KAMPALA. Frustrated She Cranes players were yesterday flagged off for the Netball World Cup due July 12-21 in Liverpool, England by First Lady Janet Kataaha Museveni, the State Minister for Education and Sports at the Nakasero State House.
The team that spent three months in training had missed daily allowances of Shs30, 000 for more than a month and were demanding their $8000(29.6m) World Cup allowance.
However the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF) and the National Council of Sports (NCS) had gone silent about this. The anxious-looking players had hoped the First Lady would hint about their payments during flag off, but she only encouraged them to work hard and perform well.
“Leave a mark where you are going, we pray for you and I trust our prayers won’t be in vain,” she said before handing the national flag to Lilian Ajio, the She Cranes vice-captain.
Federation president Susan Anek’s exclusive meeting with the minister concerning the She Cranes Sh2.1b budget funding also reportedly did not yield any fruit hence players remaining hopeless.
“It is not fair to us. We have families and we have not sent to them anything. We are travelling tomorrow at 4am, and we have limited time to send money to our families. If they do not pay us, we might also boycott the games once we reach in Liverpool,” players were heard complaining.
Forced to settle for less
The disgruntled players were called for a late evening meeting at Copper Chimney Hotel in Lugogo where they were talked into accepting the little money which the NCS and the federation had to offer.
For fear of being replaced and even being side-lined for subsequent competitions, the players settled for Shs5m, an amount that NCS General Secretary Dr. Bernard Ogwel confirmed. “We are going to use borrowed money to pay a small percentage of the players’ allowances as we wait for money next week,” Ogwel said.
How it started
A day to the flag off, during a players’ meeting, the federation president Anek promised that allowances would be wired to the players’ accounts the following day before 11am. This led to speculation that the team would boycott the flag off although the players later appeared at Lugogo, dressed casually, a sign that they were not ready to attend the flag off.
After various talks involving federation elders, the players accepted to put on their suits and were driven to state house.
There was excitement after the She Cranes achieved qualification leading to promises of a big portion on the sports budget.
The team’s budget worth Shs2.1b was expected to be realized from government/ NCS with UNF not expecting any further support from the corporate world or well-wishers.
According to the budget, the team had to spend Shs1.6b on friendly games which were later called off due to delayed funding. They spent only a week in residential camp rather than a month that had earlier been suggested.
Of that, UNF had to fly five ministry officials to the World Cup with tickets costing US$1, 500 (about Shs5.5m) which brings a total Shs28.5m. The rest was for accommodation, visa fees, allowances plus other logistics.
In the 2015 Netball World Cup held in Australia, the team reportedly received Shs540m out of a total of Shs1.8b it had requested from government. The team went short of basic needs including water and needed bailout for air tickets to return home.
Despite all the agony, they emerged eighth out of the 16 nations at the 2015 World Cup.
NETBALL WORLD CUP
GROUP D FIXTURES
July 12: Uganda vs. England
July 13: Uganda vs. Samoa
July 14: Uganda vs. Scotland
WORLD CUP BUDGET
Non Residential training - Shs43m
Residential Training - Shs304m
Training equipment - Shs8m
Team kits - Shs111m
Staff - Shs39m
Build up games - Shs1.6b
World Cup trip - Shs470m
Ministry officials - Shs142m