Kampala. A jovial She Cranes team yesterday touched down at Entebbe International Airport aboard Emirates Airways before being hosted at the Nakasero State House for dinner.
Despite a draining week of World Cup action, they arrived with their heads high full of lessons learned as well as contacts from European teams all pointing to attaining professional careers.
Among the excited players was Stella Oyella, who had an outstanding performance. She clinched three Player of the Match accolades against Samoa, Scotland and Zimbabwe.
Oyella said that although, things did not go the way they wanted, they have a reason for happiness as they finished seventh, one place better than they attained at the previous World Cup. “It was not an easy journey but we tried. However we are happy that we have established contacts and are now waiting to be called back for professional stints,” said Oyella.
Meanwhile Mary Nuba, a World Cup debutant, also admitted that she learnt a lot. “We expected to perform better. But although we failed, we learnt new stuff, built our CVs and we shall do better in four year’s time,” Nuba said.
Nuba denied the talk that the She Cranes’ recurring injuries were partly to blame for not performing to their expectations.
“We were just unlucky. Injuries are unavoidable. Even players from other countries had injuries,” she added.
Coach Vincent Kiwanuka expressed joy about She Cranes moving a step ahead and is confident the team will maintain their sixth position in world rankings as their loss to Malawi, who are ranked ninth, is not enough to ascertain Uganda’s drop in rankings.
Stay in sixth place
“To lose our sixth position, Malawi will have to defeat us in more games. However we shall not allow that to happen,” Kiwanuka said. At the welcome dinner, the She Cranes were reportedly given Shs1m each by the First Lady Janet Museveni, who is also the Minister of Education and Sports.
She called upon players to sacrifice more amid the unfavourable conditions and lay ground for others who will come after them.
The First Lady advised them to stop looking at themselves among just the best in Africa but rather look at the global picture which will lift them higher. “I just think that perhaps it’s high time you stop being contented with the categorising yourselves among the best African teams. This will push you higher,” she said.
“As you continue to improver and do better, you will fly higher. We also know that you are working under difficult conditions and you are doing the best to represent us well.”
NETBALL WORLD CUP
Uganda 32-64 England
Uganda 52-43 Scotland
Uganda 69-48 Samoa
Uganda 57-54 T&T
Uganda 40-67 South Africa
Uganda 48-61 Jamaica
Uganda 44-55 Malawi
Uganda 58-47 Zimbabwe