OPINION: How to Save Uganda’s Crumbling Sports, Entertainment Industries

A few months ago, dosage I traveled to my home district of Ibanda in Western Uganda.

As we drove around, doctor I was shocked to see football playgrounds covered by wild elephant grass. ‘What went wrong? Where are the boys?’ I wondered.

I recalled those blissful moments when we would use the better part of our free time to play football.

It was a daily exercise after school work. In some instances, thumb we played football from morning to evening on weekends.

The passion for sports in the 70s, 80s and 90s was so strong that a boy who could not run a marathon or kick a ball with his bare foot was seen as a softie. Such a softie would not sit among ‘boys’.

Football matches attracted thousands of people including women and children from all corners of Ibanda Town and neighbouring villages. Football stars were revered in society.  A match between rival villages would bring business to a standstill.

But the elephant grass I saw in Ibanda playgrounds paints a picture of a nation that is gradually losing its identity. Uganda was known for its superb performance in regional and global sports competitions.

The likes of John Akii-Bua, Majid Musisi, Francis Nyangweso, Grace Sseruwagi among others contributed immensely in promoting Uganda’s image on the world stage.


But as the situation stands today, Uganda appears set for tough times.  The sports industry is rocked by corruption, ineptitude and inability to innovate in a fast-changing environment.

To understand the dilemma ahead, we need to look at sports and entertainment concurrently.

How much money can one make through hard work in the sports and entertainment industries?

Every time our national sports teams are travelling for foreign duty, managers are seen on television crying for funding. The prospective sportsmen and women are demoralised and appear malnourished.

The entertainment industry is worse. Musicians are being jailed for non-payment of small amounts of loans. Many can no longer afford to pay producers for new songs. Others can’t afford to hire venues to launch albums. Stars just disappear from the social scene.

Sports bars and night clubs are collapsing, a case in point being Club Silk seeking a bailout from the taxpayers’ purse.

Yet, if the sports and entertainment industries were well organized and focused, they would make billions of shillings and create millions of jobs.

From a simple research, I discovered that in 2015 UK Premiership club Arsenal got almost £101million from the Premier League’s central funds while Manchester City were the second-highest earners, making £96,971,603, followed by Manchester United (£96.5m) and Tottenham (£95.2m), with Leicester in fifth place on £93.2m.

According to Daily Mail, this money comes primarily from the Premier League’s huge TV deals but also includes a share of the league’s central commercial income for each club.

Arsenal’s money was made up of £23,605,000 ‘merit’ cash for finishing second in the table, £21,496,762 in ‘facility fees’ for being in so many live TV games, plus equal shares of the domestic TV deal, overseas TV deals and commercial income from the league’s sponsors, such as Barclays.

In 2015, the famous singer Adele earned $80.5 million (Shs 284bn) pre-tax over 12 months (Forbes). This was partly because of the western media ‘hype’ which has since made her one of the top-earning entertainers in the world.

Why does sports and entertainment thrive in western countries but not Uganda?

What can be done to ensure the sports and entertainment industry is resuscitated?

Role of the Media

For some time I have watched in shock Ugandan journalists demonize prospective sports stars, club managers and coaches. The cynicism of these ‘sports analysts’ is equally shocking. Rarely do you hear constructive ideas from these highly rated ‘sports shows.’

It’s the same case with the entertainment industry.

Instead of providing stunning coverage for these shows and glorifying our stars, entertainment journalists have reduced themselves to recyclers of social media gossip and agents of blackmail.

Going forward, a time has come for us to learn new practices from the western countries. How do they do it?

The media needs to glorify sports and entertainment stars to elevate their status and morale.

For example we should promote live sports reporting on all local radio stations for all local matches to boost the brand of sportsmen and uphold the spirit of sportsmanship.

This is how the western media especially Britain’s has managed to make the stars we worship on television. Can’t the Ugandan media make stars for Uganda, Africa and the World? Yes, it can.

Editors should go ahead to publish sports and entertainment headlines on both front and back pages of newspapers.


The growth of local and entertainment sport means increased advertising expenditure on sports teams to market commercial brands.

This implies media houses which employ journalists will earn more from a growing industry hence boosting incomes of reporters and analysts.

The growth of the sports and entertainment industry means more stadiums; theatres and nightclubs will be built which leads to a steady appreciation of real estate and jobs creation.

More sports shops will open which means the young people will get a new source of livelihood.

There would be more jobs in running sports facilities (cleaning, maintenance of fields, accounting, scouting, advertising and marketing, production, publication, research etc).

Players, coaches, musicians, comedians, producers will earn more money to create wealth and take care of their families.

Government will realise an expanded tax base.

Sports museums will attract tourists and researchers whose inflows are essential for economic growth.

The garment industry will grow to match the demand for sports attire, boots etc, which could encourage cotton production.

All this is achievable if there is a serious mind shift on behalf of journalists, government and industry players.

Government needs to build infrastructure to ease mobility to sports facilities and implement a strong and balanced Intellectual Property Rights regime to encourage both domestic innovation and knowledge diffusion through intellectual property protection.

This allows musicians, producers and writers to reap from their sweat and create wealth

If my ideas are implemented, we will no longer have abandoned playgrounds as the youth with realise the benefits of participating in sports activities.

The youth will find themselves in a hugely competitive environment that despises laziness and idleness which I think is one of the best ways of fighting alcoholism, betting and drug abuse.

By promoting sports and entertainment industries, we will encourage physical fitness in a country struggling with an unhealthy population.

We will take the young people off the streets by giving them jobs.

We will spend more time watching local sport instead of Premiership whose dynamics we don’t comprehend. We will see our stars rise to greatness on the global scene.

For this case, ChimpReports will continue to cover extensively local sport and entertainment.

The author is ChimpReports’ Managing Editor, Media Entrepreneur and Innovator

Twitter: gilespies


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