Uganda! we can still reap large from the sowing of the barcelona legends last year


LAST year we talked excitedly, some of us, about the Barcelona Legends soccer team coming to Uganda to play an exhibition game, and we actually pulled it off as a country!
There was a little hitch in the beginning but we (the country Uganda) quickly overcame it thanks to there being more good Ugandans than bad ones, and by December we were registering success.
The Legends played at Nambole Stadium against the Uganda Cranes AllStars – a team specially built for that charity match – and got thrashed 5-3 in a thrilling game that gave us legend Patrick Kluivert scoring a magnificent goal shot from nearby the halfway line.
The goal was so classy that goal.com featured it under the headline, ‘Move Over Messi; Kluivert Scores The Goal Of The Season!’
They left after a week, and that seemed to be it. Some people complained a little on social media platforms and called the arrangement a rip off because of who the Legends were – since they expected a game with Barcelona FC, and others said the President and Uganda Tourism Board had wasted money having offered to fund the exhibition game.
The complaints came from people who were not appraised about the reason for the Barcelona Legends game.
See, during their time here the Barcelona Legends went gorilla tracking and visited a couple of other tourism hotspots, as well as Kampala’s very lively night scene; and they interacted with many of our children under a programme with UNICEF, as well as through a scouting initiative.
All the while, they were tweeting their experiences, and getting coverage in the international media, and updating their Facebook pages – official and personal – with

Barcelona-legends-in-Bwindi-Forest
Photo: http://www.showbizuganda.com

details about this fantastic place with its magnificent tourism offerings and great, hospitable, generous, talented people.

All thanks to Tourism’s Amos Wekesa and Basketball’s Ambrose Tashobya, the two fellows who put their backs and elbows into ensuring the Legends’ plan went through, so that we reap benefits as a country.
The charity game, aka exhibition match, was just that; staged for various reasons: 1. To enable Uganda to showcase our good tourism offerings through celebrities who have a large global following; 2. To give us a platform for our soccer talent to show itself – as it did that week and on game day itself; 3. To create positive talking points around Uganda, rather than the usual negative kaboozi we sometimes like to attract and portray; 4. To open the minds of the large following of Barcelona FC to Uganda, and therefore the minds of anyone who even googles Barcelona since their results would show up the word Uganda at some point in time.
Kluivert’s goal was a major bonus for us; he tweeted a video of his goal on December 14, 2015 to his 790,000 followers and it was re-tweeted 5,096 times and got 4,227 likes within a short while. Among the people who commented was Luis Garcia with his 270,000 followers (then) watching. The video itself, by now, must have garnered more than 10million views – all saying “Uganda” in positive light.
Think about this: that goal and even the game being talked about on goal.com and other such websites gave all the Ugandan soccer players in that game visibility on the world’s premier online soccer platforms – which many of them don’t enjoy every day.
FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) has 17million followers, most of whom saw these tweets from their former players, the Legends, just as each of the major Legends’ millions of followers.
Not only that, though – Amos Wekesa, because of his intimate involvement in getting the Barcelona Legends game under way, has been off to Barcelona to push the ‘Visit Uganda for tourism’ agenda with such success that in a few weeks time you will be hearing more

Barcelona Legends in Uganda
From L-R: Ambrose Tashobya, Rayco Garcia, Edgar Davids & Amos Wekesa at the Sheraton Kampala Hotel. (Photo: http://www.safari-uganda.com)

 

about an airline called Air Europa (I won’t spoil that story by telling it prematurely), owned by Jose Jose ‘Pepe’ Hidalgo.

All this is coming to me now because the official fifteen-minute video of the Barcelona Legends visit to Uganda is finally ready for airing. It is not a video for us to gawk over here in Uganda, no. It is a video that will promote Uganda. It contains footage of the Legends enjoying themselves in this country, for anyone watching it to imagine themselves doing just that over here.
And, I have been told, the video is going to be aired soon on Barcelona TV, which has about 400million viewers worldwide, and to television stations in all Spanish speaking countries worldwide which could mean 800million viewers (probably NOT counting the United States). Besides those two, the video is also going to be aired on the French and Dutch national televisions under arrangements made by the promoters of individual Barcelona Legend players.
On top of that, the reason the promoters of the charity exhibition game undertook the venture was to set up a footballing academy here to take Ugandan players onto the bigger global stage and to give Ugandan coaches a higher level of exposure. You might have seen mention in the papers of one Geoffrey ‘Baba’ Kizito being snapped up by the Spanish team Malaga?
There is more to come.
Which is why I am changing focus this week, and hoping my compatriots do the same and wake up out of our slumber. We need to learn a bit of Spanish now, so that we make use of the opportunities being opened up by the Barcelona Legends; we need to get in touch with agents in Spain and make contacts with potential counterparts there so we absorb the tourists and businesspeople bound to take an interest in this part of the world, now that a window has been opened up.
We need to study Spain and find out what they like so that we can give it to them over here. If the Spanish like their food rich and creamy, then we need to set up menu options in specific (or ALL) restaurants for those who might make the decision to come to Uganda.
If they like dancing a certain type of dance and cannot do without it, then let’s open up those dancing rooms for them so they are not too homesick when they visit.
Actually, start with the basics and someone set up a website or a series of guide books with translations from Spanish to our local Ugandan dialects – if even 1% of all the numbers quoted above actually board a plane to Uganda (aboard Air Europa?) you will be assured of good sales!
Eventually, we will forgive the Prime Minister of Spain for his “Spain is not Uganda” comment if he contributes to his nationals coming here as tourists or businesspeople buying up our processed goods to sell in Spain and beyond, and we do enough to receive them for a neat profit.

