Ugandan Sports Maven Usher Komugisha Is Preparing To Spread Her Wings

After successfully commentating at the recent Basketball Africa League held in Kigali, award-winning sports journalist and analyst Usher Komughisha is dead set on pursuing a new challenge.

Most times, when we think of sports industry personalities, especially in Africa, the first name that springs to mind is usually that of a male. Women, however, are increasingly breaking barriers and taking up their rightful positions everywhere in society. And it's so inspiring to watch!

Usher Komugisha continues to defy the odds, and she is rising to become a household name in the sports industry in Africa. If you followed the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) competition that kicked off on May 16, 2021 in Kigali, Rwanda, then you definitely know who we are talking about. With great power, control and a unique voice, Usher commanded the attention of basketball lovers in the 215 countries it was broadcasted to.

Usher's bubbly personality, which shone through when I first contacted her telephonically, brought warmth, a sense of comfort and for a minute it felt like we'd been friends for eternity. Below, she fills us in on her sports career and (near) future plans...

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(Photo by Cyril Ndegeya/Xinhua via Getty Images)

Where To For African Basketball?

Maieane Nkhahle, a South African basketball enthusiast and former Universities All-Star and MVP, weighs in on the Basketball Africa League, and why the game of hoops still hasn't reached its full potential in Africa.

In January this year, an English Premier League (EPL) coach suggested that Premier League players be fast-tracked for vaccination, laying out several financial, economic, and social reasons for his proposal. The Twitter explosion of fury and indignation at privileged multimillionaires potentially jumping the queue ahead of frontline workers and other higher risk groups was expected. One commentator complained that authorities were seemingly bending over backwards to enable a bunch of overpaid prima donnas to chase and kick a ball around a big lawn. This is a common misconception that fails to appreciate the extensive economic value chains that culminate in a professional game of football or basketball. For context, consider that the EPL's contribution to the UK GDP approached $10 billion in 2020 numbers.

Enter Basketball On The Continent...

While basketball is the number two sport in many African countries, where popularity and participation are concerned, it lags far behind football in terms of the metrics that really matter. Basketball players who grew up in South Africa in the '90s will remember a time when anything seemed possible. We had a professional league that attracted the best talent from around the continent. There was a thriving and well-organised schools and university talent pipeline, packaged into exciting national and regional leagues and tournaments that fired up youthful imaginations. And there was significant interest that developed various commercial properties that had begun to generate value, and revenue, for stakeholders well beyond the immediate confines of the basketball arena. But even then, basketball's commercial and socioeconomic value proposition was decades behind South Africa's national pastimes of football, rugby, and cricket. Everyone believed that we were on an irrevocable upward trajectory. Being the fastest growing sport in the country and on the continent during that decade, it was just a matter of time before basketball would take its seat at the main table.

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