20 Most Popular Sports in Uganda: Ultimate Rating

From passionate football fans to rising rugby stars, sports are beating in the hearts of Ugandans. Ask any Ugandan about their beloved sports, and you’re sure to hear about classics like football, cricket, and athletics. But Uganda’s sporting identity also includes up-and-comers like rugby, netball, and basketball. Whether tuning into English Premier League matches or hitting dusty fields for casual games, Ugandans actively engage in various exhilarating sports. As we explore the nation’s most popular pastimes – from football played in remote villages to competitive athletics on the global stage – we’ll uncover how sports shape and energize all levels of Ugandan society. Get ready to dive into the sports firing up this sports-crazed country.

Soccer (Football)

Football, known locally as soccer, is unequivocally the most popular sport in Uganda. Ugandans’ passion for football runs deep, with an estimated 500,000 active players in the country. The top-tier Uganda Premier League, founded in 1968, features fiercely competitive matches between 16 clubs that attract significant audiences. The national team, affectionately called the Cranes, has achieved regional success and is controlled by the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (FUFA).

Soccer (Football) in Uganda

Football pulses through all levels of Ugandan society, from professional leagues watched by thousands to informal pickup games played on dusty fields in remote villages. Wherever you travel across Uganda, you’re sure to see young kids kicking makeshift balls, fans crowding around TVs for English Premier League matches, and competitive amateur club teams facing off in local derbies. The Cranes’ recent strong showings have lifted the profile of Ugandan football both domestically and abroad, sparking hope that the country can qualify for the World Cup in the coming years. For many Ugandans, football provides more than just entertainment – it facilitates community, inspires young talent, and unites this sports-mad country around a shared passion.


Rugby has a long-established presence in Uganda dating back to the late 1950s. The sport is directed at the national level by the Uganda Rugby Union (URU), which oversees the game’s development across the country. The Uganda national team, nicknamed the Rugby Cranes, represents Uganda in international competitions like the Africa Cup and intense rivalry matches against neighboring Kenya in the Elgon Cup.

Rugby in Uganda

Though Uganda has yet to qualify for the prestigious Rugby World Cup, the country’s top players command respect across Africa, and Uganda is currently ranked 43rd globally by World Rugby. With a total registered playing population of around 22,000, rugby continues to gain popularity thanks to grassroots growth and URU initiatives. From scrappy youth pickup games to tense Uganda Premier League contests at the Legends Rugby Grounds, rugby offers exciting athleticism and physicality that appeals to Ugandan fans and athletes alike. As the Rugby Cranes become more experienced against top-flight international competition, rugby’s foothold in this sports-loving country will only grow.


Basketball has steadily grown in popularity and participation across Uganda in recent decades. The sport is governed by the Federation of Uganda Basketball Associations (FUBA), which oversees the top-tier National Basketball League (NBL) established in 1995. The NBL consists of 12 intensely competitive men’s teams, with the dominant City Oilers securing 8 total championships so far.

At the national team level, the Uganda Silverbacks have raised the profile of Ugandan basketball since their international debut at the 2015 FIBA Africa Championship. Uganda has focused on developing youth talent with lower division leagues and a dedicated under-19 women’s national squad. Though still trailing other sports like football and rugby in fan interest, basketball offers Ugandan youth accessible courts and pickup games across the country. As more young stars rise through the local club ranks to represent the Silverbacks, basketball’s growth trajectory mirrors the raw talent and passion found on Ugandan courts and in the stands.


Netball has carved out a passionate niche in Uganda’s bustling sports scene. The national team, nicknamed the She-Cranes, currently ranks 6th globally and has competed in multiple World Cups and Commonwealth Games over the years. The Uganda Netball Premier League features a competitive women’s division of 12 clubs alongside a growing men’s league.

However, recent turmoil has threatened the sport’s momentum. In October 2022, the National Council of Sports suddenly revoked the Uganda Netball Federation’s (UNF) license, throwing competitions into limbo. The She-Cranes also withdrew from the African Championships amidst difficulties mobilizing the team post-federation dissolution. Off the court, UNF’s former president was charged with fraud over missing funds.

Yet netball still captivates athletes and fans in Uganda. The country has committed to constructing international-caliber courts with special sprung floors to enable hosting major tournaments. As rising stars like Mary Cholhok shine on the global stage, netball’s community roots run deep, with passionate matches happening in neighborhoods countrywide. If netball’s organizational issues can be resolved, the She-Cranes seem poised to continue ascending the rankings.


