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How Uganda can make the most of Afcon 2027

Aerial view of Namboole stadium. Photo: @AshabaFaridah

Aerial view of Namboole stadium. Photo: @AshabaFaridah

At the very least, I expect Fufa to address the nation with some key takeaways from the just-concluded Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

Planning, security, marketing as well as the action on the pitch itself, are never-ending learning issues in hosting international football tournaments. I say this because Uganda is preparing to jointly-host the 2027 Afcon. Unfortunately, I do not expect much from Fufa beyond the usual rhetoric.

After all, I know that Fufa’s biggest concern is not the success of the tournament but government’s funding of the federation for the preparation and organization. I am well aware that this current Fufa regime, which is contented with hosting national team games in empty stadiums, cannot clamour to ensure full capacity stadiums at Afcon.

So, it will take a concerted effort from other stakeholders if Uganda is to host a successful Afcon. The 2027 Afcon is a pivotal part of Uganda’s efforts to seek a boost in foreign investments and tourism.

Government spent about Shs 70 billion to host the recent Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Heads of State and Government as well as the G77+China summits. However, Afcon supersedes this by a mile because, whereas the summits attracted about 2,000 delegates, Uganda should expect hundreds of thousands of visitors in the Afcon period.

So, on that note, it is prudent to implore government to take Afcon as a potential game-changer for our economy, a tournament that could change our country’s fortunes. But before we even start planning for the visitors, it is wise to first excite Ugandans. Out of the population of 46 million Ugandans, there is need to have at least one million people glued to Afcon 2027.

Now is the time to start pumping and bombarding them with Afcon branding. Beyond football, a tournament of Afcon’s magnitude provides much bigger opportunities in increased tourism, merchandising, hospitality services and improved infrastructure, among others.

So, given the large numbers of domestic and international visitors expected for the Afcon, we are several steps behind and we have a daunting task to prepare for a successful Afcon. The extremely pessimistic Ugandans on social media do not help matters.

Yet Afcon is an opportunity for Uganda to spread wings to the world, but Fufa has yet to understand that. At the very least, co-hosts Kenya and Tanzania already have the infrastructure in place to host matches, but Uganda still has to build a second stadium to complement Namboole.

But before we go into all that, the very basic thing needed at the moment is to have Afcon on people’s minds. Afcon should be the talk of Uganda and this can only be achieved through early branding and marketing efforts.

Entities such as Uganda Airlines and Uganda Investment Authority should already have a strategy to promote the tournament through the enhancement of their products.

For instance, whereas the official Pamoja 2027 Afcon logo and branding are yet to be released, it doesn’t hurt if all Uganda Airlines jets and inter-regional buses that ply the Mombasa-Kampala-Kigali route are emblazoned with Afcon 2027 messages to amplify visibility. The same can apply to taxis.

And this is something government can easily direct. Even the Health ministry can seize the opportunity to anchor and integrate their campaigns with Afcon 2027.

There should even be a promotional website and social media handle for the tournament. As a national effort, airline tickets should bear the 2027 Afcon message so that every tourist appreciates what’s coming up.

There should be screaming billboards reminding people that Uganda is about to host the biggest tournament on the continent. Already, the 2026 Fifa World Cup to be jointly hosted by Canada, Mexico, and the United States is being amplified by regular tidbits that keep football enthusiasts glued. I believe we can do it too with proper planning.

The author is SC Villa President Emeritus.

Comments

0 #1 The Ugandan… 2024-02-15 13:46
Mr. Missaga, this is all well and actually very good. However, you missed the most important factor, the national football team.

The best way to get Ugandans excited about AFCON, is to have a good Cranes football team.

A good Cranes team will unite Ugandans and have others claiming to be Ugandan.

The earlier we have one the better. Imagine the Cranes winning Morocco 2025 or the 2026 World Cup! Everyone including potential sponsors will fall over themselves trying to associate themselves with the Cranes. It’s possible!
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