There is no definite date set for when sports activities will resume in the country following the disruptions by the coronavirus pandemic.
That is even after the National Council of Sports (NCS) came up with Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to guide safe resumption of activity. But the senior national men’s cricket team - The Cricket Cranes have maintained virtual training sessions monitored digitally by new coach South African Laurence Mahatlane and his assistant Jackson Ogwang. Ogwang has even done it for a longer period by choreographing drills for a group of about 24 men since the lid was put on sports by President Yoweri Museveni on March 18.
“We are a national team and have to keep fit and mentally focused,” Ogwang told this paper in a recent chat.
This has continued even at a time when the International Cricket Council (ICC) postponed the second round of the World Cup Challenge League B that Uganda was due to host August 3-13.
The Africa T20 Cup in Nairobi, Kenya and the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Sub-Regional Qualifier earlier slated in Stellenbosch, South Africa, too, were not held due to travel restrictions.
“We remain in preparation. We haven’t received official communication on the T20s for sub-regionals and regionals. So it’s key that the players remain focused,” said UCA CEO Martin Ondeko. Much as it is now more than 100 days since sports events happened, Ogwang knows action could resume anytime soon.
“ICC can just put up a tournament any time from now if the airports open up or we can as well get invited for warm up games as soon as everything comes back to normal. “Plus, we have a league coming up so we expect the national team players to be ready for that.”
Sunday Monitor understands that ICC Associate Nations’ route to the 2022 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup could come as soon as October to December. “And to be honest I don’t think we are fit enough...working out without playing games or getting involved in real cricket practice doesn’t of course portray top fitness levels,” added Ogwang. During the lockdown, UCA have been supporting the Cricket Cranes with monthly stipends.
“We will continue to support the key groups of people,” said Ondeko. Mahatlane, still in South Africa because of travel restrictions, is already making early inroads with online interactions with the Cricket Cranes’ set-up. But it requires some mental strength for a player to train when the return of sport is uncertain.
“It’s taken some getting used to,” skipper Brian Masaba says, “It takes a lot of discipline to keep training even without much motivation.”
PLAYERS IN VIRTUAL TRAINING
Brian Masaba, Arnold Otwani, Roger Mukasa, Hamu Kayondo, Shahzad Kamal, Riazat Ali, Saud Islam, Bilal Hassun, Ronak Patel, Dinesh Nakrani, Kenneth Waiswa, Zephaniah Arinaitwe, Robinson Obuya, Steven Wabwose, Deus Muhumuza, Frank Akankwasa, Rogers Olipa, Cyrus Kakuru, Fred Achelam, Charles Waiswa, Kenneth Waiswa, Frank Nsubuga, Trevor Bukenya, Jonathan Ssebanja, Richard Agamire, Henry Ssenyondo, Jonathan Kizza, Calvin Watuwa and Gerald Mubiru