Michael Kawooya of Uganda hopes the lack of funds will not prevent him from becoming a professional squash player.
GLASGOW: You may not have heard of Michael Kawooya, but he is Uganda’s No. 1 squash player – eight years after taking up the sport.
And now the 25-year-old from Kampala is very keen to turn professional.
Unfortunately, the Uganda Squash Association have no funding as they don’t receive any financial assistance from the government.
He even has to coach school children to raise money to compete in domestic and overseas tournaments.
Kawooya fears that his wish would remain a pipe dream due to the lack of funds.
“I earn about US$600 (RM1,900) a month from coaching the school children. But it’s not enough as I travel a lot to different clubs in Uganda to train the kids,” he said.
“Sometimes I earn less when I take time off from coaching to compete in tournaments.
“Squash is not a popular sport in Uganda … so not many people play the game.
“The government pumps more money into football, which is the number 1 sport in Uganda.
“The government only funds the squash players for multi-sport event like the Commonwealth Games and African Games.
“But they don’t provide financial aid for squash tournaments,” added Kawooya, who is in Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games.
Kawooya said he is lucky to receive sponsored attire and also equipment from American company Harrow International, which deals with squash equipment.
Despite the lack of funds, Kawooya still managed to travel to Russia in 2012 – winning the one-star St Petersburg Open.
Last year, he won the Nakaru Open in Kenya. In March, he featured in the Fitlink Open in Belgium and lost in the second round.
There are two other Uganda men’s players – Paul Kadoma and Ian Rukunya – in Glasgow.
Kawooya, who will feature in both the individual and doubles events, admitted that they don’t stand a chance of winning any medals because of their lack of international exposure.
“But we will put up a strong challenge,” he promised.