Uganda Gazelles star tangled in transfer dispute

Babirye (L) was stellar at the Afrobasket. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

First, Babirye is on holiday and back home from the US where she studies and plays for Evangel University and wants to stay in shape by featuring for a local club until the end of her time here.

By the closure of the mid-season transfer window, Uganda Gazelles star Lydia Babirye appeared on the Miracle Ravens team list. She was only waiting for a Letter of Clearance from Fiba before fully completing her move to link up with her twin sister, Lillian Nakato Mbabazi.

That did not happen. And at the moment, Babirye, who represented Uganda for the first time at last year’s Fiba Women’s Afrobasket in Kigali, Rwanda, has been cleared to play for last season’s finalists, KIU Rangers.

How a player appearing on the Ravens’ team list moved to another team after the closure of the transfer window is what has raised questions in the basketball circles and left Ravens crying foul.

First, Babirye is on holiday and back home from the US where she studies and plays for Evangel University and wants to stay in shape by featuring for a local club until the end of her time here.

She is also among the Gazelles players scheduled to travel to Germany for a 10-day training camp in July. Her Gazelles’ teammate Jane Asinde is also set to play for JKL Lady Dolphins after completing her transfer before the deadline to return to a club she played for before her switch to study and play in the US.


On Sunday, Fuba released a statement regarding Babirye’s status, and noted that the player had received special consideration to move from one roster to another after the transfer deadline.

“When Lydia came back for holiday, Miracle Ravens expressed interest in signing her for the remainder of the season. In fact, she was registered on the online system for Miracle before close of the 2nd transfer window but she wasn't cleared pending issuance of her Letter of clearance from the USA,” part of the statement reads.

“Before the process of acquiring a letter of clearance was concluded, the Management of Watoto, who are Lydia’s guardians, preferred the Athlete to play for a Team positioned in the top three of the National Basketball League because of her immediate engagement as soon as she goes back.

“The competitiveness and environment on top of the experienced coaching staff well known to Watoto would benefit her more. The KIU Management picked interest before management contacted the other teams. KIU Rangers Management after discussions with Watoto and the Player informed CC (Competitions Committee) about the situation of the player.

“CC discussed the issue and concluded that the transfer window had closed and therefore the player could not be transferred to KIU Rangers.”

With the transfer coming up after the transfer deadline day, the Competitions Council rejected it and that forced KIU Rangers to take the matter to the Fuba EXCOM, which sat on June 5, 2024 to discus and come out with a solution.

The meeting, which Arnold Katabi, the Fuba head of Marketing and Communication, and also the contact person at Miracle missed, concluded that the player should be allowed to play for KIU Rangers under special consideration.

Three reasons were cited; that the player was already registered in the FUBA system before closure of the transfer window, that she is a national team player scheduled to start training with the Gazelles and needed game time to stay fit and that the player should not be punished because of mistakes and delays on other parties involved.

The statement concluded that: “It should be noted that this was a special consideration done within the powers of Excom and in National interest.”

The development has left several team managers up in arms questioning Fuba’s decision to go against the rules in favour of the Rangers, whose top boss is federation president Nasser Sserunjogi.

Miracle head coach Katabi noted that: “There is no truth in the statement.”

It remains to be seen now whether Babirye will indeed go on to play for the Rangers as the season enters its business end.

If the dust settles and Babirye is allowed to play, she will be expected to be with the Rangers at least until the first round of the playoffs.