PRESIDENT Yoweri Museveni has welcomed some of the most clamorous personalities in the world. He has met former US President Bill Clinton, George Bush II. He rubbed shoulders with Prince Charles before hosting, uganda tours Â wining and dining with her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2007.Then what was so special on Saturday? What was behind his spirited speech and the toast?
Speaking before unveiling the World Cup trophy at 11:00pm, Museveni said although the arrival of the trophy was a historic moment, the cup symbolised much more.
â€œThe most important issue here isnâ€™t the cup but what it symbolises to kids and all Ugandans,â€ Museveni told excited dignitaries that included FIFAâ€™s representative Hedi Hemal.
The others included FUFA boss Lawrence Mulindwa, Coca Colaâ€™s managing director Basil Gadzios and the head of Coca Colaâ€™s East and Central Africa business unit, Nathan Kalumbu.
The trophy arrived at Entebbe airport at 7:00pm on Saturday. \
The 18-carat solid-gold and malachite base trophy weighing 6.2kg had been flown from Kenya aboard a Coca-Cola-branded chartered plane.
Education and sports minister Namirembe Bitamazire welcomed it to a reception that paralysed the airport.
It then made its way to the VIP lounge en route to the State House, where Museveni joined in the celebration.
FIFA regulations allow only the African heads of state and winners to touch the coveted trophy.
Museveni hailed Coca Cola for sponsoring the trophy tour that has given Ugandans the rare opportunity to view the symbol of world football supremacy.
â€œThe trophy epitomises football efforts in the whole world. I used to play football, and itâ€™s very healthy. Itâ€™s a good lure to burn fat. The ball that is chased is a bait that makes you exercise. If you run without aiming at something, you do not run too much,â€ Museveni said.
He added that the trophy would motivate the youth towards striving for global success.
â€œOur youth will definitely be interested in associating with this football movement,â€ he stated.
â€œI am happy that South Africa were given the offer of hosting the World Cup We will use it to mobilise people into the sport.â€
Uganda was the sixth nation in East and Central Africa and the 37th in Africa to host the trophy on its 70-day tour across the continent.
The four-month tour, which started in Egypt on September 24 will end in Cape Town, South Africa on December 3.
The World Cup in perspective
FORGET the Olympics; no other sporting event captures the worldâ€™s imagination like the World Cup and its prestigious solid-gold trophy.
Ever since the first competition was held in Uruguay in 1930, the football tournament has continuously grown in both popularity and prestige.
For Ugandans, the trophyâ€™s arrival on Saturday night was a dream come true given the fact that for the last Â Uganda safarisÂ three decades, the countryâ€™s attempts at making an appearance at the world event and with it the priceless chance of holding the trophy, had been a heartbreak.
â€œI am proud of Coca Cola. When would this trophy have ever come here? I have not touched it but seeing it is good enough,â€ said Musa Kafeero, one of the thousands of lucky fans that thronged the Lugogo Cricket Oval on Sunday.
November 15 might have started as any other ordinary calendar date for most Ugandans, but it will remain far entrenched in the hearts of those that took souvenir photos with the trophy and viewed special 3-D movies showcasing memorable gorilla safaris Â moments of the World Cup.
â€œIt has certainly inspired me. It makes you feel like walking onto the pitch immediately and try to play your way to the tournament,â€ Uganda Cranes defender Simeon Masaba stated after a close view of the golden trophy.
The tournamentâ€™s prize money totals $355 million (about sh700b), more than $25 million for the winner alone.
Despite the billions invested, the main focus of the World Cup remains the same – the glistening golden trophy that attracted businessmen, lawyers and prominent government officials for two days.