19 February 2010

UGANDA : Omony quits

By Charles Mutebi

STEVEN Omony has terminated his contract with the Mountain Dew Falcons due to unpaid wages amounting to sh42m.

The national basketball team star joined the six-time FUBA men’s club champions from Seychelles’ PLS Hawks last season on a two year deal that took the local game by storm. It was worth sh72m and left everyone in awe about the healthy state of local basketball.

However, there were doubts about how the club would be able to raise his annual wages of sh35m and now those fears have been justified. Omony revealed that he has only received sh8m for his bonuses, allowances, wages and housing over the course of the 2009 league campaign.

He says he should have received over sh50m.

Several meetings were held in the past months between the Falcons and Omony, with the player being constantly urged to hold on as the club searched for the funds.

Now, Omony says he has had enough.

“I have decided to terminate my contract with the Falcons,” he told a gathering of journalists at Holiday Express hotel in Kampala yesterday.

The 1998 & 99 FUBA men’s top-flight MVP explained that besides airing a personal grievance, he was being “a voice to many other (Ugandan) athletes who cannot speak for themselves”. The eloquent 30 year-old hopes his action “will motivate others to speak out”.

Omony said he had notified the club and his team-mates of his decision adding that he was “exploring all available means to recover his money” from the club. His legal team, sources say, are thrashing out a case.

Reacting to the news, Falcons publicist Dennis Mbidde said “he can’t walk out of the club when he is under contract”.

Mbidde added: “Omony has overstepped procedure. He should have at least written to us and given us a notice of litigation before going to the press.”

The publicist conceded that he did not know the exact amount the club owes Omony but said that the player was set to receive some payment when club sponsors Mountain Dew release their latest cash package.

The soft drink company signed a two-year sh70m deal with the club last season.

Omony led a Henry Malinga-less Falcons to the playoffs last season before losing to eventual champions Kyambogo Warriors in the semi-finals.

Eleven years earlier, he led the same club to their second championship, a year after leading them to their first.

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