KAMPALA, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Uganda's State Minister for Sports, Charles Bakkabulindi has praised the efforts the government of China has contributed towards sports development in Uganda.
Bakkabulindi told Xinhua in an interview on Wednesday that China coming to build the Mandela National Stadium, Namboole has helped raise the standards of football and athletics in particular.
"The facility is the best in the country and it is helping the country improve in sports all because of the good relationship the country has with China," he said.
The stadium that sits 45,500 was built with a grant of 36 million U.S. dollars from the government of China.
The stadium opened in 1997 was originally called Namboole Stadium, getting its name from the hill on which it was built. It is now officially called Mandela National Stadium, named after the former South African president, Nelson Mandela.
The biggest Stadium in Uganda is located on Namboole Hill in Bweyogerere Ward, Kira Municipality, Wakiso District.
Bakkabulindi said since the Stadium was constructed the standards of football has greatly improved which has made the country dominant in the East and central African region and also qualified for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
"It is because of good facilities at the Stadium built by China that Uganda has also improved greatly in athletics and produced top stars like Stephen Kiprotich who won gold at the 2012 Olympic Games," he added.
Since the Stadium was opened in 1997, Uganda and China have maintained a an on-running maintenance agreement with experts coming from China to keep the facility in good shape.
Lamex Omara Apitta, the Commissioner in-charge of physical Education in the Ministry of Education and Sports also said that the two-year agreement they signed with the government of China to maintain the Stadium has helped a lot because the facility has been kept in perfect condition.
"The agreement will end in April this year before we sit down and review it and see if it needs an extension," added Apitta.
The stadium was first refurbished in 2010-11, with a 2.8 million U.S. dollars grant from China. However through the short agreements between Uganda and China, the Stadium has been maintained with technical people coming from the China Sports International Co., Ltd.