It was quite an eventful few hours at the Lugogo MTN Arena yesterday as Telecom Company, MTN, stopped Sprite from branding the facility.
The latter are sponsors of the Fiba Africa Zone V Club Championships scheduled to start at the country’s only indoor venue today. “I can confirm I did stop Fuba from branding the venue,” Anthony Katamba, MTN’s legal and corporate affairs manager, told Daily Monitor.
Katamba is also the National Council of Sports (NCS) chairman, the body that acts as public custodians for the country’s biggest indoor facility. This is the third time in just three weeks local basketball governing body, Fuba, have been stopped from using it, two years after sports was thrown out ahead of renovation paid for by MTN.
The controversy now arises from the shape of the old hoops which MTN say will damage the floor. New ones are expected here next month. “I am ready to step aside if government feels having the tournament comes at the cost of the facility,” Katamba vowed. “I am just waiting for the minister to call and give me his mind.”
It’s only after the intervention of sports minister Charles Bakkabulindi last week that Fuba were given clearance to use it. Despite the clearance, Fuba couldn’t get access to the facility last Friday and had to switch the Falcons-UCU Canons and Stormers-UCU Lady Canons games to Makerere mainground.
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On the eve of the biggest basketball event here, everything was far from sorted and by the time we went to press, the availability of Lugogo was anyone’s guess. DMark Power and Warriors, the two men’s teams to represent Uganda in the event, couldn’t train in Lugogo. Rwandese teams, Esproir (men) and APR (women), arrived on Saturday.
Teams from Kenya, Burundi, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Tanzania were expected in the country but hadn’t arrived by press time. “I advise Fuba to postpone the tournament for another two weeks,” Katamba added.
Ambrose Tashobya, the Fuba president, who was involved in identifying the hoops’ manufacturers, along with NCS officials is a bitter man. “We have given all the assurances we can, including insuring the floor for at least Shs120m,” Tashobya said. NCS were holding an emergency meeting last night to decide the fate of Zone V, for now, and perhaps Lugogo, forever. Across town, organizers were conducting draws at the Pope Paul Memorial Centre, Rubaga.
Courtesy: The Daily Monitor