End of long road for UCU Lady Canons captain

Najjuko is on her way back. PHOTO/JOHN BATANUDDE 

What you need to know:

Five months on, the Kibuli SS, basketball programme graduate can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel as she nears her return on the court.

In what was supposed to be a joyous off season in which she had led her side to her first championship.

UCU Lady Canons captain, Hajara Najjuko, found herself on the cruel end of sports as she suffered a significant knee injury while playing in Turkey.

She was representing Uganda Christian University at the 3×3 Fisu World University games that were held in Istanbul at the end of October.

Described as 'patella tendinitis'. This knee injury is a common occurence to athletes that frequently jump, volleyball and basketball in most cases.

The tissue connecting the kneecap to the shin bone(patellar tendon) is the most affected area.

Five months on, the Kibuli SS, basketball programme graduate can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel as she nears her return on the court.

She acknowledges how this period off the court has been challenging both mentally and physically.

"It's not been easy watching my teammates battle on court and not being there with them. It's even hard to watch them scrimmage" she says.

Her helpless expression when the Lady Canons lost in the final of the University Eastern African games to Victoria University in December was one of a few times her time off the court had gotten visibly frustrating.

There have also been positives taken from the rehabilitation as she says that she has been able to work on her physical strength, an ability she intends to use in the season.

Hajara also found herself more occupied with her class work, a balance she also struggled with, as basketball is a good outlet.

With her next evaluation on whether she can finally run on court this week weeks, all seems well with the captain as she nears gears up for a title defense.

The fact that she can play multiple positions came in handy during the playoffs as the record champions clawed back a 3-1 deficit to win the series in seven.

She averaged 5.3 points per game and 3.5 rebounds  last season and has already pointed out areas in her game she can improve on.

"I have to be the defensive stalwart on the team and affect the game on that end, rebounding has to get better as well,” she adds.

The start of the 2023 NBL season came too early in her bid to return to action as she has to take precaution on such injuries.

However she quickly pointed out how it is important for the team to integrate the 'rookies' and have a fast start to the campaign.

The champions have lost some big names after their title win last year with the likes of Akon Rose, Agatha Kamwadha and Maimuna Nabbosa who all graduated.

When she eventually eases her way back to the team, it will be interesting to see how long or if she is going to be on minutes-restriction.

National Basketball League

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UCU vs. Kampala University, 10am

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