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Remembering departed top female sports personalities

Violet Kalisa (L) and Harriet Apako

Violet Kalisa (L) and Harriet Apako

Last week, Suzan Kabejja Kafumbe, a former Federation of Uganda Basketball Associations (Fuba) treasurer and co-founder of the famous Lady Bucks, passed on.

As the sports fraternity comes to grips with her death, I have decided to dedicate this edition to some of the famous women athletes who died, while also celebrating their legacies.


She had one of the richest CVs in sports administration. Besides playing netball and athletics at school level, Kalisa twice headed the Uganda Netball Association (now UNF) from 1972 to 1978 and again in 1982 until 1984 when she stepped down to concentrate on her job as a passport control officer at the ministry of Internal Affairs.

In 1992, she headed the Uganda Athletics Federation. She also served on the Fufa executive committee in 1982 before joining the NCS board and the Nakivubo board of trustees. She served on various probe committees in Fufa. She passed on in 2000.


She excelled in several sports disciplines and won a series of titles locally, regionally and continentally. She played netball, handball, volleyball, athletics and basketball at all levels. She excelled at the 1978 Africa Games in Algiers, Algeria, where she won a silver medal in the pentathlon.

A teacher by profession, she captained most of the teams she played for, such as the She Cranes and the national ladies handball team. She also coached the She Cranes in 1993.


She excelled in athletics and specialized in sprints. She won gold medals in several regional games. She featured in the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.

In winning a bronze medal at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, Ayaa became the first Ugandan woman athlete to win a medal at the Commonwealth Games. She passed away in 2002.


The towering netballer made her breakthrough in 1974 at the Coffee Marketing Board team, where she was working as a sorting staffer.

She used her explosive height and aggression to tear apart opponents and was a key player in She Cranes that won the 1975 regional tournament in Zanzibar. But just when she was approaching her peak in 1978, she died in a motor vehicle accident on the Iganga-Busia highway.


She played top-level netball, handball and basketball, winning more than 30 major titles in her career. She was twice named Netballer of the Year and Sports Personality of the Year in 1995.

She was also part of the She Cranes team that won gold at the 2011 All Africa Games in Mozambique and also featured in the 2015 Netball World Cup in Australia. She died on October 15, 2015.


She smashed national and regional records in javelin but made a record when she won a gold medal in the 1970 British Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, Scotland, to become the first female Ugandan athlete to win a medal in this event.

In 1978, Rwabiryagye also won a bronze medal during the All Africa Games in Algiers, Algeria. She has since passed on.


She was an explosive netball and handball player during her spell at the Prisons and Bank of Uganda teams. The elegant player was on top of her game when she featured in the She Cranes side, which played in the 1979 Netball World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago and later helped the Bank of Uganda (BoU) team to the 1987 league title. She died in the 1990s.


She was a mid-court player for the KCCA netball side and later joined her elder sister Jane Nakamatte Bigingo at the Uganda Commercial Bank (UCB) netball club, where she became a star player, featuring in all defensive positions.

In 1979, Mukasa played for the She Cranes side, which took part in the 1979 Netball World Cup held in Trini- dad and Tobago. She died on May 30, 2018.


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