By Agatha Muhairwe/Kigali Rwanda
The Silverbacks, Uganda’s national basketball team currently knocking odds in the Afro-Basketball championships in Kigali, Rwanda is at the mercy of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) due to impecuniousness.
The silverbacks have made the nation proud going against odds to beat Cameroon and have a neck-to-neck game with South Sudan at the ongoing competitions in Kigali, Rwanda.
However, the team is too broke that they are currently living on credit in the neighboring state.
In a letter from the President of Uganda’s Basketball’s Federation, Nasser Sserunjogi, he confirmed that FIBA and Rwanda gave them an ultimatum of Sunday 29th (last night) August to clear all outstanding dues or face the embarrassment of being withdrawn for lack of money.
“We have run out of excuses and we are afraid of being embarrassed. We have tried as much as possible to keep this away from the team such that they can focus on playing the game, however, we have run out of time,” Sserunjogi said.
He said they are afraid of the team is evicted on financial grounds, the country will be deeply embarrassed.
The team’s woes stem from a misunderstanding over their trip to Morocco where they would later qualify for the Afro Basketball championships in Kigali.
According to Sserunjogi, the government of Uganda supported the team during the first window of the qualification in Egypt with Shs338m.
In February 2021, during the second window in Tunisia government again supported the team with Shs333m, but the team did not play any games following being hit by COVID.
Sserunjogi however states the money that had been given to them was in reimbursements after the team had already spent on travels and welfare.
“FIBA then gave us another chance to play against Morocco and Cape Verde on July 15 and 18th respectively and the same was communicated to the National Council of Sports (NCS). However, we were informed by NCS that there was no money to support our qualifying campaign,” Sserunjogi notes.
He says that since they could not now give up on the qualification process, they informed NCS that they would go ahead to borrow money and foot the Morocco tourney and hope to be reimbursed.
After beating Morroco to qualify for the Kigali championships, the team was informed that the government had no money. In fact, the team nearly missed out on the trip to Kigali until on 16th August when the government released Shs340m for the event.
However, since the FUBA administration was stuck with a debt emanating from their expenses in Morocco, they decided to pay the debt and live on loans in Kigali.
“As we stand now, we need Shs360m to cater for our expenses in Kigali and also pay the remaining balances of the borrowed money.”
Sserunjogi notes that they have held talks with Sports Minister Hamson Obua but the government’s stand is that the money borrowed for Morocco was never sanctioned.