She Cranes players are up in arms with the Uganda Netball Federation over their unpaid allowances for the concluded 2023 Netball World Cup in South Africa.
The embattled Federation vowed to pay allowances to players, money which the Gallant She Cranes are yet to receive.
UNF unveiled three sponsors for the She Cranes days before the World Cup, and the players were promised that they will be receiving their cut.
•On June 30, Uganda Airlines came on board with Return Tickets as well as Sh56m.
•On July 4, Paint Manufacturers Plascon Uganda unveiled their Sh100m package.
•On July 18, Gals Sports Betting came on board with Sh68m.
UNF Marketing Director Dan Ntale who also doubles as President Sarah Babirye’s husband, said during one of the unveilings that “we shall give the players part of the money because they have worked for it.”
These players went on to feature in some adverts for the said companies and had their image rights used.
The players wanted to get their share before the end of the World Cup in South Africa, but while there, Babirye told them that transactions cannot be made as the CEO Francis Banya who could sign on the money in Uganda, was with them in South Africa.
And they were told that they will receive the money as soon as they return to Uganda.
Fast forward in Uganda, Babirye called a meeting with the players at Sheraton where despite their discontent, each player was to receive 1000 dollars, around Sh3.7m.
Still, the suspended Babirye said that the players couldn’t receive the money because the CEO had not signed!
She told the players that Banya is conniving with acting President Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso not to sign on the money to make everyone believe that Babirye had eaten the Sponsorship money in a bid to tarnish her name.
Some players, who preferred anonymity because they have been warned not to speak to the media about the matter, said they have demanded for their share but in vain.
“As the meeting went on, Babirye told us that she had managed to get us Sh1m each instead,” a senior She Cranes player told this website.
“We were very surprised because this was the same woman who had just told us that she couldn’t access the sponsorship money on the account.”
The players refused the Sh1m, and probed Babirye how then had she managed to access the accounts.
Babirye’s defence lifted another lid instead.
“She told us that the truth is the account on which they deposited the sponsorship money had an ‘Overdraft’ – They had borrowed earlier some money to fund Federation activities, so when the Sponsors money reflected, it was automatically deducted off.”
It’s strong to note that She Cranes’ Netball World Cup campaign was fully funded by the Government.
And during this hectic World Cup period, Babirye who was suspended, continued to appear in the She Cranes activations including the Sponsorships unveilings and went on to give media interviews!
Back to the Sheraton meeting, the players were left bemused by the new revelations. But thereafter, Babirye told the players that they were going to hold a meeting on August 19 to forge a way forward.
Since then, nothing has been suggested. There was another meeting at the offices in Old Kampala on August 23 between the Federation and the She Cranes players but nothing about their allowances was part of the discussion, instead the players were asked to give their views on the concluded World Cup.
The said meeting was sparsely attended, as a couple of players continued to protest for their delayed allowances.
“It’s becoming hectic and we don’t think that we will receive these allowances. We put our bodies on the line for many days including training sessions. It’s like we were used and dumped,” another She Cranes player told this website this week on Monday.
“We had accepted to receive Sh3.7m though we thought it could have been a higher figure, but even so, we have not received the little which was promised.”
It’s strong to note that the She Cranes players received Sh10m each from Government.
Revealing the package at the World Cup flag-off event at Serena Hotel before the team flew out, Sports Minister Peter Ogwang urged Uganda Netball Federation to pay other bonuses to players because the Federation had collected more from the Sponsors.
That very night, the Federation also held another sponsorship dinner.
“Truth is that the Federation collected some good money, but it just beats our understanding why we the main actors have not benefited from this”
Our calls to UNF CEO Francis Banya have gone unanswered.
But a source has told this website that the Sponsorship package was not deposited on the known UNF Bank Account, but rather on a separate account (Housing Finance Bank) where Babirye and her husband are the signatories, reports this website have not confirmed.
It’s strong to note that the She Cranes, stunned hosts South Africa to finish fifth at the 2023 Netball World Cup.
The She Cranes, who had lost to South Africa earlier in the preliminaries and the 2019 World Cup in Liverpool, defied odds and got their revenge to win 49-47.
That, is Uganda’s best ever finish at the World Cup, and a milestone that has seen the side become the number one team on the African Continent.
Per the new National Sports Act, it’s criminal to exploit Participants be it financial, physical, emotional, sexual etc.
This is the latest saga from the Netball Federation after She Cranes coach Fred Mugerwa openly threatened to resign over non-payments.
It remains to be seen how the She Cranes and Netball Federation will move on from this, especially with international engagements coming ahead.
The 2023 Africa Netball Cup will not be held in Uganda as Babirye had earlier said, but rather in Botswana on November 26 2023.
The She Cranes have also received an invite to feature in an international series just before the said Africa Cup.