She Cranes duo want to turn pro

Sunday April 04 2021

Big Strides: Irene Eyaru and Joan Nampungu were named best shooter and defender respectively at the just concluded Tri Nations Series in South Africa. PHOTOS/COURTESY

By Regina Nalujja

The Tri-Nations Netball Test Series that ended on Thursday in Cape Town, South Africa was largely meant to give Ugandan players a chance to compete for the first time in more than a year.

In addition, it was a ranking tournament that will contribute towards the She Cranes’ ambitions of making the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.

Irene Eyaru and Joan Nampungu used it for so much as the national team put up an outstanding fight to beat Namibia 3-0 and lose to the hosts by the same margin.

Now, Uganda expects to retain or improve her seventh world-best ranking once the International Netball Federation (INF) releases new standings.
Before then, Eyaru returns home with the best shooter plaque while Nampugu was named best defender. They both feel this should be a stepping stone for make the professional ranks.

Uganda have Peace Proscovia (Sunshine Coast Lightning, Australia) and Mary Nuba (Loughborough Lightning, England) playing in the paid ranks.
The path is clear – do well at the international stage like Proscovia at the 2015 World Cup or Nuba at the 2018 World University Games – and the call will come.

“There are clubs that have been watching me from day one and have been sending me messages before and after games, but I can’t say anything about them at the moment,” Eyaru, who 85% at the tournament, said.


“I need to work more on my shooting skills and fitness because those are key requirements for a good shooter.”

Meanwhile, counterpart Nampungu’s resistance and success in turning the ball over throughout the tournament didn’t go unnoticed.
Nampungu, who also plays basketball and handball, refused to discuss “her chicks before they hatch.”

Their careers on court have been conjoined since the international debut at the 2017 Youth Netball World Cup in Botswana while they were still students. 

Eyaru won the Most Valuable Player accolade then.
From then they have been invited on the She Cranes team but would earn little or no playing time with the senior players who took Uganda to the 2015 and 2019 World Cup available.

Eyaru is behind Proscovia, Nuba and Rachael Nanyonga in the pecking order.

Nampungu has been locked out by Lilian Ajio, Florence Nanyonga and Muhayimina Namuwaya in that position but was picked for the 2019 World Cup.

They will have another opportunity to showcase their skills and talent at the Pent Series and Africa Cup in Namibia later this year.