Flicks tension lifts Independence tourney

Good return. Namuleme in a previous league game. She saved 13 penalty strokes but her efforts were not enough to hand KHC Swans the Independence Cup. PHOTO/ISMAIL KEZAALA

What you need to know:

Wananchi needed sudden death glory to win both men and women's cups off Weatherhead (6-5) and Kampala (3-2) respectively.


All is well that ends well. Even though none of eight teams could buy a goal in six knockout games, the Independence Cup that Uganda Hockey Association (UHA) decided to move to Ntare School in Mbarara from Lugogo over the weekend ended up living up to hype.

Initially this sounded like a move in which UHA were biting more than they could chew but their insistence, even though the venue of the tournament was communicated in late August, paid off.

On average, each player - most of them school going - needed at least Shs100,000 of what could have done as pocket money for public transport and accommodation. Plus more for meals.

Some pulled out but most made it.

And when the action started on a sunny Saturday morning, the cheering students from the host school gave the action on pitch life but a rainy afternoon forced a suspension of games till Sunday.

The school-based sides showed mastery of playing on grass and red dirt so much so that even though they came up against more experienced players from clubs, who are accustomed to competing on astro-turf, they held their own and displayed good mastery of basic skills.

"The schools say teams like Kakungulu Memorial are advantaged in schools' competition because they have players who gain experience from playing in the national league at Lugogo, so bringing tournaments like these here helps other schools get an idea of what makes Kakungulu students tick," Richard Ssemwogerere, the tournament director, said.

Spot flicks galore

The club sides; Kampala, Weatherhead, Deliverance Church of Uganda (DCU) and Makerere University had players that struggled to adapt and perhaps that is why they could hardly find goals when they met in both group and knockout stages, late on Sunday afternoon.

All four semi-finals for the men and women were settled through tense shootouts. Weatherhead and Wananchi eliminated Kampala and Makerere in the men's semis.

Wananchi took out Makerere women too. But Melissa Namuleme, eventually named tournament most valuable player on her return to the game after over a year of nursing an injury, had to save 10 spot flicks as Kampala edged DCU 3-1 in the other women's semi.

Take nothing away from Namuleme's flexibility to kick, block and use her stick to good effect but the female takers could have done better as their efforts lacked precision and power.

Wananchi needed sudden death glory to win both men and women's cups off Weatherhead (6-5) and Kampala (3-2) respectively.

Ntare coached by James Mugisha and St. Charles Lwanga SSS - Bukerere coached by Stewart Kavuma, were awarded as best boys' and girls' schools respectively for accumulating the most points in the group stages.

Hockey Independence Cup

Champions

W: Wananchi

M: Wananchi

G: St. Charles Lwanga SSS, Bukerere

B: Ntare School, Mbarara

MVPs

W: Melissa Namuleme (Kampala)

M: Ashiraf Tumwesigye (Weatherhead)

G: Jemeo Nabagereka (Bukerere)

B: Passy-Pike Atuhaire (Ntare)

Top Scorers

W: Doreen Mbabazi (Wananchi)

M: Jerome Owori (Wananchi)

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