For some Volunteering is an avenue to counteract the effects of stress, anger depression and anxiety, but for FISU student ambassador Lakisa Mercy Faith from Uganda, Volunteerism is a way of life. Lakisa is a student of Makerere University in Uganda she serves on the executive committee of the association for Ugandan University Sports, The African University sports federation and the International university sports federation as a member of the student committee. And also, currently in Uganda, I am a member of the national youth council, that overseas females in the district called Alebtong.
Lakisha revealed her passion for sports and volunteering in a sit down with Glitzsport.
Tell us about yourself and your sports journey
I am a very flexible person and open minded. I am very passionate about sports and politics and I have had various opportunities to serve in leadership positions in school and in different capacity. Currently I serve I am a goal getter, when I want something or see an opportunity, I grab it with both hands.
My sports journey started at the age of 12 though it was not a very fond memory as came in last in my first try at athletics yet it did not discourage me. This was why when the opportunity was offered to us to learn the sport Cricket, I volunteered again though I did not know what sport was Cricket, I went to the field and I really liked the game and I never looked back from there and It has been rewarding in my first year of training and learning the sport I got the opportunity to be in the national U-15 side for Uganda and went to my first international tournament that year an East African tournament. Consequently, over the years, I played for the U-19 and later on the women’s league which I still play in till date.
Still on my Sports Journey, I have been involved in a lot volunteerism, I have Volunteered several times in international cricket events that my country hosted, I volunteer in FISU events, FASU events, basically anything to do with sports where I have an opportunity to volunteer myself, I have done so, I am still doing it and I think I will continue doing it.
- As the representative of the African student body in FASU, what are your responsibilities and how have you coped with them?
As a student’s representative in FASU, I head the students committee and ensure a full representation of their views to the executive committee. Also, on the same, make recommendations to executive committee about, strategies that can positively influence sport or support the practice of university sports.
at all levels and among all students. I also informed that executive committee about the expectations of students in the field of sports in education and in any field that is relevant to the students and act as an alias between the students and FASU and also promote the participation of the students in university sports all through. I also propose, encourage maybe new projects, development of new policies, strategies, sealing the field of sports in education and any other field that is relevant to ask students. Well, it’s, uh, not been as easy. Given that this is the second time that FASU is having a student, incorporated into the executive committee. So, we’re coming from a point where it’s a bit new experience and the thing is weird. The student’s committee doesn’t meet physically or any other committees for that matter. So, most of the engagements, are online, and we reach out to them through different platforms. The best way to have them on board is to have representatives from the different zones or the regions. Using the rule of one representative per zone to become part of the committee, there we share ideas which is not easy as you also have to consider the unique African situation of Anglophone and Francophone countries in FASU. So, it is important to always integrate the two different entities, and have their views and ideas also captured and definitely they all go through different challenges. So it’s still a tug of war, but I hope that in the year will bring us better luck.
- We saw sports take a different turn due to the pandemic, what was done best by the organization and what can be improved
COVID-19 did take us unaware and it pushed us to a field that we had never really explored before. And, this resulted in online engagements. The organization saw a lot of engagements with different committees online, something that hadn’t really happened before. being in a situation where you have to find ways of ensuring the ball continues to roll regardless of the previous precedence.
Even up to now, we are still having online engagements, but now that the COVID situation is a bit Okay. People are, things are trying to get back to normal. Recently, FASU had a seminar which was both physical and online. FASU continues to push within its means to keep in touch with its members and to see to it that some of these activities that were planned gets to happen. Some of the issues that came with this is that it showed that African’s are not ready and are very complacent with online engagement, even with the students, it has been hard getting people on board.
What needs to be done to improve the situation is, first the universities have a very big role to play even before FASU can come in. The internet situation in Africa is already known and when students are out of school environment where they have free internet their online life becomes a little bit limited. I believe universities can enhance their program to include and encourage online features where students are encouraged to participate in. This will help familiarize the students to events participation online and therefore translate to positive for other organizations like FASU.
