawere won silver medal in boxing, Museveni narrated, adding that he has since been following the games for almost 60 years now.
There are four key things about sports, he noted.
First, it is about fitness through training and good nutrition. Managers should ensure sportspeople eat well because they use a lot of calories. A sportsman needs 5,000 calories per day compared to 3,000 calories for a non-sportsperson, he explained.
Secondly, sports is about endurance. “You can be fit but lacking in endurance, which is also about character building. When you hear we went to the Bush with 27 guns and defeated an army, it is because of endurance.”
The third element is strategy. “For example, if you are running the middle and long races, you must have a strategy. You should know how to conserve energy, where to go slow and where to sprint.”
Then some sports, like netball, rugby etc need cooperation. He says players must work as a team to excel.
“But all these are only possible if you are disciplined. If you drink alcohol and do umalaya, you are sure to fail.”
These qualities are not just for athletics. They serve in other aspects of life. In business, in studies, etc one needs endurance, strategy, cooperation and discipline, Museveni said.
“To the sportspeople, use your talent fully, for your own benefit but also for the benefit of the global community. A good teacher in Namagunga will not be known in Australia but an athlete will be known. That is how Kipchoge Keino put Kenya on the world map just as Akii Bua did for Uganda.”
Sportsmanship is rivalled by no other talent in creating recognition and fame, he observed.
“You have rare talents which you should use and guard jealously. It also brings recognition to your country and tourism.”
“I wish the team good luck. I am glad there’s better planning this time. Issues of logistics were handled early. If the team does well, I promise to slaughter some bulls upon their return and we celebrate.”