Having spent nearly a month in Uganda, ex-Barcelona trainee Rayco Garcia has seen enough to appreciate the passion for the game in the country.
He has traversed the various playing fields in the central areas of the country and watched a couple of league matches.
“I came to organize the Barcelona Legends match in December, but I believe more can be done to develop the talent in the country,” says the 29-year-old whose playing career was cut short by injury.
“To leave a legacy, we would have to develop an academy as my RG (Rayco Garcia) Foundation has done in Oman, Panama and Lebanon.
“I am now a young businessman with big expectations of the future. I have professional people supporting me such as Patrick Kluivert, Christian Karembeu, Luis Figo and Fabio Cannavaro,” adds the man who brought Kluivert to the country the other week.
“I believe football can change a country like Uganda in many ways. Through sport, you can give children an education and also can develop good ambassadors for the country.”
The Barca Legends match against Cranes in December is being supported by President Museveni and the Uganda Tourism Board. Museveni contributed �180,000 (Shs760m) with UTB adding �100,000 (Shs420m). More sponsors are expected on board.
UTB have embraced the impending visit sensing the plethora of opportunities that will go some way in unlocking the tourism potential of Uganda. Already Kluivert is going to have a gorilla named after him in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest.
“Through football,” says Amos Wekesa, the founder of Great Lakes Safaris, “a country can open itself to the world. And this visit of Barcelona greats is an ideal opportunity that the entire country must embrace to show the world what Uganda has been blessed with.”
Garcia, meanwhile, knows that the success of the RG Foundation in Uganda will have to pass the test of time. It will require deep financing, a meticulously chosen team, qualified coaches, land and patience. But he is ready for the long haul. “Of course I am not a Ugandan but I will require a team of dedicated Ugandans to see this dream come to fulfillment. Fortunately the Prime Minister has given us land and we have somewhere to start. Likewise part of the proceeds from the December game will be directed to the academy,” he noted.
Next week Garcia travels to Barcelona with a team of Ugandans to intensify preparations for the historical December match that is expected to arouse national interest given the calibre of ex-players involved.