Volleyball has a passionate following in sports-mad Uganda. The Uganda Volleyball Federation (UVF) governs all levels of the game as a member of top international organizations like the FIVB. Uganda fields competitive men’s and women’s national teams that strive to qualify for the prestigious World Championships.

Domestically, the top-tier Uganda National League A features intense matches between the country’s top clubs. The UVF organizes competitions and provides statistics, news, and information to fans via its official app. Volleyball pulses through Uganda’s tight-knit sports community, from crowded neighborhood pickup games to tense national team showdowns at the Africa Nations Championships.

With experienced leaders like former Federation President Hadija Namanda shepherding the sport, Uganda seems poised to continue developing talented players and teams. Young stars are emerging left and right like the women’s national team members called up by coach Joan Lakony this past February. If this grassroots momentum persists on the club level, the future looks bright for Ugandan volleyball on the global stage.


Cricket has a passionate niche following in Uganda, dating back over a century. The national men’s team, nicknamed the Cricket Cranes, has played internationally since 1914 and regularly competes in matches across Africa. The Uganda women’s team continues to grow as well, currently ranked 13th globally in T20 contests.

The Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) governs all facets of the sport as an ICC associate member. The UCA oversees the hugely popular 10-team Uganda Premier League, grassroots development initiatives nationwide, and the construction of new international-caliber grounds. Though Uganda is still working towards its first Cricket World Cup qualification, cricket captivates athletes and fans countrywide.

Matches happen anywhere from dusty fields in rural villages to the meticulously maintained pitches of the best cricket academies in Kampala. As more young Ugandan stars rise through the UCA’s robust training programs, the Cricket Cranes seem positioned to achieve major success in the coming years. With both deep roots and upward momentum, cricket is a quintessential Ugandan pastime.


Though still a nascent sport in Uganda relative to stalwarts like football and cricket, golf steadily attracts more participants and fans. Only around 20 courses dot the country, but stunning options like the par-72 Kampala Golf Course and Jinja Golf Club’s scenic vistas along the Nile River entice players. The non-profit Uganda Golf Union oversees the development of the sport under guidance from the international R&A organization.

Recent initiatives aim to bolster grassroots growth and access, including a special junior golf academy providing free coaching and equipment to disadvantaged youth. Top Ugandan teaching pro Roger Sali acts as a global ambassador, partnering with charities to showcase his homeland as an underrated golf destination. From local pros mentoring young talent to veterans teeing off at the Uganda Ladies Open, golf builds community and drives tourism in Uganda. With increased investment and promotion, more hidden gems are sure to emerge across the Ugandan sports landscape.

Motor Sports

Motorsports pulse with horsepower and adrenaline across Uganda. The Federation of Motorsport Clubs of Uganda (FMU) acts as the national governing body under the international FIA, organizing events like rallies, autocross, and motocross. With descriptors like “the fastest growing discipline in Uganda,” motorsports captivate thousands of passionate fans.

YouTube channels showcase Uganda’s most daring drivers, from precision maneuvers in the National Autocross Championship to daredevils speeding through the rugged African Rally. Top competitors like Ronald Ssebuguzi, Charles Muhangi, and Riyaz Kurji have become national celebrities. Off the courses, fans gather at roadside cafes to hotly debate controversies and triumphs from the weekend’s events. From tricked-out vehicles careening around hairpin turns to the unmistakable roar of engines, motorsports provide a thrilling, dynamic component within Uganda’s sports landscape.


With icons like Olympic gold medalists John Akii-Bua and Stephen Kiprotich, Uganda has a storied history in athletics. The Uganda Athletics Federation (UAF) acts as the national governing body, overseeing track and field, cross country, and road running events countrywide. Uganda excels particularly in middle and long-distance disciplines.

Stars like Joshua Cheptegei, who holds world records in both the 5,000m and 10,000m, lead a new generation of elite Ugandan runners. Cheptegei and others consistently place highly at prestigious global meets like the World Athletics Championships. Beyond the professional level, passionate amateur runners from across Uganda compete in grueling road races and cross-country events organized by the UAF. Ugandan fans flock to these races, lining streets and courses to vocally support their homegrown heroes. From sleepy villages to the national stadium in Kampala, athletics captivates athletes and audiences alike with displays of determination and human ability.


Though tennis trails sports like football and athletics in popularity across Uganda, the game steadily attracts more enthusiasm from fans and athletes. Initiatives by the Uganda Tennis Association (UTA) and grassroots groups aim to further grow tennis at all levels.

