Uganda has been a netball playing country for more than three decades now, though it has not regularly featured at a bigger stage in a long time.
A prisons (yellow) and police (blue) battling for the ball at Namboole stadium
The She-Cranes Uganda’s netball team last appeared at a world cup tournament in Trinidad and Tobago in 1979 after its great performance in East Africa (CECAFA) and had a good Africa ranking. There have been a number of issues from lack of training facilities to lack of finances to poor administration, ill-preparation, political turmoil and to mention but the least.
But still, its woes never end; in 2013 it almost missed representing the country in a six nation tournament in Maputo, Malawi. The She Cranes had traveled for more than 400km for five days by road. Surprisingly, it won a bronze medal despite having missed some games due to the fact it had not secured enough funds in time for the trip.
In 2014, the team represented Uganda at the Africa cup netball tournament held in Botswana and swept all points; it emerged the winner but with partial allowances. Part of the allowances were received on the team’s arrival back home. The current 2014 African Netball Champions automatically sailed through to the world cup to be held in Sydney, Australia August 2015.
Lack of proper training facilities, kits, spiritual and financial support is killing the game.
There are only two outdoor pitches—at Namboole and Nakivubo stadium. The most famous, Nakivubo War Memorial stadium is currently under threat. Part of the stadium has been sold and sub-rented to the business fraternity in turn for shopping malls and car parks.
Similarly, the standard and quality of the game is also wanting and still far to be appreciated. Lack of funds has derailed the game’s and various clubs’ performance over the years. The national league is far from interesting, it looks like a mere training; teams arriving late, forfeiting matches, they are poorly organized and attended, matches beginning hours later than scheduled, individuals fending for themselves for the love of the sport.
“Being an African champion is probably one way the she-cranes will overcome the challenges it’s facing. By qualifying for the world cup and performing well there will be the best thing done for a lifetime”, says the team’s spokesperson, Wilberforce Mutete.