Cash-Strapped Mbale Junior Football Academies Face Closure

2248 Views Mbale, Eastern Region, Uganda

In short
Children's sports academies in Mbale on the verge of closure because of the lack of funds and the absence of any semblance of support from the communities that they serve.

Junior football academies in Mbale are at the crossroads. The managers of the academies dream of grooming Uganda's next great football talent, but with no money and no support, the clubs are on the verge of closure.

There are four junior football academies in Mbale - Mbale Tigers, Sunset Academy and Moni Junior Football Academy.  All four are struggling to pay staff salaries, to feed players and to buy basic training equipment.
The situation has become so bad that children enrolled at Sunset Academy train on empty stomachs during the daylong sessions.
Muhammad Kaweesa, director of the academy, says his club focuses on engaging destitute children in sports. He says the children cannot afford to buy their own meals and with no money, he has no option but to let them train on empty stomachs.
Kaweesa says team that operates out of North Road Primary School may shut down soon.
At Mbale Junior Tigers, the situation is not that different.
Emmanuel Matsytse, the Tigers’ director, says his goal is to provide sports structures for children from low-income homes and possibly offer them scholarships for formal education. But money is tight and his dreams are on hold.
Matsytse says he is forced to pay his coaches small stipends drawn from the resources of Mbale Junior Table Tennis Club, which he also manages.
Sponsors in Sweden support the table tennis club.
Moses Wagalumba, a retired football administrator in Mbale, says the real problem is that the football academies do not have the support of the communities, which they serve. He says parents don’t offer financial or moral support and the local councils completely ignore the sport.
Wagalumba gives the example of the decision of the local councils to sell most of the open sports grounds in Mbale. He says two of the academies have no training grounds and the rest are threatened with eviction if the green spaces are disposed of.
Wagalumba notes that in the past, children were encouraged to join sports because there were venues throughout the town where they could watch games and pick up important skills. Now, trainers need to rent grounds, hire coaches and purchase equipment – an ambition that he says is out of reach for most people.