The UTA oversees Uganda’s tight-knit tennis community from its Kampala headquarters, organizing competitive events like the Uganda National Tennis Championship for the nation’s top players. On a local level, organizations like Tennis for All Uganda facilitate access and instruction for disadvantaged youth. Uganda’s passionate fan base loyally supports rising young stars who compete abroad while also gathering at neighborhood courts to play in lively pickup games.

From the red clay courts of the Kampala Club to makeshift grass courts carved out in rural villages, tennis continues to find its footing in Uganda’s dynamic sports culture. Though still small, Uganda’s tennis scene pulses with growth potential as more citizens discover the sport’s athleticism, fun, and health benefits.


With giants like John “The Beast” Mugabi and Kassim “The Dream” Ouma, Uganda boasts an illustrious boxing history that continues to captivate fans today. The pulse-pounding excitement of the sport draws crowds of up to 50,000 enthusiastic spectators. Fans gather around crackling radios or pack into crowded viewing halls to hear blow-by-blow commentaries of the latest bouts.

The Uganda Boxing Federation oversees competitions nationwide, from small-town amateur tournaments to professional title fights. Promising young talent gets spotted at the grassroots level, with prospects funneling into well-run academies. Here, the next generation of Ugandan boxing heroes, like fearless upstart Zebra Ssenyange Mulungi, hone their skills toward future glory. From local neighborhoods to the international stage, boxing holds an esteemed place in Ugandan sports culture. The country has proven its ability to mold truly world-class fighters.


The surge in the popularity of baseball in Uganda is reflected in the increasing number of people actively participating in the sport and the formation of more teams. According to reports from both local and international sources, baseball is gradually establishing itself as a prominent athletic pursuit within the country. This growth can be attributed to a combination of factors, including grassroots initiatives, community engagement, and the efforts of organizations like the Uganda Little League team.

The Uganda Little League team, in particular, has played a pivotal role in propelling baseball into the spotlight. The team’s success and achievements have captured the public’s imagination, generating interest and enthusiasm for the sport. As a result, more young athletes are choosing baseball as their preferred game, and the sport is gaining recognition beyond the borders of Uganda.

One distinctive aspect of baseball’s ascent in Uganda is that it competes with soccer, a sport that typically dominates the African continent. Unlike many other African nations where soccer holds an unparalleled sway over the sporting landscape, Uganda presents a unique case where baseball is challenging the status quo and gaining ground. This shift underscores the evolving sports culture in Uganda and suggests that the country’s diverse sporting interests are expanding.

The Uganda Baseball and Softball Association (UBSA) serves as the sport’s governing body in the country, playing a crucial role in organizing events, fostering talent development, and ensuring that baseball maintains a structured and sustainable presence in Uganda. The association’s efforts have been instrumental in creating an environment conducive to the growth and flourishing of baseball at both the grassroots and competitive levels.

As the popularity of baseball continues to rise in Uganda, it opens up new opportunities for talent development, international collaborations, and the possibility of Ugandan athletes making a mark on the global baseball stage. With increased media coverage, support from governing bodies, and the active engagement of local communities, baseball in Uganda appears poised for a promising future, contributing to the country’s rich tapestry of sports.


Despite swimming clubs and facilities in Uganda, the sport faces notable challenges in gaining widespread popularity. Swimming is not considered a mainstream activity in Uganda, unlike soccer, rugby, basketball, athletics, and boxing, which enjoy more extensive participation and support.

One of the primary obstacles to the popularity of swimming in Uganda is the issue of accessibility. Unlike other sports requiring minimal equipment and infrastructure, swimming often necessitates access to pools and proper training facilities, which may not be widely available or easily accessible to the general population. This lack of accessibility can limit individuals’ exposure to the sport, hindering its growth and popularity.

Cultural perception also plays a role in shaping the popularity of sports in Uganda. Traditionally, sports like soccer and athletics have deep-rooted cultural significance and enjoy widespread community support. Swimming, however, may not have the same cultural resonance, making attracting widespread interest and participation more challenging.

While there are efforts to promote swimming in Uganda, such as the existence of swimming clubs and initiatives to teach people how to swim for safety reasons, these activities may not be enough to propel the sport into the mainstream. As reflected in media coverage and community engagement, the dominance of other sports in the public consciousness further contributes to the overshadowing of swimming in the Ugandan sports landscape.

