Gazelles ‘Excited’ To Play Again After Four-Year Lull

Uganda National Women Basketball team (Gazelles) Captain Flavia ‘Flirsh’ Oketcho says that they are ‘excited’ to play again after years of waiting.

The Gazelles are readying for the FIBA Zone Five Women Afrobasket Qualifiers due February 14-19 at Lugogo.

This will mark the first time the Gazelles step on court since 2019!

Then, the side missed a ticket to Afrobasket during the Qualifiers on home soil.

The team had a chance to go again in 2021 but FUBA withdrew the team from the event in Kigali after failing to get funds from Government to facilitate the team.

“It’s so disappointing that we hadn’t gotten any international games since 2019,” Flirsh said.

“This is an opportunity again to qualify, and do what we were not given a chance to do in 2021. We are so excited, this stage is not about basketball and playing the Sport we love but it’s something bigger, it’s about the love we have for our nation. It’s also about the spirit of winning. We want to inspire many young kids. We have a bigger purpose.”

Flirsh during training. (Fuba photos)

Flirsh joined the team at the end of last week after missing the opening sessions of training due to family engagements in United Kingdom.

She added: “It’s great to be back, it’s great to see everything physically that they were doing while I was away, but I was always in touch with the team doing the same work they were doing, trying to keep up and not be left behind.

“Knowing what’s at stake I had to do everything to be ready for the competition.”

Flirsh is the only player on the team that was part of the Gazelles team that featured at the 2015 Afrobasket.

The side, with some debutants like Shilla Lamunu, Perus Nyamwenge, Priscilla Aber among others, entered residential camp on Tuesday.

On the composition of the team, She commented: “It’s always good to mix up the team, you don’t have to think about today but you must see what’s coming ahead. Every single match you play you gain more experience, as a young player that’s very vital because it boosts up your confidence.”

“It lets you know where you are on international scope and knowing these are qualifiers then you definitely know what to expect at the bigger stage.”

Uganda will tussle it out with four other nations – Egypt, Rwanda, Kenya and South Sudan – for a single ticket to the 2023 FIBA Women Afrobasket.

On what it will take Uganda to earn her third qualification, Flirsh said: “It’s the heart, and belief, a lot of time you may have good players, everything that you need but it’s that extra push. We have never prepared this much for a tournament and we really hope that it’s a plus on our end.”

Rwanda already qualified as hosts.



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