Sharon Kirabo was part of the 12 players coach Nicholas Natuhereza summoned to represent Uganda at the 2021 FIBA Afrobasket Women Championship Zone Five Qualifiers in Rwanda.
The dream debut for Kirabo will however have to wait after FUBA withdrew Gazelles from the competition citing financial constraints.
Her story to scale the national team heights is a great story to tell, for a player who three seasons ago, was plying her trade in the second tier of Uganda Basketball League (women division) with UMU Ravens.
Intially Kirabo tried to kick the onion bug and helped her school qualify for the Nationals held in Masindi. “I also played Netball, and other field games like Short Put, Discus throw and Javelin,” she opens up to The-SportsNation.
She has been nutured by so many people while growing up sliently the Watoto Child Care Ministries. Earlier, she stayed with her mother Harriet Kiige who she calls “the greatest mom ever.”
She confesses that all was not rosy but her mother did everything in her own means to bring her up, together with her two brothers.
Born in Jinja, she is the second born in the family, coming between Suubi Samuel and Kukiriza Moses.
Kirabo, aged eight, and her family left Jinja and relocated to Mpigi after her Mother got a new job to serve at Watoto. There, she got another ‘family’ where she got other six brothers.
She studied at Watoto from Primary one to Senior Six; Hope Junior School Nakirebe (P.1 to P.7) , Hope Senior School (S.1 to S.6), getting 13 points for UACE.
Then she was handed a Sports Scholarship at Uganda Martyrs in Nkozi, attaining a Bachelors Degree of Arts with Education in Secondary. “I graduated on May 21 this year but the journey has not been an easy one.”
Scaling the Heights.
Kirabo was introduced to the game of hoops back in 2011 during her Senior One at Watoto thanks to inspiration from close friend Elizabeth Mukyala.
“She cam and explained that they are going to form a new school basketball team and I would easily fit in because of my good height.
Kirabo adds that Mukyala’s narrations made her feel that the game was easy.
She seamlessly fit into the team thanks to her netball background.
“I had another friend of mine called Pauline Nabatanzi, we grew up together, we were actually like Twins as we used to do everything together.
“We were in the same class, same House and all. We even played the same games including Netball and Volleyball and when a Basketball chance presented itself, we joined together.”
Kirabo adds that she used to play Short Put, Discus and Javelin way back in high school.
However, when she joined High School, she never got any more basketball exposure.
“But one day we happened to get a coach from Tennessee called Thomas Simpson who made me fall in love with the game again.”
The Arrival of Coach Roger Sserunyigo
Her current coach at KIU Rangers Roger Sserunyigo spotted Kirabo when he went to officiate the games at Nakirebe School.
“Since then, he has made me reach to where I am. He is not only my coach but my Papa as well.
When UMU was starting a new girls basketball team, Sserunyigo was consulted and the coach did not hesitate but recomend Kirabo.
After passing the trials, she was handed a scholarship. A chance of a lifetime.
“The Parents were very happy. They were not going to pay tuition for my campus. I was on scholarship at Watoto and Watoto was still entitled to pay my tuition at campus. So the money was to be chaneled to another needy person.”
Sserunyigo, who was then a Head coach for KCCA Leopards had earlier wanted her to join the junior KCCA team. He had trust in her, but the top bosses at KCCA did not buy the idea of forming a junior team.
“Then later he came to UMU as a head coach as well. At this moment I was the happiest. He would criticize me but for my better good. Since then, my game has been getting better and better.
In her debut season with UMU, the team earned promotion to the National Basketball League.
Kirabo finished her Bacherlors of Arts in Education at KIU and decided to call it enough. Leaving Nkozi after illustrious three years.
Coincidentally, Sserunyigo also left Nkozi and was named head coach at KIU Rangers, and Kirabo was her on top of her priority list.
“He told me that they needed a centre and he went ahead to assure me that I will do a good job there,” Kirabo reveals her conversation with Sserunyigo then. “I did not hesitate.”
“And to say, when I got called on the National team, I actually congratulated him because to me, his efforts to see be a better player had come to pass and he would tell me, I want to see you get up there to the national team of Uganda and he knew I would make it.”