Friday, July 28
•Tonga Vs Fiji
•New Zealand Vs Trinidad & Tobago
•Uganda Vs Singapore, 12pm (EAT)
•Australia Vs Zimbabwe
•Jamaica Vs Sri Lanka
•South Africa Vs Wales
•Malawi Vs Scotland
•England Vs Barbados
Uganda Women’s National Netball team, the She Cranes, will start their 2023 Netball World Cup campaign on Friday against Singapore at the International Conventional Centre in Cape Town, South Africa.
There is huge optimism for Uganda and the other three African Countries at this tournament given that it’s going to be the first time the World Cup is hosted on the African soil.
The She Cranes qualified for this World Cup automatically due to its 6th position in the World Rankings then on August 12th 2022.
Five teams, by virtue of their rankings, qualify to the World Cup, but South Africa (5th ranked), had qualified by virtue of being hosts.
A lot has changed for the She Cranes since, majorly dropping from 6th to eighth – surpassed by Malawi and Tonga – after missing the World Cup Qualifiers in South Africa last year and later fined by the International Netball Federation.
The She Cranes’ build up to this World Cup has been shadowed by the Uganda Netball Federation accountability issues that saw the Body’s President Sarah Babirye Kityo stepping aside for three months.
Babirye who recently forced her return, was also imprisoned for days for conning millions of shillings from people in a bid to take them abroad.
Dust looks to have settled for now, but how these events that were also highlighted by Police deployment at the offices by Vice President Brig Flavia Byekwaso, will affect the team’s performances in Cape Town, remain to be known.
The team, flagged off last week at Serena Hotel by Sports Minister Peter Ogwang, trained for about 40 days starting with non residential training at Kamwokya TLC before spells at Africa Bible University in Lubowa, Lugogo Indoor and finally at Nakirebe.
Ogwang confirmed that each player on the team will receive Sh10m from Government(which has already been wired on individual accounts) as allowances, and they are expected to bank more from the Federation.
How Far Can the She Cranes Go?
The She Cranes are playing their fourth Netball World Cup after previous appearances in 1979 (Port of Spain), 2015 (Sydney) and 2019 (Liverpool).
It was at the 2019 World Cup when the She Cranes achieved her best finish – 7th.
Besides Mary Nuba and Stella Nanfuka, the rest of the She Cranes players will be making their Netball World Cup debut.
Nanfuka faces stiff competition to start at GK with Hanisha Muhammad while Nuba, the team’s GS, trained with the team in Uganda – Just connected with the team in South Africa.
But a couple, including reliable Centre Margaret Baagala, have gained international exposure from the 2022 Fast Five World Series, Vitality Netball Series in the United Kingdom among others.
New Zealand will be favourites by virtue of their ranking and being defending champions, but the She Cranes will fancy their chances against Singapore and Trinidad and Tobago.
Before flying out, the She Cranes played 14 friendly matches against the Men’s National team – The Rock.
In South Africa, the She Cranes have played two friendly matches, beating Barbados 54-33 and Scotland 53-47.
Ranked 28th, 20 places below Uganda, Singapore will be appearing at their seventh Netball World Cup’s, with their first appearance coming at the Perth 1967 World Tournament where they finished 8th, their highest finish to date.
At the previous Netball World Cup in 2019, Singapore finished in 16th place – Bottom.
They lost all games, including group games against Barbados, Malawi and New Zealand.
To qualify for South Africa, they qualified by finishing second at the Netball Asian Championship, losing by 10 goals against Sri Lanka in the final on home soil.
That tournament doubled as the Netball World Cup qualifier for the Asian Countries.
The Playing Format:
•Pool A: Australia, Tonga, Zimbabwe, Fiji.
•Pool B: England, Malawi, Scotland, Barbados.
•Pool C: Jamaica, South Africa, Wales, Sri Lanka.
•Pool D: New Zealand, Uganda, Trinidad & Tobago, Singapore
The top three teams from Groups A and B will be joined in a new Pool F.
And the same will be done for the top three in C and D to form a new Group G.
These teams will carry forward the results against the teams they faced in the initial groups.
And will contest three further matches against teams they have yet to play in the Group.
The top two teams from each group (G and F) will qualify for the semi-finals, while there will be classification matches for other nations.
What they said:
Mary Nuba (Goal Shooter She Cranes) – “It’s my second time at the World Cup and I am really excited, it’s going to be a tough ride but we are here as a team and a unit and we are going to do our best, play our hearts out.”
She Cranes Documentary
This week, renown Sports Journalist Allan Darren Kyeyune, under KYE Films, produced a documentary about the She Cranes adventure to this World Cup titled ‘She Cranes: Time to shine’
Kyeyune told The-SportsNation: “This is part of the long pathway to grow the sports industry in Uganda. Happy to have spent some good time to cook this.”
“I hope the lovers of Netball in Uganda and the world at large learn and appreciate a thing or two about the She Cranes set to compete for glory in Cape Town.
“There could be more to discover about this country in this video piece of work. This is another piece of content after the feature documentary about Uganda Cranes’ Salim Jamal Magoola and there will be more to come in 2023.”
Watch the piece here:
She Cranes Probable Starting Seven – Mary Nuba (GS), Irene Eyalu (GA), Norah Lunkuse (WA), Maggie Baagala (C), Shaffie Nalwanja (WD), Christine Nakitto (GD), Stella Nanfuka (GK)
Also read: She Cranes final Squad
How To Watch – The game will be live on Supersport Variety 3 (DStv and GOtv).