World University Games empowering women through sports
KAMPALA - Penninah Aligawesa Kabenge, an influential sports leader from Uganda, firmly believes that more women in leadership roles are essential for the progress of sports administration. As the President of the Association of Uganda University Sports (AUUS) and the first female Vice President of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), she has broken barriers and shattered glass ceilings, becoming an inspiration for women not just in Africa but around the world.
Kabenge's journey to success is a testament to her unwavering determination and dedication. Growing up in a large family of eleven children, with three brothers, she learned the value of hard work and perseverance from an early age. In a male-dominated field, she defied societal norms and paved her way through sheer grit and passion for sports.
She is a vocal advocate for women's empowerment in the workplace, emphasizing that while hard work is essential, true success at the highest-level demands discipline, self-belief, and continuous personal development. Her straightforward nature and honesty have endeared her to many, making her a respected and admired figure in sports leadership.
Kabenge's educational background further enriched her journey. Holding Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Education and Sports Studies from Makerere University, she not only excelled academically but also competed as a student-athlete in numerous national, continental, and international competitions. Her athletic prowess and experience competing alongside African legends like Mary Onyali motivated her to push boundaries and make her mark.
After her athletic career, Kabenge transitioned into sports administration, where she made significant contributions to various sports organizations in Uganda. Since 1992, she has served as the Head of the Sports and Recreation department at Makerere University. Her extensive experience in sports management has further solidified her belief in the importance of diversity and inclusion in leadership positions.
As a visionary leader, Kabenge understands that empowering women in sports administration brings fresh perspectives, ideas, and approaches that can lead to transformative changes in the sporting world. By breaking gender barriers and promoting a culture of gender equality, she strives to create an environment where women can thrive and excel in sports leadership roles.
Kabenge's journey is an inspiration for aspiring women leaders in sports and beyond. Her story of triumph over adversity and her unwavering commitment to advancing gender equality in sports make her a beacon of hope for countless individuals. As she continues to spearhead positive change in sports administration, her legacy will undoubtedly serve as a catalyst for more women to step into leadership positions and contribute to the growth and success of sports globally.
Meanwhile, Team Uganda is gearing up for the upcoming World University Games, set to take place from July 27 to August 8 in Chengdu, China. The delegation consists of 53 members, including 40 athletes and 13 officials, who will proudly represent the country at the prestigious event.
The team's departure to China will be carried out in phases, with the first batch leaving Uganda on July 25, followed by the rest of the delegation on July 26 and 27, respectively.
The student-athletes selected to participate in the Games hail from ten different universities in Uganda. These universities include Uganda Christian University, Makerere University, YMCA, Bishop Stuart University, Gulu University, Ndejje University, Kyambogo University, ISBAT University, Makerere University Business School, and Victoria University.
The preparations for the Games began in March, with the student-athletes attending residential training camps at Ndejje University, Uganda Christian University, and Makerere University.
Uganda has a commendable history at the World University Games, having secured medals in previous editions. In the 29th World University Games, the country achieved 34th place overall with one gold medal in the 10,000M event by Bahati Sadic, one silver medal in the 1500M event, and one bronze medal in the 800M event, both won by Ajok Docus, all representing Ndejje University.
During the 30th edition of the Games in Napoli, Italy, in 2019, Uganda continued its success, clinching silver and bronze medals in track and field events. Docus Ajok secured a bronze medal in the women's 800M final, while Shida Leni earned a silver medal in the 400M final.
With a history of strong performances and medal-winning student-athletes, Team Uganda is ready to compete with determination and showcase their talent on the international stage at the World University Games in Chengdu, China.
The World University Games, scheduled for the summer of 2023 (28 July - 8 August), will be hosted in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, China. The city is already making the most of its experience in hosting the Chengdu 2021 FISU World University Games, using it as an opportunity to enhance its sports intellectual property (IP) and establish itself as a renowned destination for sports events globally.
Being the first world-class sports event in western China, the Chengdu 2021 Games have injected a newfound energy into the city's sports and university atmosphere. This vibrant setting promises an exhilarating experience for the student-athletes participating in the upcoming 2023 Games. Chengdu's unique blend of sporting excellence and rich historical heritage offers participants a captivating combination of food, sports, and culture, leaving a lasting impact beyond the fields and events.
With China being home to approximately twenty percent of the world's university students, the national university sports federation has proven its capability to organize top-quality student sports events, even on relatively short notice. FISU President Oleg Matytsin expressed full confidence in Chengdu's ability to be an exceptional host for the World University Games, leaving a positive and enduring impression on both the participants and the city itself.
As the preparations for the 2023 World University Games continue, Chengdu is ready to welcome athletes, students, and sports enthusiasts from around the world, providing them with an unforgettable experience of sportsmanship, cultural exchange, and camaraderie. The event promises to strengthen Chengdu's position as a prominent city for sports events and foster a sense of unity among the global university community.