Covid takes the steam out of hockey league

Saturday June 19 2021

Under pressure. KHC Swans defender Pamela Agaba and her teammates cannot afford another loss. PHOTO | ISMAIL KEZAALA

By Makhtum Muziransa

The National Hockey League (NHL) was in full flight until the recent presidential directive to close schools in the face of the destructive second wave of Covid-19.

Sport was given the green light to go ahead with no fans but also with full compliance of the standard operating procedures like social distancing, regular testing and wearing masks.

However, hockey is a sport built on the bedrock of schools. The suspension of the school term meant that Makerere University (Mak) Stingers and Makerere University Business School (Mubs) had to ask for the postponement of their games until they reopen.

Last Sunday, Weatherhead Vikings – comprised of mostly former students of St Mary’s College, Kisubi – did not even bother to turn up for their game with Kampala Hockey Club (KHC) Stallions.

Their club insisted the Vikings had been stopped from turning up by their parents, who fear that they will be exposed to the virus.

KHC, who were chasing goals to reduce on the 21 goal difference advantage between them and leaders Wananchi, were not convinced with the explanation as some players feel the opponents kept away to sway the goal difference advantage in Weatherhead men’s favour.


‘Not enough’
KHC were awarded only a 5-0 win (for a walk over) against a side that was conceding 9.6 goals per game on average and one that Wananchi and Weatherhead beat 14-0 and 18-0, respectively.

Ironically, the five goals awarded just reduces KHC’s scoring average per game from 5.9 to 5.7, while the result also saved Vikings, whose average concession effectively has now dropped to 8.8 goals per game, from potentially dropping to bottom of the table below Mubs. 

One KHC player could not understand how the Weatherhead management that called for the postponement of Vikings’ ‘club derby’ with Weatherhead Historicals on grounds that there were fears that members of the latter’s team had been in contact with people who had tested positive for the virus “could not do the same last weekend over another Covid-19 worry.”

‘Playing the table’
We will never know if Vikings ‘played’ the table, as they cannot turn up for the next two weekends. The two university sides they would have played had already called off their games.

What we are sure of, instead, is that this discussion will dominate today’s games as the Stallions are not in action.
Their rivals Wananchi and Weatherhead play their games in hand with Rockets and City Lions respectively. 

And, going by the records, the two title challengers should be sure of not only catching up on points with KHC but also extending their goal differences.
Both sides are tied on 15 points with +50 goal difference while KHC have 18 points in seven games with a +35.

Meanwhile, KHC Swans and Deliverance Church of Uganda (DCU) lock horns as they conclude their round one fixtures in the women’s league.

DCU will be buoyed by their 1-0 Martyrs’ Day win over Weatherhead while KHC have a task to bounce from a title ambition-deflating 4-0 loss to Wananchi a fortnight ago.