Uganda She Cranes: Taking Patriotism to Unprecedented Levels
Most national team sports, mostly male-dominated, have the benefit of being funded with resources to sustain their preparation and campaign in several competitions. The same cannot be said for the Uganda Netball team.
The current African Netball champions, also known as the She Cranes, made history as the first hosts to win the continental competition unbeaten during the Africa Netball Championships which were recently held in Kampala, Uganda.
The win also saw Uganda move up in the World rankings to 9th, the highest ranking the country has ever achieved since the list was first published on February 11, 2008. Only two African teams are ranked higher.
“It was also important that we got into the top 12 nations because many tournaments usually involve the top 12 teams,” She Cranes coach Vincent Kiwanuka said.
He also considered the achievement as a personal one and added, [perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I left the national team in 12th position after the World Cup and returned when it was 13th. So it gives me joy that we have made such strides.”[/perfectpullquote]
The ranking means the Uganda she cranes are eligible to participate in the 2018 Commonwealth games.
But these achievements have come at a high cost, not at the country’s expense, but through individual sacrifices, including overcoming obstacles that got in the way of what may have been deemed as a fairytale, only a while ago. The ladies have given patriotism a true definition.
Often, they have gone without meals and sometimes lacked uniforms. Ahead of the African Netball Championships, the team only managed to secure a meal and uniforms minutes into a friendly against Malawi.
Basic facilitation like allowances and transportation are all a far cry. On several occasions, players have been seen to hire motor cycles ‘boda-boda’ all the way from the airport to their final destinations.
The woes did not only begin this year. In 2013, the team had to move hundreds of miles by road to Malawi and ended up missing their opening game. But that did little to deter the team’s focus, eventually overcoming the exhaustion and time delay to scoop a bronze medal.
A year later, they were almost detained by a hotel in Gaborone for delayed payments during the World Cup qualifiers but they still fought on and emerged eventual winners.
The Uganda she cranes are undoubtedly a team of very talented players – with some also plying their trade in the basketball domestic league. Putting passion and duty ahead of all compromises, they have lifted Uganda’s flag on the international scene and only remain to be seen as a force to reckon with.
Featured Photo: New Vision