Competing for trophies isn’t their thing. Theirs is much more than that. When they step onto the netball court, they are reaching out to communities. They are Makindye Weyonje Netball Club.
The team, comprising mainly mothers and school dropouts working with Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) as casual labourers, play netball to promote behavioural change toward sanitation and hygiene practices.
When they are not playing netball, you are likely to find them sweeping the city streets, landscaping and drainage maintenance.
“Women and girls ought to know their worth as well as discovering and use their talents to change the society. We want to sanitise our city and create jobs through sports,” Ali Mulyanyama, the Makindye Division mayor, told SCORE.
Mulyanyama, also the club chairperson, said Weyonje – loosely translates as ‘keep clean’– is a KCCA programme aimed at promoting cleanliness in the city.
The club has had to take in girls leaving secondary school of recent. The new recruits are entrusted with supervision and sensitisation of the members’ activities on the streets and beyond.
“These girls are ambassadors who promote the weyonje campaign,” Mulyanyama added.
Ronald Nakabaale, the club’s organising secretary, said the team is receiving positive responses from sponsors.
“Individuals and companies are ready to establish official partnership with us,” he said.
How they operate
Eddie Odyambo, the club’s publicity manager, credits the team Sacco for improving the players’ standards of living since it is compulsory to all the employees.
“All our players are members of the Sacco, which gives them a chance to improve their financial status,” he says.
For a team that was doing so much off-court, it was no surprise that Makindye Weyonje ended the 2019 season in relegation zone. But fate favours the virtuous – the netball league will not relegate any team as it increases the number of participants in the Super League.
Makindye Weyonje head coach Jesse Asiimwe trusts that they have got enough experience in the league and are ready to compete.
The club has recruited players from Buddo SS and St Noa Girls SS, including goal shooter Assinah Kabendella, wing attacker Sharon Achieng, and centre Emilly Lempachu from Buddo, and Shafuwa Nalwonga from St Noa Girls.
Four players from Weyonje were called up to the She Pearls squad that was to play the Youth Netball World Cup qualifiers. The She Pearls got a bye to the world cup after the qualifiers were cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Team captain Sharifa Namulodi, who joined from a local team last year, is happy with her decision.
“I was given a job in KCCA and through the club, I expect to better my skills and fulfill my dream of being a professional netballer,” she said.
Kadondi, who joined the cleaners from Luyanzi College, is now a student at Kampala University. Coupled with her call-up to the national team, she couldn’t be more grateful with Makindye Weyonje.
“I have gained exposure by playing for Makindye Weyonje in the national league and I think that is the reason I made it to the She Pearls squad,” Kadondi says.