MJ in Kampala

KAMPALA, Oct 26, 2006 (AFP) - Retired US track phenomenon Michael Johnson on Thursday urged governments to invest in sporting activities so as to tap the windfall generated from lucrative sporting events, thus helping change behaviours in society.

Visiting a community-baseds AIDS project in the Ugandan capital Kampala, the 200m and 400m record holder said sports was among the most effective tool to push for behaviour change in the society, notably in impoverished African societies.

``Governments should invest in sports because they can be tools for social change. In our project, for example in Kenya, it has changed many lives of people,’’ he told reporters in Kampala, flanked by former French football captain Marcel Desailly.

``When you look at how much money is in sports, you come to realise how popular sports have become in the world. We need to use sports to have social change in the world,’’ he added in Uganda, an east African nation which recently shot to world fame after Dorcas Inzikulu became the first Ugandan woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

On Wednesday, the two sportsmen visited Mathare Youth Sports Association (MYSA) which was nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for its positive activities in one of the worst slums in the Kenyan capital.

Johnson and Desailly are visiting Africa to promote the activities of international Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, a London-based outfit that seeks to promote development through sports in the developing world.