KAMPALA, Oct. 9 (Xinhua) -- Woodball, a little known sport in Uganda is becoming popular as youths in the east African country are passionate about the sport.
The popularity is also evidenced by Uganda's participation in five Woodball World Cups. The latest was the 8th Woodball World Cup held in July where Uganda finished second behind the host Thailand.
Woodball in Uganda is about 10 years old since it was introduced in the country by Paul Kayongo who was a sports tutor at one of the country's universities, Ndejje University.
Kayongo told Xinhua in a recent interview that he conceived the idea back in 2006 after attending an International University Sports Federation General Assembly in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
"I decided to pioneer the sport in the university where I had influence and because of that we have managed to spread the game in other universities and now it has grown to clubs and corporates," Kayongo said.
Woodball has since 2008 been a medal sport at the inter-university games.
Kayongo said overtime, the number of players has now grown to 4,000 active players, noting that the country now has national, university and corporate leagues.
The fast growth of the game in Uganda has elevated the country to a model, which other African countries are learning from, according to Kayongo.
"We have also managed to spread the game to countries like Nigeria, South Sudan, Zambia, Tanzania, Mauritius, Malawi, Kenya, Gabon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cameroon, South Africa and Sierra Leon," he said.
The progress also compelled the world woodball governing body, International Woodball Federation to donate equipment to Uganda to manufacture woodball gear.
Lilian Zawedde, one of Uganda's top woodball players told Xinhua that the sport is growing bigger and more players are going to come on board.
"We love woodball and will continue to promote it and bring in as many people to play it," said Zawedde.
John Bosco Onyik, the board chairman of the National Council of Sports, a state agency charged with management of sports told Xinhua that they are happy with the way the woodball federation is running the sport.
"They are one of the best organized federations in Uganda and we shall continue to give them financial and technical assistance because they are developing the sport locally and performing well at international level," Onyik said.
Kayongo heads the Uganda Woodball Federation which is charged with the coordination of all woodball activities in the country.
Charles Bakkabulindi, the minister of state for sports told Xinhua that the government will continue supporting the woodball federation, noting that they have proved themselves to be good.