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Uganda's She Cranes withdraws from African Netball Championship

The Uganda national netball team, the She Cranes will not participate in the upcoming 2023 African Netball Championship scheduled to kick off today November 26 in Botswana.

Moses Mwase, the chairperson of the recently appointed ad-hoc normalization committee for Netball told URN that it has been difficult for the Ugandan team to mobilize on very short notice amidst recent management turmoil adding that the team cannot be able to participate under the circumstances.

The decision comes against the backdrop of a crisis that saw the National Council of Sports (NCS) revoke the certificate of recognition for the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF), which was responsible for overseeing the national netball team. The turmoil began when UNF president Sarah Babirye Kityo clashed with NCS general secretary Patrick Ogwel.

Kityo accused Ogwel of forcing the federation to account for funds that were never provided for the team, while Ogwel accused Kityo of misappropriating government funds. Over time, the She Cranes have delivered outstanding performances both on the continent and the global stage.

During the recent Netball World Cup, the She Cranes achieved a fifth-place finish overall and emerged as the best African team. First, Kityo was asked by the minister of Education and Sports Janet Museveni to step down to allow investigations into allegations of mistreatment of players during the 2021 Pent Series, accusations of player harassment, misappropriation of government funds, and the failure to account for funds.   

After the alleged failure by Kityo to comply with the directives, government through NCS officially revoked the certificate of recognition from the UNF citing the federation’s alleged failure to address persistent governance and leadership challenges. 

This meant that UNF was no longer authorized to conduct activities related to netball on behalf of the Ugandan government as per Article 19 of the National Sports Act 2023, which prohibits a national federation from organizing any national representation for Uganda in international competitions following the withdrawal of the recognition certificate. 

Subsequently, an ad-hoc normalization committee entrusted with the day-to-day operations of the federation was appointed, until new elections are held. On whether there are plans to hold netball elections soon, Mwase said they are still preparing the ground for that.

"That is part of our terms of reference, but right now, it will come a little bit late because you don’t just organize elections, you have to prepare the ground, and look into the constitution, so you cannot just jump into elections now,” he said.

Mwase, however, said that the netball normalization committee is working under the clock to make sure that the team takes part in the Vitality Netball Nations Cup 2024. The tournament which is slated for January 2024 will involve Uganda, England, Australia, and New Zealand.

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