Kampala- Goal shooter Stella Oyella left NIC for Prisons Netball Club with dreams.
But after three years, she returns to NIC, the same club she thought was not giving her enough, with new dreams.
Oyella and shooting partner Hadija Nakabuye left NIC to join bitter rivals Prisons early 2016 and the pair has helped coach Imelda Nyongesa’s team to two league trophies and two East African Championship titles, beating NIC on both finals.
Her “untimely” departure is potentially a big blow, just months after Prisons lost dependable centre Halima Nakacwa, who disappeared after the She Cranes’ friendly tour of United Kingdom.
However, controversy surrounds this transfer with some claiming Oyella is still contracted with Prisons, though the player insists her two-year contract expired.
But it does not add up because if she was contracted for only two years since early 2016, under what terms did she play for them in yet another successful league campaign in 2018? “We don’t stop anyone from joining another club, but we are just hearing about Oyella’s departure from rumours since she ceased coming for training,” coach Nyongesa said.
“As a coach her departure is beyond my control, she is a Prisons officer and has to write to the head officer requesting for approval.”
Oyella insists she is disappointed in Prisons yet NIC’s offer is irresistible: a good pay and a job in the insurance company’s marketing department. “More so, NIC can help me fulfill my dream of playing professional abroad,” Oyella told us on phone. Just before Oyella left NIC, Peace Proscovia struck a lucrative deal to join Loughborough Lightning in the UK. This came with a scholarship for her master’s of Science in Marketing at Loughborough University. And on completion Proscovia joined Sunshine Coast Lightning in Australia.
Just recently, Mary Nuba, who learnt netball when Oyella was already a star, left NIC to replace Proscovia at Loughborough.
Such an upward career trajectory would be every netballer’s dream. But “Prisons don’t give you such opportunities…” Oyella concluded.
But Nalis Bigingo, the Prisons head of sports, said they do not block any player from going professional and Oyella, a matron [equivalent of a corporal] should instead be more appreciative “because we have improved her a lot both as a club and a national team player.”
Coach Nyongesa tries to downplay it, suggesting Prisons was doing well even before Oyella joined but Bigingo, a veteran sports administrator, regrets that her departure has caught Warders off-guard. “She is a great shooter and if she is leaving, it leaves us in need of an urgent replacement.”
OYELLA AT A GLANCE
Joined Prisons: 2016
Favourite position: Goal Shooter
Also plays: Goal Attacker
Strength: height, shooting accuracy
Career highlight: 2015 World Cup in Sydney
Also played: 2018 Commonwealth Games
Honours: 2018 Africa Netball Cup
Career goals: playing professional abroad