Men’s netball relishes its firsts

Saturday September 18 2021
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Off at last. Men’s netball players train before their trip to South Africa last week. Photo | Ismail Kezaala

By Regina Nalujja

The national men’s netball team, The Rock have shown a lot of vigour and talent in their expedition. 

Save for losing to a more talented South African national team, The Rock have had overwhelming victories against other South African clubs as well as Kenya.

The Rock are participating at the first International Males Netball Championship in Pretoria, South Africa, on invitation of the organisers.

Heaps of criticisms and backlash is what men’s netball has been braving over the years. However, this does not mean that they are about to give up on their dream of making men’s netball globally accepted.

In the competition that was supposed to be graced by seven countries, only Kenya and Uganda joined the hosts. 
Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Swaziland and Pakistan did not take part due to Covid-19 restrictions as well as lack of funds.

The Rock are relishing  their firsts, including being officially flagged off, having a patron, team manager, going into residential camp for training, attracting more than one sponsor – things that had never been heard of before in men’s netball since 1992 when it was started.
Could this be a new dawn for men’s netball or is the new Uganda Netball Federation leadership simply on point?

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‘Stifled by women’
Dennis Mpoza a coach at Blue Star men’s netball and a former player at TLC club, possesses a great understanding of the game and has a wonderful relationship with many of the women players.

Mpoza said men’s netball has for long been stifled by women leaders, adding that it is the same challenge faced by men playing netball in other countries.

“Women, especially those in leadership positions, have been suffocating us. Some of them don’t want to see men’s netball developing as they fear that attention will move to the men,” he said.

“We thank our new leaders for supporting men’s netball and helping the men to take part in the competition.”

He believes this could be a new dawn for men’s netball and he looks forward to other international competitions, including the African Men’s Netball Championships due next year.

Ugandan men are now looking forward to playing against countries like Australia, New Zealand and England who started men’s netball earlier.
However, this cannot happen without financial support.

Prof Badru Kateregga, the team patron, said he chose to support the men’s team because their game is still new.
“The team needs more support. They are still new in the game and they need exposure,” he said during their flag-off.

The Kampala University proprietor, whose university side had the majority of the players, accommodated and fed the team for two weeks of residential training before buying them air tickets for the South African trip.

Team manager Sarah Nkonge has called for government support towards men’s netball.
“The government should look at this team as well and support it like it does the women because it is a good team and it can easily sell the country on the international stage,” she said.

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