Although the Uganda men’s team returned home with enhanced reputations after their triumph over hosts Kenya in March’s FIH (International Hockey Federation) Series, there was always a feeling they could have done even better.
Maybe the squad could have been more polished – even for the ladies who were whitewashed by a 22-0 aggregate score in three games.
Some players ‘declined’ carrying the weight of the jersey after a year of inaction as games were wiped out in 2020 due to Covid-19.
Others could not just make up the time as revised travel, education and work schedules collided with the Series. For some ladies, personal reasons left them indisposed.
Now the coaches are offering a clean slate to everyone as the National Hockey League (NHL), that pushes back this Saturday in Lugogo, offers players a chance to regain fitness and match experience ahead of the January 2022 Africa Cup in Ghana.
Identify new talent
“It is another opportunity to identify players we can add to the squad,” Hockey Cranes coach Vincent Kasasa, said.
“No one should think that after Nairobi, the national team is a closed shop.We are looking at output, performance and fitness. The squad will definitely change if we note outstanding players in the league.”
Hockey She Cranes coach Sandra Namusoke, has made it clear that she wants “a mindset shift with better attitude and discipline” from her players, who can be accused of surrendering in the Nairobi battle.
Meanwhile, Uganda Hockey Association (UHA) have come in to save clubs from the financial burden of testing players for Covid-19 ahead of this weekend’s opening fixtures.
The association, through its partners, has offered to foot the bill of testing 20 players from each of the 15 participating clubs in the 2021 NHL. The exercise will be carried out today at the hockey pitch in Lugogo.
“We understand the devastating impact the lockdown had on everyone and believe it’s in the best interest of the Association to find all ways of our members having their loads eased,” UHA general secretary Stanley Tamale told Daily Monitor.
On how players will survive through the four months league and if they will foot bills for subsequent tests, he added that; “We’ll strive to ensure we observe all standard operating procedures to combat the virus as we believe they are in place for our own safety.
Alongside testing, we’ll continually sanitize, encourage and enforce social distancing and also prohibit fans from the grounds.”