This marks the most significant revamp in the sports sector that Uganda has witnessed in over half a century.
Magogo, the Budiope East legislator who initially introduced the bill to Parliament in November 2022, highlighted the need for immediate reforms.
“We have criminalized age falsification and document falsification which has been a very big vice in schools’ football. But this is where we pick our athletes from,” Magogo said.
“So, again the perpetrators [of these acts], there is no way you can ban them as schools’ sports, because what are you going to do to them.”
Yet, the lack of digital records in the country has been the main driver helping unscrupulous sportsmen and school officials falsify ages to appear younger to get opportunities
The new law arrives in the wake of numerous incidents involving age and identity falsification, notably in schools’ sports.
The legislation aims to cut down these manipulations, driven by the allure of fame and opportunity. This is especially by private schools which often prey on talented young people from less affluent backgrounds.
In the past, such issues manifested in players repeating classes and participating in school-level competitions. An example is the Copa Coca-Cola championship previously or any other continental and international competitions.
The issue has had international ramifications for Uganda. The country has faced disqualification from age-specific tournaments.
In 2016, the Uganda U20 national team was disqualified from the 2017 under-20 World Cup qualifier against Egypt. This followed a complaint from Rwanda about an overage player.
It was found that Goalkeeper James Ahebwa had been registered to play for SC Villa in the Caf Champions League two years earlier. He was using a birth date of 1997. Yet for the under-20 qualifiers, he produced a passport that stated he was born in 1998.
More recently, Royal Giants Mityana was denied visas for the South Africa CAF African Schools Football Championship in March 2023 for age-related discrepancies.
There have been localized measures to curb this vice. Therefore, the advent of a national law, helps ease policing against the vice. For example, FUFA uses a strict club licensing system.
This includes, among other things, the need to provide a national ID or passport.
A five year digital agenda created by the Ministry of Education and Sports in 2021 had a significant impact on how many students were enrolled in schools.
The Education Management Information System (EMIS) portal must be used by schools to register students. In June 2022, this exercise started.
The information gathered by educational institutions is meant to act as the foundational knowledge for student verification.
Headteachers will also utilize the NINs to send learners’ school-based assessment results to the Uganda National Examinations Board (UNEB) in accordance with the new lower secondary curriculum.
The Uganda Secondary Schools Sports Association (USSSA) may access this procedure for its own use.
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