Basketballers locked out of Lugogo Stadium
The basketball league’s return to Lugogo Indoor Stadium was sensationally blocked on Friday.
A letter dated July 26, 2012 from telecom company, MTN, directed National Council of Sports (NCS) to stop the basketball fraternity from using the venue. MTN entered a deal with NCS that involved renovating the facility. It was also renamed the MTN Lugogo Arena.
Sheila B. Mugisha, who signed off as facilities manager, wrote the letter addressed to NCS general secretary Jasper Aligawesa.
“Unfortunately we cannot accept this event to take place as the requisite basketball hoops have not been put in place,” Mugisha wrote.
“The proposed backstops are too heavy and will damage the floor in spite of any protection you propose to put and under these circumstances we cannot allow these games to proceed.
“You mentioned to us that you would be purchasing the recommended basketball hoops and until such a time as these are in place, the facility cannot host any matches,” it further reads. Fuba and club managers present held a meeting outside Lugogo and resolved not to play any games this weekend. “We won’t play until knowing who manages Lugogo,” Fuba president Ambrose Tashobya said after the meeting. MTN were the national basketball league sponsors for the past eight years. Market rivals, Airtel, took over as sponsors this season. A reported Shs1.7bn was paid by MTN to repair the facility.
Consequently, it was closed in 2009 and reopened a year later with an undulating floor. NCS shut it down again in 2010.
Though hoops won’t be here until September, pool, volleyball, kickboxing and table tennis have been played there this year.
Falcons-UCU Canons and UCU Lady Canons-Magic Stormers were scheduled to clash at the venue on Friday. “Please adhere to this guidance to avoid any embarrassing situations,” Mugisha warned in the letter. Amid the confusion, both UCU teams made the journey from Mukono.
On the other hand, Fuba president Ambrose Tashobya was making endless phone calls. The Fuba boss said he tried reaching sports minister Charles Bakkabulindi (now in London for the Olympics) and NCS board chairman Anthony Katamba.
Katamba is also MTN’s legal and corporate affairs manager. “I got the minister and spoke to Aligawesa but couldn’t get Katamba. Aligawesa and Bakkabulindi told me they tried to get to Katamba in vain,” a frustrated Tashobya said.
Repeated calls from this newspaper to Katamba went unanswered.
Aligawesa, dressed in his workout gear, listened to all the murmurs in Lugogo. He seemed powerless and opted not speak to Sunday Monitor.
If the Lugogo issue is not resolved, Fuba might have to take back the games to the outdoor YMCA court, which is also at times unavailable for the league due to other porting activities.
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