Female coach outcompeting men to beach soccer success
Posted Thursday, October 31 2013 at 00:00
Coaching Bishop Stuart, Catherine Karungi easily won the Pepsi Inter-University Beach championship last year.
Pepsi University Beach Soccer
Saturday, November 2 and Sunday November 3 at Lido Beach
Free for university students
2011: Multitech Business School
2012: Bishop Stuart University
She breathes beach soccer. You will not enjoy a conversation with Catherine Karungi if beach soccer ranks lowest on your list of interests.
Interestingly, Karungi has not been into the game for long. It’s barely two years since she got involved in the sport with Bishop Stuart University, Mbarara.
Last year, with hardly any knowledge about the game, Karungi put together a team that shocked everyone to win the Pepsi Inter-University Beach Soccer Championship. “When I heard that an inter-university beach soccer competition was in the pipeline, I got excited. I knew almost nothing about the game but I wanted to get involved,” said Karungi, the Bishop Stuart University sports tutor. She added: “I started by surfing the internet to read about the game and mobilized students to form a team.”
But with no beach in Mbarara, Karungi and her team had nowhere to train from. They had to improvise in preparation for the tournament. “All we did was look for an area with thick grass. This helped to improve players’ ball control and body resistance since moving on sand is almost similar to wading through thick grass,” said the 26-year-old.
Faced with teams that play regularly at the beach, not many expected Bishop Stuart to even record a single win in last year’s tournament. They were untouchable, though. In the final, they dispatched national league side St Lawrence University to claim the title.
Ahead of the tournament’s third edition at Lido Beach this weekend, Bishop Stuart and Karungi will be every other team’s biggest worry. “We are ready to defend our title,” Karungi said as Pepsi handed over a Shs75m package for the tournament to Uganda Beach Soccer Association (UBSA) at Lido last week.
Like last year, Karungi and her boys still have no proper training facility. Once in a while, they make use of the sand on the banks of River Rwizi but the little space there still can’t enable them move the ball around easily.
“We are now a better team,” Karungi, a Makerere University sports science graduate, said. “We know the rules of the game and have invested a lot in player fitness.”
Early this year, Karungi attended a coaching course and now has the credentials to handle any team.
But dealing with male players, she admits, sometimes gets challenging. “Men at times want to be authoritative,” she says, “But I always find a way of dealing with them. When their tempers are high, I make sure I try to calm them down.” “The only thing I hate about coaching is the pressure that comes with the job.”
This weekend, Karungi will be vying for her second title as a coach. But she must beat St Lawrence and Mubs, who are riding high in the national league. Karungi will be the only woman on the touchline .