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23 December 2021 | in NUSF News

Ugandan university sport aiming at promotion, improvement and student participation looking ahead to 2022 and beyond

“We go to compete not to participate, “ remarked Peninnah Kabenge, the President of the Association of Uganda University Sport (AUUS) and FISU Vice President, as FISU Student Ambassador Aupal Emmanuel spoke to her about the involvement of Ugandan athletes in international university sports events.


AUUS, formerly NUSF (National University Sports Federation) of Uganda, was formed in 1992 by four universities and initiated by Era Mugisa, then the Principal Sports Tutor at Makerere University. AUUS is affiliated with Federation of Africa University Sports (FASU), and it has been a member since 1971. It became affiliated with FISU in 1999 and currently has 28 member universities with over 3,000 university students participating in events held annually across several Ugandan universities.


AUUS has a vision “to live what others dream” and several steps have been undertaken to achieve its objectives: promoting university interactions through sports, improving sports development in universities, and student participation in university sports without any forms of discrimination.


Asked how information reaches every student, Kabenge says that it is conveyed through different media including sports departments of universities, social media pages, websites, newspapers, and press releases. The information outlines the offers AUUS has for students which include student education programmes like FISU Healthy Campus, FISU Volunteer Leaders Academy (FVLA), interuniversity games and competitions, and the latest developments of the association.


AUUS has short and long term goals, such as improving facilities within member universities that have their structures updated when they host games. With 20+ years in sports administration, Kabenge has a long term goal to take university sports to greater heights. She adds that she is working on AUUS having its own home and on it hosting more international sports events. Uganda has done this previously by hosting such events as the 3rd FISU World University Championship Woodball and the 3rd FISU World University Championship Netball, in which Uganda emerged winners.


Preparations for AUUS participation at the Chengdu 2021 FISU World University Games are underway with plans to take a delegation of about 70 people to China, and intentions to seriously compete. They additionally hope to participate in one team event this time around, most likely in basketball. They have always had the team represent well, like at the Gwangju 2015 and Taipei 2017 Summer Universiades. It is believed if they keep exposing the students, they shall seriously compete.


As for the now canceled Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade, there were no plans for participation. Being a country that is not exposed to winter, Uganda struggles to field athletes for winter events, though Brolin Mawejje represented the country and the entire continent in the Almaty 2017 Winter Universiade in Almaty, Kazakhstan, competing as a snowboarder.


At the recently concluded Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, some competing athletes had previously represented Uganda at FISU World University Games. Four medals were won by former student athletes including long distance runner Joshua Cheptegei who was gold medalist in the 5000 metres. “[I] am proud, we have groomed some of these talents including Shida Leni, Winnie Nanyondo,” Kabenge added.


Regarding gender equality in AUUS programmes she said, “Gender has been high on our agenda. We offer more [or] less the same programs for both men and women. Most of the time when we are competing internationally, we always have a balanced composition of teams.”


When asked about projects over the next two years, Kabenge said, “We are preparing to host 2 FISU events [Kampala 2024 FISU World University Championship Mind Sport and Kampala 2024 FISU World University Championship Weightlifting]. ... We are also hosting the 2nd FASU King of Africa Rugby 7s and the 2nd FASU Tennis slam in Kampala this year [October 2021]. Our players will improve as they train for the games and [hosting will] also improve facilities.” She added, “By hosting these championships nationally, regionally, continentally, and internationally, we would have achieved some of the 5-year term goals. The most exciting bit about hosting these events is that they extend to our backyard which exposes Ugandans to international borders.”


When asked what makes AUUS special, the President said “The big time teamwork is what has made us what we are, we always agree to disagree, and we are a family.”