IN GULU, UGANDA
There is a pile of mud next to the murram track at Pece Stadium, the epicentre of the athletics competition at the East Africa Secondary School Games.
It’s clearly far from ready for the 16th edition of the games, which start on Saturday following the screening of the 3500 competitors on Friday.
“The rain has stopped us from doing anything,” the project coordinator, Denis Ojwe, said. “We were only given a two-month notice to host the games, yet it rains heavily here in August and December. On many days, we have come here and did nothing as we have had to wait for the rains to stop, and it never stops.”
All around the grounds, graders and tractors are working to make the venue ready. The only happy workman is the painter as he covers the 100-seater stand in a deep coat of green, blue and white colours.
Venues for field events (shot put, discuss and javelin) are the worst sight inside the stadium. The grounds make for an undulating surface and it’s unlikely it will be levelled in time for the competition.
High jump, triple jump and long jump venues have not yet had their strip dug out.
“Luckily for us, athletics is one of the last events. If the rains stay away for the next few days, we will be able to finish our job,” an optimistic Ojwe promises.
The scenario at Pece is the same as in all the other locations for the games.
Justus Mugisha, the head of the Uganda Senior Secondary Schools’ Association (USSSA), insists there is no cause for alarm.
“There is nothing to fear at all. We are ready for the logistical challenges that come with this event. We know what we are doing and will deliver the best event,” Mugisha said.
Across town, the basketball courts at Kaunda are getting a thorough makeover. Slashing is ongoing at Gulu High School, the venue for the rugby competition.
Teams, such as Sega (volleyball), Wiyeta Girls (football) among others, went through their paces on the freshly-slashed pitches at Sacred Heart Secondary School on Friday.
This will be the venue for most of the indoor games to be held in the main where the Kenyan contingent held their final meeting when we visited. You would want to dismiss Mugisha’s words once you set your eyes on the swimming pool at St Joseph’s College Layibi, the centre of the games.
Sinyolo will be looking to make it five titles in a row at this year’s event.