To enhance the popularity of swimming in Uganda, there is a need for concerted efforts to address accessibility issues, raise awareness about the benefits of the sport, and foster a cultural appreciation for swimming. Community outreach programs, educational initiatives, and infrastructure development could play crucial roles in making swimming more accessible and appealing to a broader audience. As these challenges are addressed, there may be opportunities for swimming to grow in popularity and become a more integral part of Uganda’s sports culture.


The popularity of cycling in Uganda is not confined to specific regions; it has become a nationwide trend. In addition to the favorable terrain in Lira, where the flat landscape encourages cycling, other regions are also witnessing a surge in interest. Towns and cities across the country are experiencing a growing enthusiasm for cycling, with local communities organizing events and group rides to promote the sport.

One significant hub for this cycling movement is Kampala, where urban planners and advocates are working together to transform the city into a more cycling-friendly environment. Initiatives such as dedicated bike lanes, awareness campaigns, and bike-sharing programs are contributing to the integration of cycling into daily life. The goal is to promote cycling not only as a recreational activity but also as a practical and eco-friendly mode of transportation.

However, challenges persist, especially for women who may encounter cultural barriers and safety concerns. Efforts are being made to address these issues through awareness programs and community engagement, aiming to create an inclusive and safe environment for all cyclists. Despite these challenges, the popularity of cycling, including mountain biking, continues to grow, reflecting a shift in societal attitudes and an increased appreciation for the numerous benefits associated with this physically and environmentally beneficial activity.


Pool has entrenched itself as a trendy sport in Uganda, ranking second only to soccer in terms of widespread enthusiasm. The ubiquity of pool tables in small towns underscores the accessibility and popularity of the game, offering a recreational outlet for individuals of all ages. One of the factors contributing to its allure is its relative ease of learning compared to more complex sports like basketball, making it a favorite pastime for many.

The rich history and current vibrancy of pools in Uganda are evident in the growing craze for the sport. The national open pool championship, a premier event in the country’s pool calendar, has drawn massive crowds and set attendance records at the MTN Arena in Lugogo. This surge in interest points to the sport’s significant and expanding following, capturing the attention of both seasoned players and newcomers alike.

Individuals such as Bob Menani have played pivotal roles as founding figures in Uganda’s pool scene, contributing to the sport’s recognition and development. As the popularity of pool continues to rise, it not only stands as a competitive endeavor but also as a cultural phenomenon deeply embedded in the social fabric of Ugandan communities. The future of pool in Uganda appears promising, with the sport poised to maintain its status as a beloved and widely embraced recreational activity.


Sailing has found a niche as a popular recreational sport in Uganda, and its appeal is steadily gaining momentum. The presence of the Entebbe Sailing Club serves as a testament to the sport’s allure, providing a picturesque setting for sailing enthusiasts to indulge in their passion. The club not only offers a perfect getaway but also acts as a focal point for the sailing community, fostering camaraderie among those who share a love for wind-driven adventures on the water.

Despite being a lesser-known sport, sailing in Uganda has attracted participants not only from within the country but also from neighboring regions such as Kenya and Tanzania, as well as international enthusiasts from the United Kingdom. This international participation underlines the growing recognition of Uganda as a sailing destination in the broader East African context.

While sailing may not be as widely practiced as more mainstream sports, its dedicated following is evident in the enthusiasm of those who partake in its pleasures. As part of the recreational activities available in Uganda, sailing offers a unique and refreshing experience, drawing individuals who appreciate the serenity and excitement that come with harnessing the wind to navigate the country’s scenic waterways. With a steady rise in interest and participation, sailing looks poised to further carve out its place in Uganda’s vibrant sports and recreational landscape.

Table Tennis

In Uganda, table tennis may not claim the same spotlight as more prominent sports, but it has carved a niche for itself and is steadily gaining popularity among enthusiasts. The Uganda Table Tennis Association (UTTA) has played a pivotal role in promoting the sport, signaling a positive trajectory for its growth. An especially notable development is the UTTA’s strategic partnership with NBS Sport to broadcast the National League on television. This initiative not only amplifies the visibility of table tennis but also marks a significant leap forward for the sport in Uganda, reaching a broader audience and cultivating a larger fan base.

Table tennis, with its unique blend of skill, strength, and tactical play, has found favor among individuals seeking a dynamic and fast-paced sporting experience. While soccer, rugby, basketball, netball, and volleyball maintain their stronghold as the most popular sports in Uganda, table tennis is steadily earning its place, gaining both support and recognition. As the UTTA continues its efforts to elevate the profile of table tennis in the country, the sport is poised to attract even more enthusiasts, contributing to the diverse and vibrant sports landscape of Uganda.


