KAMPALA- The current Covid-19 pandemic put paid to She Pearls preparations for the Youth World Cup Qualifiers that remain scheduled for May 10-21 in Uganda.
Despite the uncertainty of the event, She Pearls captain Shadiah ‘Mima’ Nassanga has continued with her personal training regime in anticipation of her debut cap.
“I still cherish the time I had with colleagues before training camp was called off. I hope the qualifiers will happen hence the reason why I am training in quarantine,” said the prolific shooter.
The 19-year old, in her Senior Six vacation, admires She Cranes captain Peace Proscovia, who plies her trade with Australia’s Sunshine Coast Lightning, and believes through hard work and persistence, she will make it, too.
“I watch Proscovia’s games on TV and, I admire what she does. I think one day I can be like her. I would like to find out from her how she makes things possible,” Nassanga told Daily Monitor.
Unlike Proscovia, who started out as a Primary Four pupil at Awidiri Primary School in Arua, Nassanga only started playing in Primary Seven.
Her towering physique got many well-wishers talking her into playing the game. But during her P.7 vacation in 2013, she finally gave in only because it was the only way she could earn a scholarship at Exodus College School.
“We are six at home and I used to see my single mum struggle to pay school fees. When Exodus’ coach Richard Ssentongo took me up under his tutelage I welcomed the idea because I wanted to study in one of the best secondary schools,” said Nassanga.
Ssentongo used to train girls at a local netball court in Namungona popularly known as ‘ku buyinja’ for being stony. He would later usher them to different schools and league teams. “I persuaded Nassanga into netball. It was tough to make her play in the beginning but she loved it in the end. She is fast and aggressive. She even used to cry whenever her team lost,” Ssentongo said about Nassanga.
Nassanga made it to Exodus in 2014 and she emerged the Best Shooter at the zonal games in Wakiso.
She helped the school to a triple silver-medal haul at National Netball Novice Championships (2015, 2016 and 2017).
Nassanga went on to claim the Best Shooter’s accolade at the 2017 National Netball Rally Championships held at Blessed Sacrament SS Kimanya.
In 2018, coach Ssentongo left Exodus College for St Mary’s Kitende. As part of the deal, Sentongo had to see that Nassanga also switches schools. To Nassanga, following her coach and playing for a school which not only offers golden deals to players but also emerges the best in most competitions, was a dream come true.
“I did not hesitate going to Kitende because it is the best school in Uganda when it comes to netball. I also dreamt of winning gold in one of the schools competitions that had not happened while at Exodus,” Nassanga says.
With Nassanga in her final year, Kitende won the 2019 netball trophy at Feassa Games that were held in Arusha, Tanzania.
“I was so happy because this was my final secondary school year and I managed to win gold,” she said.
At club level
Nassanga joined KCCA in 2016 while in Senior Three at Exodus College. The club was under former She Cranes coach Vincent Kiwanuka. Though they have not won any major trophy, Nassanga is happy that the club has shown some improvement.
KCCA emerged second at the 2019 East African Netball Club championships - their best-ever position. KCCA also finished second in the league.