By Saltray Lubega
KAMPALA, July 9, 2018- “I used to play without shoes from a football pitch like this in my country before I went to Europe” those were the words of former Arsenal and Ivory Coast football player, Emmanuel Eboue. Emmanuel Eboue who was on a trip to Uganda, said that during his visit to Acholi Quarters, one of Uganda’s prominent slums where The Aliguma Foundation carries out sports outreach programs in a bid to help change the lives in this community.
Flanked by Ibrahim Sonko, the Senegalese football maestro, Eboue encouraged the slum youths to take him as an example during their struggle to achieve success in sports. It takes determination and God to become what you want to be. “Look at them, they got talent here but they need good facility. They need someone to help them achieve their dream. Someone helped me that’s why I became who I became so I also have to help someone. It takes just one person to make it from this community. I pray that God touches people’s hearts to help these talented young people”
On his part, Sonko urged the leaders to create a conducive environment for these youths to thrive. “Look at all the people watching the game, am sure every time there’s a game here there’s moms, young kids, everyone comes but we are not doing the right thing. This has to stop, it needs to change because it hurts me to see talented kids not having the same opportunity as I had when I was growing up. We’ve watched them play and they showed great talent and technical skill. They love football so they’ll play in any condition which makes it very easy to get hurt but they keep on playing” said the former Senegalese footballer who was awed by the magnificent view of the partly gravel pitch. Sonko intimated that it was one of the best views on a football pitch he’s ever seen, “why can’t we make it a football pitch for kids?” he asked?
The event attracted several leaders who included the Nakawa Mayor, Mr. Balimwezo who pledged to support the Aliguma Foundation whenever they need him.
The Aliguma Foundation whose mission is to transform lives of underprivileged people through sports especially football starting from the slums of Acholi Quarters, was encouraged by these soccer stars who have a great following in the community. The event was organised with the help of BungaBet an online sports betting firm whose base is in the UK While addressing the young people, Mr. Prosper Tuhaise the BungaBet CEO pledged to support The Aliguma Foundation in promotion of sports and talent development starting with soccer balls and replacing the wooden goal posts at the Acholi Quarters field with metallic ones. He also committed to the idea of taking some of these underprivileged kids back to school in a bid to help the Foundation achieve it’s goals.
In her remarks, Ritah Aliguma the founder was grateful to the guests for coming to the slums, a very big boost to her efforts of encouraging young people to get involved in sports as a deterrent to the crime which is common in the slum setting. “My motivation is to see these slum kids become better people, so exposing them to other options like SlumSoccer has given me more momentum to keep on looking for ways of achieving that. I always want to bring in more people to speak to them, give them hope and encourage them like Emmanuel Eboue who said he lived in similar conditions before he became a star. Football is one of the tools that can help transform their lives. We believe that sports will definitely make a difference in their lives said Ritah Aliguma who is also the Uganda Sports Press Association vice president.