There is more than hope for Ugandan Rugby than the gloom hovering around. There are myriads of factors that have besieged Rugby but because of the love of the game, they are not even worth mentioning. It’s common knowledge that nothing functions in Uganda but that is an irregularity which has to change for our society to be productive, giving up would be an idiosyncrasy. What is happening in rugby is a true reflection of the whole country in general. The country is at a crossroads and so are sports disciplines.
The Rugby Cranes will be travelling to France to take part in the Africa Cup which is also going to double as a world cup qualifier. Why an African sports competition is going to be staged in France could take another full geopolitical write-up to explain the rich and reach of the French skeletal colonial outlook. There is strong advocacy for those that made it to the national team to never come back to Uganda. Those pushing the narrative are doing it with robust economic justifications.
With Europe at war and a heightening political far-right feeling, is it a safe bet for a young African in the prime of their life to disappear in France and start a life in a place they don’t know about at all? How did we get here? In Uganda, rugby is a leisure primarily at the moment, no one can live off the game, if they do for a few years they will have a tough time at some point. There are individuals who have nothing to run to apart from what is viewed as a hobby for many. Because of the economic downturn of the country for the last few decades catalyzed by the pandemic and the various conditions, unemployment has made sports like rugby a safe space or a place of refuge. But Rugby can only do so little because it is not designed to take on the pressure.
If this generation of rugby players decides to take the route of sports brain drain (running away) it will affect the pipeline development of the game, but that situation could be the best chance for everyone who claims to love the sport to work hand in hand around the box and set a pathway to better times. Every aspect of life should position itself for a better probability in the face of globalization, and sports like Rugby in the third world is not unique to this.
As Rugby entities cry out for resources they should be ready to grab opportunities when they come their way. It’s time for rugby in Uganda to look at the prospect of ideas like a franchise fee, to explore if a club should operate as a Non-profit corporation or an entirely Profit Corporation, to inquire into jointly how a local revenue can work in a Ugandan context because it’s not logical for a club to do merchandising with rugby replicas that cost way above players’ allowances, packaging players as a commercial aspect, marketing, team cost, and administrative costs practically no stone should be left unturned.
Rugby clubs should be aware and work on visibility going beyond social media, a logo is not branding but it’s just an element of the whole deal. Rugby clubs should have data and insights even with no budget at the start. If a corporation approached a club with $ 5,000 do we just let them take naming rights, how do we harmonize such a sum into something that could be an employment opportunity for many in a society? There should be modern structures in place.
It’s not unpunctual for Ugandan rugby and sports set-up systems that rationalize the necessity of funding from both the private sector and the government. Local Governments could invest in sports if it was part of the economic avenues to suppress unemployment, multinationals for example, things like the final investment decision in the oil sector model could use sports for social corporate responsibility but at the same time galvanise the economy. For a view of thousands of dollars annually a rugby club could create hundreds of jobs both directly and indirectly increasing disposable income which will be spent and end up back in the hands of those giving and they walk away with their profits.
At this moment in time, each club should have an athletic trainer, exercise physiologist, sporting events planner, public relations department, sports agent, a sports psychologist in the face of mental health awareness in the workplace, a physical therapist, sporting statistician for data and insights, General Manager, marketing managers, a whole legal department, grounds men, the kit department that can even comprises of a whole fashion specialist, at just the administrative and management level. All these pieces can guarantee that if a bank for example through patronage availed $60,000 they would get value for money at the end of the day. They are sure injuries will be foreseen and managed, there will be meaningful partnerships, there will be visibility beyond social media as the public image of a club will have a website and a whole merchandising department. There will be market data that is researched by real book intelligent human resource. A sub-Economy can be birthed. In time clubs will be contributing to NSSF for their staff and retirement packages put in the plan.
A systematic rugby club can sit on the table with any University on the planet to negotiate scholarship packages for players and support staff, with a process in place players, can stop dreaming of escaping from a hotel when on tour. If a player has a guided internet profile, backed by images and videos by the media team they can have a seat at a real table to promote a new product on the market. Then we can talk about endorsements and other benefits that come in there.
We should brace for a time when rugby clubs’ various administrations look forward to annual bonuses after taxes on expenses. When all the numerous volunteers evolve to both full-time and part-time employees. Of course, the scandals can’t go away, which is always another opportunity for a certain professional. We just have to start at someplace, starting is all that is needed, starting to set up the hierarchies that make up the structures and never think of people running off far away from home. It’s not late to clear the cloud over Uganda Rugby. Rugby clubs can’t not survive on getting collections for cars coming only.
There are many brilliant minds in rugby circles, and I would very much like them to air out their personal prospects on the future outlook of the sport in Uganda. Perhaps we could organize discussions and adopt whatever we come up with for the betterment of the sports. We have to stop walking away!