Uganda finds balance for boys, girls fight on

Most sporting activities in Uganda are male-dominated. PHOTO/ISMAIL KEZAALA

What you need to know:

  • “There is great balance in all age groups but their performance entirely depends on what other countries do,” team manager Joseph Kabogoza said.

Uganda’s perennial problem of not having enough girls in the top age groups continues to bite as the country prepares to host the sixth Cana Zone III Championships at Kampala International School of Uganda (Kisu) - Bukoto starting tomorrow. Team manager Joseph Kabogoza has fielded two teams as the host country is allowed to but Team B’s points will not count to Team A’s.

The rules of the game only allow a country to field two swimmers per race so the only way to cater for the over 90 swimmers that hit qualification times for the regional event during the November 26-28 Uganda Swimming Federation (USF) National Championships at Greenhill Academy was to field two independent teams.

Team A has only Esther Atoo in the 17 and over girls’ age group but fortunately, the relays are broken into just two age groups; 14 and under plus 15 and over so she will get the necessary support. 

Swagia Mubiru, Freda Luzinda and Sophia Nagayi headline the 15 and over age group alongside the 2019 captain Karla Mugisha as Kirabo Namutebi is away in Russia preparing for the World Championships in Abu Dhabi, where she will swim with Avice Meya whose presence would have worked for the senior girls.

National rivalry
The pressure to make points is now in the 13-14 years age group where Tara Kisawuzi and Karimah Katemba have to turn their Nationals rivalry into a working double-act supported by Martina Antisha and Michelle Sine.

This is the age group that could have done with numbers but Gabrielle Sine was only good for Team B where she will swim with the Mombasa-based trio - Amelia Mudanye, Natalie Lutalo and Inell Raya Ba - that has just turned 13 so is not expected to dominate such an age group.

Rahma Kalungi is expected to dominate the 12 and under age group but will need Atia Tendo, Paloma Kirabo, Sonia Mwere, Aleena Katemba and Makayla Kabugo to rack up points too. Uganda had 10 year olds like Abigail Mwagale, Paula Nabukeera and Zara Mbanga that could make the Team A times but decided to let them bide their time.

Balanced team
This leaves the boys with their work cut out to bring the Zone III title home after six years.

“There is great balance in all age groups but their performance entirely depends on what other countries do,” Kabogoza said.

Adnan Kabuye will miss the Abu Dhabi-bound Mukalazi in the 17 and over age group but is surrounded by the very capable Ben Kaganda, Mikka Kigundu, Samora Lumonya and Ampaire Namanya whose brother Ariyo Ahumuza will swim for Team B as he waits to make his impact in water polo on Sunday.

It is not even easy to make out which of the 13-14 and 15-16 years age group has the stellar line up. The former has Mathew Mwase, Kaumi Pendo, Kigundu Tyaba, Ian Aziku and Akram Lubega while the latter boast of John Kafumbe, Shane Birungi, Arthur Tayebwa, Steve Magera, Paulsen Settumba and Joshua Lumonya.

The 12 and unders have Emaad Tumusiime, Arthur Mwase, David Sine, Benjamin Lutaaya and Heer Usadadiya as Peterson Inhensiko and Daniel Nuwagaba, who were Uganda’s youngest act in Nairobi 2019, have just turned 13.

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