Badminton is swiftly gaining traction in Uganda, with the country actively positioning itself to host international tournaments, indicating a burgeoning interest in the sport. The growth of badminton is palpable, with an increasing number of players and enthusiasts contributing to the sport’s popularity. The aspiration to host international events not only underscores Uganda’s commitment to badminton but also signals a desire to establish itself as a prominent destination for the sport on the global stage.

An encouraging trend in Uganda is the rise of para-badminton, showcasing the sport’s inclusivity. The number of para-badminton players has surged from one in 2013 to an impressive 100 in recent years. This growth not only signifies increased accessibility but also reflects the positive impact of initiatives aimed at promoting and developing para-badminton within the country.

Citations from various sources highlight the sport’s increasing visibility and acknowledgment within Uganda. As badminton continues to capture the imagination of the Ugandan population, both in mainstream and para categories, it contributes to the diversified sports landscape of the nation. The eagerness to host international tournaments and the growing para-badminton community underscore Uganda’s commitment to fostering a vibrant and inclusive badminton culture.


Chess has emerged as a cultural phenomenon in Uganda, experiencing a notable surge in popularity, particularly following the release of the Disney movie “The Queen of Katwe.” The film, which chronicles the inspiring journey of a young Ugandan chess prodigy, has served as a catalyst for a chess boom in the country. Since its debut in 2016, the impact has been tangible, with enrollment in the Ugandan Chess Federation doubling in recent months. The movie has not only elevated the profile of chess but has also inspired a new generation of players, contributing to the sport’s widespread appeal.

One significant development is the democratization of chess in Uganda, with the game extending its reach to children in rural communities. This inclusivity is crucial in fostering a broader interest in the sport, transcending geographical boundaries, and making chess more accessible to diverse demographics.

Chess’s popularity in Uganda is not merely a recent phenomenon; it has deep historical roots, with a legacy spanning over a thousand years. The current resurgence aligns with a broader global trend of chess gaining prominence as a strategic and intellectually stimulating activity. The sport’s enduring legacy in Uganda, coupled with the recent surge in interest, positions chess as a vibrant and integral part of the country’s cultural and sporting landscape.


Handball faces the challenge of not being among the most popular sports in Uganda, where soccer, rugby, basketball, athletics, boxing, and swimming dominate the sporting landscape. Despite this, efforts are being made to foster the development of handball in the country through initiatives like the Uganda Handball National League. This league serves as a crucial platform for aspiring handball players, providing them with a structured and competitive environment to enhance their skills and gain invaluable experience.

The Uganda Handball National League plays a pivotal role in raising awareness about handball as a legitimate and competitive sport in Uganda. While it may not enjoy the same level of attention as other sports, the league’s existence contributes to the gradual growth of handball within the country. Increased visibility through media coverage, potential sponsorships, and growing fan interest are essential components that could propel handball into the spotlight, providing the sport with the necessary momentum for expansion and wider acceptance.

While handball may not be at the forefront of Ugandan sports at the moment, the presence of initiatives like the national league signifies a commitment to its development. As the league gains traction, there is hope that handball will carve out its space in the diverse sports culture of Uganda, attracting more players, fans, and support in the process.


In conclusion, Uganda’s diverse and vibrant sports culture reflects the nation’s deep-rooted passion for athletic endeavors. From the thunderous cheers at football stadiums to the rhythmic strokes on the cricket pitch, Uganda embraces a wide array of sports that entertain and foster a sense of community and national pride. Football stands tall as the undisputed king, captivating the hearts of millions and serving as a unifying force across various regions. However, the rising popularity of sports like athletics, rugby, and boxing demonstrates the evolving landscape and the emergence of new heroes and heroines.

As Uganda continues to invest in sports infrastructure, development programs, and grassroots initiatives, the future appears promising for aspiring athletes and enthusiasts alike. The impact of sports extends beyond the playing fields, influencing societal values, promoting health and wellness, and offering avenues for social integration. In the grand tapestry of Ugandan sports, each discipline weaves its unique thread, contributing to a rich and dynamic narrative that transcends boundaries.

Ultimately, whether it’s the pulsating beats of a drum accompanying a football match or the hushed anticipation at a cricket ground, Uganda’s most popular sports encapsulate the nation’s resilience, diversity, and collective spirit. As the journey of sports in Uganda unfolds, it promises to be a captivating saga with the potential to inspire generations and carve indelible memories in the annals of the nation’s sporting history.


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