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UCU Lady Canons scale heights but women’s game remains in gutters

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UCU Lady Canons players celebrate after seeing off KCCA Leopard 4-2 in the

UCU Lady Canons players celebrate after seeing off KCCA Leopard 4-2 in the best-of-seven play-offs final series at Lugogo on Wednesday. Photo by Ismail Kezaala  

By ISMAIL DHAKABA KIGONGO

Posted  Saturday, December 14  2013 at  02:00

In Summary

It’s public knowledge that KCCA players have gone over a year without being paid yet this team is the closest anyone can get to UCU, who won all their 26 regular season game.

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Kampala- Such is the gulf between men’s and women’s basketball in Uganda that only a handful stayed to watch Game Six between UCU Lady Canons and KCCA Leopards on Wednesday night.
The Falcons-City Oilers game had served every fan’s gluttonous appetite. The emptying of the Lugogo MTN Arena is nothing new. Women’s basketball just doesn’t cut it for many. And you cannot blame the Ugandan game. Across the world, ladies’ beach volleyball is one of few feminine versions that leave the men’s code in the shade consistently.

Not even the skimpy outfits in tennis help bring bigger following to Maria Sharapova vs Ana Ivanovic than Novak Djokovic vs Jo Wilfred Tsonga.The NBA almost makes you forget there is a WNBA in the US.

Diversions aside, women’s basketball here needs an urgent dressing. “This year we played under really bad circumstances, every game was like a training session,” KCCA Leopards’ Flavia Oketcho says.
It’s public knowledge that KCCA players have gone over a year without being paid yet this team is the closest anyone can get to UCU, who won all their 26 regular season game. Oketcho, club official Joy Olinga, national captain Vicky Nassolo and a host of people involved with the women’s game blame the funding gap as a major detriment.
UCU, who won their fourth title in the last six years, beating KCCA 84-61 for a 4-2 series result, are one of the better funded teams.

In fact, it’s even magnified by the fact that all titles since 2007 have been won by UCU and KCCA including contesting the last three finals.

You could say the same of the men’s game where Warriors and DMark Power whose duopoly was only broken last month but those face competition which UCU and KCCA don’t find, at least locally.
“I think we need to keep so many of the former players in the game as administrators or in technical positions,” Olinga notes.

“We need more girls in management and coaching even those who start as fans. Only involvement from more women will help the game as we plan to affiliate with Fuba.”
KCCA’s Linda Tamale and Miriam Hamala are good examples of outstanding players who left the game. While many don’t like to admit, girls are faced with a narrow choice when they leave high school. Into their mid-20s, some do get pregnant as they seek to start families and cannot play for too long. “You keep losing players when you need them but there is a lot of new entrants now,” Nassolo explains.

Amid all these dampeners, the national women’s basketball team and particularly KCCA at club level have done so well at Zone V with regular third place finishes.

“Young girls are coming into the game and we need to groom them but many from Nabisunsa, Mary Hill, Gayaza and Trinity College might still end up at UCU or KCCA,” A1 Challenge forward Nassolo adds.

“The scholarships at UCU and KCCA paying fees is a good thing but other clubs need money to do the same for young players to improve the competition.” When that happens, perhaps less people will walk out on women’s games and even those who stay and act oblivious can pay a little more attention to start with.

Fuba have always been blamed for not showing any love for the women’s game as they do with the men’s and such arguments do hold water, albeit volunteers never go the extra mile. For example, the women were never consulted when the basketball body opted to have their games played after the men’s for the convenience of live broadcasting.

Quietly, the women are whining and their cries don’t seem to yield remedies unless the recently formed Uganda Women’s Basketball Association (Uwba) achieves its goals quickly.

Former champs
2013 – UCU Lady Canons
2012 – KCCA Leopards
2011 – UCU
2010 – UCU
2009 – KCCA
2008 - UCU
2007 - KCCA
2006 - Lady Bucks
2005 – A1 Challenge
2004 – Lady Bucks
2003 – Makerere Sparks
2002 – Lady Bucks
2001 – Lady Bucks
2000 – Lady Bucks
1999 – Lady Bucks
1998 – Lady Bucks

editorial @ug.nationmedia.com