By Charles Mutebi
FLOWERS, candle-lit dinners, surprise gifts… or perhaps a card, a touching sms or an act of service like washing all her shoes. Women’s Day really leaves every man with no place to hide. We simply have no excuse to avoid celebrating the woman or women in our lives.
Ugandan sport has countless women to thank for its wellbeing and here at New Vision Sport, we see it only fit to recognise 10 women who have helped shape this sphere of our society through amazing feats and great personal sacrifice.
The only Ugandan woman to have ‘world champion’ next to her name. Inzikuru’s 3000m steeplechase gold at the World Athletics Championships in 2005 remains the greatest accomplishment by a Uganda sportswoman and the reason the Arua Gazelle will never fade.
Save for a Commonwealth Gold, which she won in 2006, life has been a bruising affair for Inzikuru since her Helsinki heights but legendary status is for life.
She gives rugby a good name, which is not a big deal until you consider the fact women’s rugby in Uganda can do with many more players. It really needs players made in Buteme’s fine material.
Buteme is credited with the start of women’s rugby in Uganda 11 years ago before going on to captain the Lady Cranes at the 2009 7s Rugby in Dubai, which remains the only senior World Cup where a Ugandan side has participated.
She is one of the pioneer women referees in Uganda who rose to the FIFA ranks. She handled many local and international matches until her retirement a few years ago.
As much a character as she is a champion. Peace Proscovia would be an intriguing person without any sports accomplishments.
She is 6ft4 or something that weird and she has a personality that makes being normal feel strange. Proscovia’s abnormality is best seen on the court, when she is either playing netball or basketball.
She is the best in both disciplines as we speak. Wow! Top of Proscovia’s long list of sports achievements is leading Uganda to netball gold at the All Africa Games in 2011.
A teen sensation with milk in her blood. Chess has been credited with Phiona Muteesi’s incredible story but don’t believe it. Muteesi’s life is a fairy tale and we all know those are made in heaven.
You can praise Muteesi for her great chess skills and the youngest ever African champion is certainly gifted but how many African children with special talents rise above their plight? Muteesi is simply a special child who happens to play chess in a special way.
If anyone had to be named mother of Ugandan sport, it would be Peninah Kabenge. In fact, for all of her accomplishments, as an active sportswoman or administrator, Kabenge is known to many as ‘Mama’.
She is simply responsible for hundreds of local sportswomen and men. Kabenge is currently the president of university sports body NUSFU.
She has been general of secretary of the Uganda Olympic Committee, pioneer of basketball body FUBA, and arguably Uganda’s greatest female basketball player of all-time…
She is the reason every Ugandan woman should have a car. And what makes Muwonge’s rally exploits remarkable is that she is a typical Ugandan woman.
Polite, courteous and self-effacing. Yet put her behind the wheel and she is burning up the tyres. Muwonge’s historic national championship in 2011, which is the first and only rally title by a Ugandan woman, did not validate her Super Lady nickname. That was true as soon as she took to rallying in 2005.
The individual nature of golf means the entire sport can rise or fall on the appeal - or lack thereof - of its best player. You can call it the Tiger Woods’ effect. Flavia Namakula has validated the veracity of that theory in the three years she’s reigned as Uganda’s top female golfer.
Her attractiveness on and off course has rubbed off women’s golf in the country as a whole even though she hasn’t really had much competition locally.
She is not just the most qualified female football coach in Uganda but simply one of the most qualified football coaches. Majida Nantanda is the embodiment of women’s football in Uganda. New Vision’s sister newspaper Bukedde run a story about Nantanda with the title “Omukazi atendeka omupiira okukira abasajja”.
That was three years ago, since when the diligent Nantanda has added more layers to her qualifications. She is deservedly the national women’s team coach although women’s football in this country has never had anything more than a raw deal.
She represented Uganda at the 2012 London Olympics when she was just 15. Stephen Kiprotich barely nipped the limelight from Jamila Lunkuse it must be said.
Seriously, though, Lunkuse is a real swimmer as her seven gold and one silver at the CANA Zone 3 and 4 swimming championship in Zambia last year showed.
Lunkuse is still off the pace at the world meets but her best years are ahead of her.
She was the mastermind of the finest hour of national handball. Sheila Angozibwa was president of the handball federation when Railways women’s club won the Commonwealth Club Championships in 1995. It was a club event but Railways’ participation was a national cause and Angozibwa led from the front.
Angozibwa is in the first year of her second spell as handball president after holding the position for eight years in 1990s.
Before returning to the handball federation, Angozibwa spent four years leading the softball and baseball associations.
Who said women don’t like sport?