calling all scriptwriters for the #SheCranes movie – For God and My Country


Photo Courtesy of josephowino.com
Photo Courtesy of josephowino.com
In 1993 the movie “Cool Runnings” tickled our sides and our imaginations, those of us in settings similar to the Jamaicans in that movie. The plot had a village of rural Jamaicans (aren’t they all?) sending a team of bobsledders to take part in the Winter Olympics.
It was unbelievable but gave us hope that ordinary, unlikely people were capable of doing anything if they had the determination and focus for it.
The Jamaicans didn’t even have snow or ice cold conditions to help them train, but they persevered enough to dispatch a team to the Winter Games.
Watching the movie, we focused less on the cold, wintry location of the games (I can’t even recall what country hosted the event) but saw a lot of Jamaica’s sunny climes, warm, clean sandy beaches, fun and lively atmosphere and those musically charged, highly entertaining people.
Whereas the film itself earned its backers more than US$150million (back then), it earned Jamaica even ten times that in tourism dollars because of what we saw about the country and the Jamaicans.
These thoughts were running cooly through my mind as I watched the Jamaican netball team extinguish our hopes of the She Cranes bringing home the Netball World Cup this year.
Those thoughts made me realise that even if those heroines haven’t brought back that trophy, they have given us a massive opportunity we shouldn’t let go begging the way we let them go begging in order to honour us with their sweat, talent and positive energy.
We should make a movie about the She Cranes.
This movie would tell the world an inspirational story about the triumph of hard work and perseverance – by this small group of young, energetic, patriotic, hope-filled ladies and their backers fighting all odds to get to Australia for the World Cup.
The movie would portray the girls in their home setting as they go around training for the games with a backdrop of fantastic scenery that will involve waterfalls, national parks, bird sanctuaries, and beautiful forests.
In between training sessions the movies will depict the girls following an organic diet of fresh food from bountiful gardens full of well-arranged crops, and prepared by jolly chefs whipping up different types of Rolex and buxom cooks using things like endaggala to make delicacies like oluwombo.
The banter within the movie, meanwhile, will be full of the positive vibes that most Ugandans represent in their day to day lives – the humour, the hope, the resilience that the She Cranes themselves showed throughout their journey to the World Cup.
And all throughout, the movie script writer will ensure that the icons that represent Uganda are made visible all through so that wherever they are seen thereafter they sell the country to tourists and investors.
On that note, actually, stop for a minute and clap your hands for that Ugandan chap who was wearing the Uganda Cranes t-shirt during the Uganda-Jamaica nailbiter and got featured widely all across Africa (and the world) on TV.
THAT is how to advertise a brand!
Every ten minutes of the She Cranes movie should, for instance, have a shot of the Uganda Cranes and She Cranes t-shirts – which will make our icons even more recognisable and loved wherever we go.
And like the She Cranes, the people wearing those t-shirts will always be engaged in activities that depict hard work – not hanging around in bars ‘living it up’.
Like the She Cranes, all the Ugandans in that movie will be shown heroically solving problems using the meagre resources available to them. Like the She Cranes, all the Ugandans in that movie will show great amounts of strength and resilience, such that our children – boys and girls alike – will all take up netball as their sport of choice!
That movie, ladies and gentlemen, can change very many things for Uganda here and abroad. The script writers can do such a good job at it that we could get the top 100 tax payers in Uganda to donate netball pitches and equipment to schools in every district, and build a stronger supply of players for the She Cranes.
If individuals like Pamela Ankunda (she of National ID fame) could do so much leg work raising interest and funds for this team to go to the World Cup, imagine what the rest of us – individuals, families and companies alike – can achieve?
But we won’t get that message through articles like these or from a barrage of SMS messages – even though that certainly does help; in fact, you must go and read this blog post by Joseph Owino making even more hefty suggestions.
Let’s get a good team of movie makers to make a movie that will draw everybody into Uganda, rallying around the superb work of the She Cranes.
I even have a title suggestion already: ‘For God and My Country’!