Sports academies are nurturing the dreams of young people

Over the last decade or so, a number of sports academies have mushroomed to groom young people in various sports disciplines especially football.

They have become trendy but for some of the young people who join them, they have real ambitions of becoming sports stars.

Take an example of Haitham Katumba, 10, a Primary Four Pupil of Lohana Academy. His dream is to become another Lionel Messi so to realize it he has enrolled at the school’s soccer academy which meets very weekend.

Katumba joined the academy two years ago and believes his future lies in soccer.

Mustapha Musoke, a trainer at Lohana Sports academy said young people should be allowed to nurture their talents because not everyone will pursue an academic career.

He said the biggest challenge he faces are parents who want their children to play soccer only part time and not as a career ambition.

“Many parents think academies are places for children to kill time and have fun. They don’t realize that some of these children if supported can become stars and earn good money,” Musoke said.

Uganda has more than 30 registered sports academies with virtually all of them specializing in soccer. 

They are regulated by the Uganda Youth Football Association (UYFA) under close supervision of the Federation of Uganda Football Association (FUFA).

However, for one’s child to join the academy, they would have to part with money ranging from Shs 150,000 to 300,000 depending on the academy.

Usually this fee includes a set of uniforms and a pair of boots. In addition, most academies charge a daily or monthly user fee which could range between Shs 10,000 and 20,000.

Most academies are seasonal and only work at full capacity during school holidays, when children are at home.

Joe Kigozi, founder of Joe Kigozi Academy said he started the academy in 2019 to fill the gap of nurturing young talent .

He said the academy admits both boys and girls between the ages of 6 and 16.

So far it has a total of 100 players.

“Our aim is to achieve SDG Goal 3 which aims at ensuring healthy lives and promoting well being at all ages,” he said.

Perhaps the only multi-discipline sports academy is Olympia Sports Academy which is based in Lubowa along Entebbe Road.

Its founder, Omer Selli told Youth Blitz that they have about 200 children enrolled for training in football, tennis, basketball and swimming.

“Our vision is to be the best sports academy that inspires young athletes to reach their dreams through sports under the core values of positive attitude, leadership, excellence, good character and teamwork,” Selli said.

The academy uses some of the established sports people to train the youngsters.

One of them is Vipers footballer Yunus Sentamu who regularly takes the youngsters through drills.

Moses Kibuye, whose 12-year-old son is enrolled in one of the sports academies, said they (sports academies) are good at developing children into complete human beings

“Children get leadership skills, social skills and other skills in these academies. It is not just about football,” Kibuye said.


Musoke, the trainer said the major challenge many sports academies face is the perception that sports are for people who ‘fail’ in life.

“That is why many parents do not want to commit their children to academies full time,” he said.

Secondly, he said, academies are expensive ventures that require stable funding.  Most academies have to hire sports grounds and things like goal posts, cones, jerseys

Yet there are encouraging signs that some people’s perceptions towards sports is changing for the better.

“Gradually, some parents have started to realize that there is money in sport. They see Cheptegei, Kiprotich succeeding on the global scene and want their children to be like them,” Musoke said.

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