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Netball ended the year on a high

By David Namunyala

Added 4th January 2018 04:03 PM

There was good news in December as Uganda was elevated to 7th place from 9th in world rankings.

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There was good news in December as Uganda was elevated to 7th place from 9th in world rankings.

If there is any local sports body delighted with the trend of events in 2017, it must be the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF).

This follows a number of achievements recorded such the lifting of the Africa Netball Championship crown and receiving the first ever She Cranes branded bus.

The team members got sh5m each from Members of Parliament after winning the continental title for the first time.

There was good news in December as Uganda was elevated to 7th place from 9th in world rankings.

“I have to confess that it was a year that will not be forgotten. Winning the Africa title was itself a milestone,” said UNF vice president for administration, William Bwambale.

“Getting the bus from Members of Parliament made us feel recognised by the nation.”

Africa champions

It was not by mistake nor a surprise, but because of determination, Uganda emerged as  Africa champions.

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 Despite facing difficulties such as training on tarmac in the parking yard at the Mandela National stadium, Namboole with no food, water and transport, She Cranes players still stood firm and won all their games at Lugogo to emerge champions.

The players exhibited professionalism at the six-day event, beating Zambia 67-50, Botswana 62-29, Malawi 66-43, Namibia 69-31 and Zimbabwe 61-45 at the biennial event.

Uganda completed the event with 10 points, two points ahead of Malawi while Zimbabwe settled for third position at 6.

Goal shooter Peace Proscovia, who plays professionally at Loughborough Lightning in England, teamed up with Hadijah Nakabuye, Florence Nanyonga, Lillian Ajio, Martha Soigi, Racheal Nanyonga, Stella Oyella, Stella Nanfuka, Desire Obua and Betty Kizza to win the crown.

Uganda became the first country to  win the continental event unbeaten.

Zambia, Botswana and Namibia finished in fourth, fifth and sixth positions respectively.

MPs offer bus and cash

MPs agreed to contribute sh500,000 each totalling to sh224m as a token of appreciation for team's performance at the Africa meet.

Half of the money was used to buy the She Cranes a second-hand bus to ease their transportation problems.

The balance was given to the players and officials for the success at Lugogo.

However, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga and the MP’s also proposed that government buys the She Cranes a brand new bus and also construct for them a standard netball arena in a bid to show gratitude to the Africa champions. She Cranes got the bus five months after the offer was made.

Best ever ranking

The She Cranes victory at the Africa meet has continued to reap fruits for the nation.

Uganda will end this year in 7th position on the International Netball Federation (INF) chart.

Uganda has climbed twice on the charts this year. They started the year in 13th position, moved to 9th place and now to 7th.

Australia, the world’s top ranked country, followed by New Zealand, England, Jamaica, South Africa and Malawi occupy the first six positions.

The performance also meant that Uganda maintains their place as the third best netball performing nation on the continent behind leaders South Africa and Malawi.

However, Uganda could lose their position if they do not participate in a number of international friendlies and tournaments that according to Bwambale, will need a lot of financing starting next year.

Maiden appearance

Ahead of the 2018 season, the African champions will need to prepare better than ever before to make it past the preliminary stage at the Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.

Uganda will make their first appearance at the prestigious show.

The victory at the Africa meet booked Uganda an automatic entry into the Commonwealth Games.

Uganda will be up against teams from New Zealand, England, Malawi, Wales and Scotland in pool B.

Pool A has Australia, Jamaica, South Africa, Barbados, Fiji and North Ireland.

Prisons win regional crown

Prisons edged arch rivals NIC in the final to win the East and Central Club Championship. The champions won the closely contested final in Nairobi 46-45.

NIC reclaim league title

NIC reclaimed the national netball league crown.

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