By Denis Musali
I happened to be around lugogo for the closing ceremony for the annual national mini cricket festival where the different regional winners compete for bragging rights. Pupils both boys and girls compete in the U-11 and u-13 categories and the nationals have schools from as far as Soroti, Kasese and Masindi.
For some children this is an opportunity to visit Kampala for the 1st time, for example Balawoli Primary winners of the U-11 boys this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to come to the capital city. The school located another 40kms out of Kamuli town is run by government under the UPE scheme i was curious if these children will ever get a shot playing real cricket.
A small chat with someone familiar with those surroundings allayed my fears that the chances of them even getting to even the best school in Kamuli are very slim this due to many factors most of us take for granted such as school fees, cultural beliefs and family obligations. Left me wondering where do all the children who participate in our annual cricket week go?
On an annual basis the competition starts at the district level with over 146 schools each with atleast 20 players taking part, the winners at the district level qualify for the regional qualifiers from where the regional winners come to Kampala for the finals. Through out these competitions over 2000 pupils interact with the game for the first time or for the second time but somehow it all ends there for them.
Our absorption of talent still leaves a lot to be desired, we have gone with a model of numbers over but these numbers are yet to address the big picture. Our national team is suffering from a lack of quality numbers while we hadly watching the game.
For a pupil in Balawoli Kamuli his closet cricket facility is another 100kms away from them that is in Jinja meaning incase they had not gone beyond the district level they would have wait till next year when they see a cricket trainer again.
If you are to also look at interms of commercial value, these children come from some of the poorest backgrounds cricket is an expensive sport compared the other alternatives such as football, the family income itself is not sufficient for cable TV for them to even watch the world cup therefore the appreciation for the game even from home is so low.
For example Kyanjuki from Kasese has dominated mini cricket for so long but only until recently have they been given a chance to compete in our league through the generous efforts of Ivan Thawithemwira an individual. They have been lucky that CWB and Aziz Damani have supported the growth of cricket in the region but without it they would have to wait for that one single visit by the cricket trainer.
Therein lie some of the answers as to where some of the children? Some will argue that UCA has spread itself such wide that following up on all these numbers becomes hard. There is genuine talent when you watch the game in Kampala and with proper follow up will be able to find the next best thing for Uganda cricket.
The problem UCA has now is a good one to have, they have over 2000 children introduced to the game every year and what they need to figure out how to keep them interested in the game.
From a business perspective your need to know the Life Time Value of each child, that would help you focus on children with a high life time value so that you can find a bottom up balance.