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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

THE SHE CRANES WORLD CUP HANGS IN THE BALANCE UNLESS …

Last year like a bolt of lightning from the blue the She Cranes qualified for the Netball World Cup.
This achievement was noteworthy on many fronts, not least of all that they qualified in the face of insurmountable odds – lack of cash, equipment or even drinking water during their qualifying matches in Botswana.

Even more commendable is that they went about their business without complaining about their circumstance.

But if we thought that the floodgates of national goodwill and government support would burst open with this once-in-a-lifetime event we were sorely mistaken.

As it is now, it is as if there is an official conspiracy to fail our daughters.

At the beginning of this month the team’s captain Peace Proscovia, was shocked to discover that her colleagues had not only been deprived of the court on which they had honed their skills at Nakivubo – it was sold under mysterious circumstance to a developer, but that the makeshift court they were using in Namboole stadium was so bad that it had already accounted for four of the national team players, injured and unlikely to participate in the World Cup in August.

And as if that was not enough, the only other playing surface that would have afforded them some good practice time, the MTN Arena at Lugogo, was otherwise engaged and the engagements could not be suspended to allow the She Cranes a few days practice on it.

It gets worse.

According to reports, money for their training for the World Cup had been released by government but had somehow been frittered away before it go to the netball association. So the girls are having to scrounge around for playing kit and other logistics to keep on training.

This is important because this budget among other things was supposed to cater for advance payments for the World Cup. As it is now the girls She Cranes have not confirmed their flight arrangements or accommodation or secured their meals (which are supposed to be paid for in advance) nor have their kits been approved by the games organisers – the samples they have sent were dismissed as substandard.

And amid all this hardship – avoidable hardship, for the She Cranes we hear that plans are afoot to have a 20-man delegation of officials accompany the team to Australia! Per diems all around!
It is enough to break your heart.

And when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.

Many of our local companies and “well-wishers” who were falling all over themselves to contribute funds towards the She Cranes’ training, have not fulfilled their pledges. In some instances brushing off the team as being in too much of a hurry to get the money when the tournament is months away.
Some “well-wishers” have had the audacity to query why the girls have started their training too 

early, “Can’t you start three weeks to the games?”

The reactions to the She Cranes from a country starved of sporting success is mind boggling.

There have been horror stories in the past of how the Uganda Cranes on the verge of qualifying, needing as little as draw, have gone on to inexplicably, fluff the opportunity. Rumours have circulated about how officials have contrived to throw the match for big payouts, having drummed up the boys’ chances to a gullible public before running off with the record gate collections.

The same scenario is being played out all over again.

Some people are more than pleased to take advantage of the girls’ new found fame to make as much personal gain as they can – never mind that they were not there during their years wandering in the wilderness.

It wouldn’t be bad if they were basking in the girls’ glory but made life easier for the She Cranes to prepare for the World Cup.

No!

Not only are they determined to bask in the girls’ glory, but they want to bleed them dry as well. And when the girls are picking up the pieces for their broken dream from a scandalously disastrous campaign in Australia, these same officials will have moved their vampiric attention to the next team.

These are our sisters and cousins who have done us proud and can still make us proud.

"Just because the rest of us are content to wallow in our mediocrity does not mean we should frustrate these young ladies who, in pushing the limits of their potential threaten to lift us out of our collective self-hate and make us proud to be Ugandan....

Their journey to his point, dismissed as futile many times, is the stuff of which Hollywood movies are made.

As a nation we must put aside our envy, step out of their way, help them if we can and allow these fine ladies to show the world that something good can come out of Uganda.

Over to you government of Uganda.

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