- Tell us a little bit about the FISU Ambassador role and how it has shaped and changed your outlook on sports participation?
A FISU student ambassador acts as a link between FISU and communities where FISU is present. Their role is to promote university sport as well as raise more awareness about university sports movement among the different structures that exist and encouraging all students to be actively involved in sports and also promoting events that are organized by FISU, the NUSF, by the continental university sports federation etc. Actively participating in the celebration of day of University sports and so many other roles.
Being a FISU student ambassador and a volunteer really changed my outlook on sports. It’s gave a comprehensive approach to planning and management of volunteers for any event. Now I have an in-depth understanding on the need for volunteerism and how to effectively put one together when needed. Volunteering also give room for people who are less athletic but are passionate about sports to participate in sports events.
- This Year is the 31th Universiade, have you been to any previous game? what are your expectations?
I have been to the past two summer Universiade in Taipei 2017 and Napoli 2019. My expectations are to as before experience high level performance displayed by the different participants. There are certain spots that you get to see and you ask yourself if they actually exist or where people even play them from, the gathering of thousands of students from all over the world with different disciplines, different talents, that’s my description of a global village.
- Which African games (university, national team events) have you attended; what was the experience like and how has it shaped you?
The world university netball championships hosted in Uganda in 2018 I was in the local organizing committee. The first Africa, Kings of rugby championships also held in Uganda. The 3×3 basketball, held in Nairobi Kenya and house games which are held every two years. I have volunteered at almost all these events if I’m not participating as an athlete, I still have other things to offer African University sports.
- What do you believe is the greatest challenges most student athletes are facing today? And what can be done?
In my opinion, the greatest challenges that our student athletes face is lack of a sense of direction and proper support system. Looking at the athletes in an emotional and physical context, mentally and intellectually, many of them are just focused on what they can gain at that point. And it becomes so hard for athletes to be consistent when it comes to performance at a new level. For me, an athlete is actually 20% physical and 80% psychology. People use their minds as much as they use their bodies. And we haven’t gotten to the point where athletes really have a support system and are looked at them as a whole. We need to establishment of mentorship programs to help in building the next generation of athletes in all aspects.
- What are your short- and long-term goals for the next few months to a couple years?
I always strive to be better than I am today. I try to better myself, to take greater risks every day. And I would like to definitely focus on, mentorship so that many more people can do better than I am today. And to also, you know, encourage and supports, promote, good ethics, dual career among athletes and education among our athletes as well. And in the years to come, I look forward to further my education in the line of sport integrated with sports medicine and administration. So that. I am not completely cut off from sports or my chosen field of Medicine. I also look forward to having lots of community outreaches, because I believe that sport has the ability to bring about social change and also development in our African countries. So, I look forward to utilizing this channel to cause a positive change in our societies to touch lives of the under privileged in so many different ways.
- Your idea on getting African University sports to the next level?
One thing for sure is that Africa is blessed with a wealth of sporting talent, including when they’re disabled, it’s perfectly capable of competing with the rest of the world in any fields and able to perform on any internationals stage, but this will require identification and proper grooming of these talents for them to be able to exploit their skills and achieve their ambitions. This will require a lot of work, a fight, a true commitment, but most of all, it also require the love of the sport generations. The governments also have a fundamental role to play in ensuring the growth and sustainability of sports in the continent, we need our governments to pay more attention to sports especially when it comes to budgeting, development of our facilities and infrastructure to properly engage the sports industry.
Why are you so passionate about sports?
One reason for anyone to be passionate about sports is the fact that it’s a tool for promoting peace, unity and cohesion. It’s an Avenue for emotional expression and sometimes an escape from the trouble life. It gives you a sense of belonging, like a connection to a wider world of experience. This is aside from the obvious health benefits of being actively involved in sports either as an athlete, an administrator or a volunteer.