On the horizon, is a cold war that threatens to ‘eat up the Walls’ of Netball and it’s thus, achieved successes in Uganda. And in the very end of it all, it will leave the sporting discipline in tatters, The investigator Sport can sturdily warn.
Our source in-house to the Netball game boiling war intimates that it involves the Uganda Netball (UNF) President, the coaches (especially national team former and current), and the umpires.
The trigger of this war and its indexes are the double header Africa Netball Championships-The Pent series and the Africa Netball championships, both tournaments just concluded in Namibian Metropolitan, Windhoek a week ago, served such a very constructive upshot for not only the Netball She Cranes, but also the Netball family and the Country-Uganda at large.
Why the coaches? Then Kityo:
The coaching Job is the mother of everything here. Giving a brief recent history, In July 2015, Fred Mugerwa was fired from his role as the head coach of She Cranes under dubious circumstances. He had just coached and prepared the team to the Netball World Cup that was barely a month away at the time of his sacking.
Following a change of guard at the Uganda Netball Federation after the elections that ushered in Sarah Babirye Kityo as president in June this year, sweeping changes started taking place in the sport.
Upon her election Babirye made changes. One of them made known was the return of sacked Mugerwa to the national team fold as head coach for the next two years.
The veteran coach was presented to local sports media by the federation President who revealed that 18 people were shortlisted for the job but Mugerwa was most fitting among them all.
Mugerwa, according to Babirye was, with conviction, the very best candidate for the national team coaching Job. He was experienced, humble and of very good track record.
The veteran’s immediate task was therefore the Pent Series in Windhoek, Namibia as well as the Africa Netball Championship later on in the month which doubles as a 2023 Netball World Cup qualifier. Fine, his task was up-to-date winning Gold and Silver at the events and guiding the She Cranes to the netball World Cup.
However, the appointment of Mugerwa ignited a war of words as the former coaches Vincent Kiwanuka, Nelson Bogere, and Rashid Mubiru as well as Imelda Nyongesa were not happy with the decision as seen by way of their body languages and the ensuing words.
“It has been a game of just loyalties but there were better candidates to the job,” one of the shortlisted candidates, who preferred not to be mentioned immediately told this website then after the announcement. Vincent Kiwanuka, Nelson Bogere, Imelda Nyongesa and Hussein Kato and Martha Soigi had all expressed interest in the job.
Kiwanuka especially had not been treated with respect when he got his duties relieved without clear reasons highlighted despite a good show for the She Cranes at the Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England. He helped the She Cranes finish 7th overall at the 2019 Netball World Cup, the best placement for Uganda in the three appearances (1978, 2015 and 2019).
Why the President – Kityo? Again:
A fair share of members of the Netball fraternity are concerned about the netball federation President. The former youth representative for Central region, Hon. Sarah Babirye Kityo was elected in June this year as President of the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF).
She beat two other candidates; former She Cranes manager Joselyn Uchanda and Christine Nampijja last June. Babirye took over the UNF presidency from Suzan Anek who had been at the helm of the netball governing body since 2007 when she was first appointed the interim president by the National Council of Sports (NCS).
On the other hand, her coming in with her new executive was greeted with resistance from the outgoing executive. Babirye and Co had been scheduled to assume office in August just sixty days after the June 2021 election at a formal hand over. The ceremony was politicized and delayed as the out-going executive tried to play a ‘seek and hide’ game to make life hard for Kityo.
Truth be told, there were lockdown excuses in place, but these were never save for the fact that the out-going Susan Anek was not ready to voluntarily handover, actually when she said, “If it’s wanted immediately, they would have to convene an extraordinary assembly to allow that to happen,”.
The new team led by Kityo could not receive office in August as planned and at the same time, had issues getting information from the outgoing team. “They are rigid and we have no hope of a handover. We have been writing to them and have gotten no response,” Babirye said then.
She added; “There is a meeting on July 7 for presidents and secretary generals of the African body that governs netball. I thought that the outgoing president and secretary general would have briefed us before attending that first meeting.” She provided that life had stared on a hard not for her and newly elected executive.
Kityo would have loved to go into this Africa Netball body meeting with an element of knowledge on the status of the sport domestically and on the African continent but since the outgoing leadership group was playing hardball, the situation had become complicated.
The federation was required to send requests that would go into the order paper for the upcoming meeting but without communication with the outgoing team, Babirye was afraid they would be embarrassed.
“They would have told us so far that they have been doing this and that. That they have achieved this, our priories at the African level are these. We had agreed to do that, but the meeting is on July 7 and they aren’t willing to talk to us,” complained Babirye.
This current situation was born from the June 5 election that saw candidates that were allied with the outgoing executive lose out on the election.
The umpire Issue? Kityo Again and again:
UNF President remains at the fore front of things. The other day, when she, and other members of her executive welcomed the She Cranes in Entebbe from Pent and ANC championships, she sounded bitter on the umpire level in Namibia.
She said thus, “We need to train the Umpires, when we have umpires, we shall be with bargaining power at continental level.” With her words she insinuated that there are no umpires in the country. Our source noted that the umpire status quo in Uganda is because Kityo’s leadership has not given priority to empowering local umpires.
“She cannot say that there no umpires in Uganda. We have local competitions which are being umpired by nationals. How can she dare say we don’t have umpires?” our source questioned. The truth is, Kityo’s administration has, according to the source not done enough to empower Uganda’s umpires to the Africa and World levels.
In Netball, umpires have big responsibilities including conducting inspections and making rule decisions using clear communication skills. They are also responsible for ensuring the general health and safety of all the players with extra accountability to spectators who may be watching the game.
Just over last weekend, upon resumption of the main tier netball league, the poor umpire issue manifested. The Levels of Umpiring are of great concern especially focused on the local netball league performances and the way the men and women who blow the whistles execute their duties here.
Netball remains one of the best performing sporting disciplines for Uganda when they compete with other teams at international competitions. Okay, according to our source, everyone as mentioned above have their own issues.
Some have weaknesses yet others good deeds for the sport but what could be done now is all the parties to sit down and iron out their differences amicably lest they damage the sport of Netball that is today, one of the best performing sport in the country. Here at www.theinvestigatornews.co.ug, we shall keep our finger crossed.
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