Covid 19 and Sports: Start of Netball League remains on course

By Esther Muwonge

The Uganda Netball Federation (UNF) remains upbeat, that they will be able to get this year’s national top-flight league underway soon. The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic brought sports activities to a standstill since March.

Not even netball, a sport in which Uganda has gained a lot of international acclaim over the last five years was spared. The League could not start as earlier scheduled, in May. And although doubts regarding its start remain, following the persistence of the disease, albeit the relatively small number of cases in Uganda, the federation is targeting August, as a realistic time to get going.

Wilberforce Mutete, the spokesman of UNF said that while at this time, it is difficult to be sure of when any sports activity will return here, they remain optimistic. Mutete noted, that ultimately everything depends on the government directives relating to the prevalence of covid-19 infections in the country.

Yet, since the government has been easing on the lockdown lately, by allowing normalcy to return in form of businesses re-opening, Mutete believes even sport (netball) will return. The greater population has also been allowed to return to work.

“Based on that, we think that maybe sports will be permitted by August, and that is the time we are targeting as a Federation, to start our league,” Mutete said. The national netball league has ten teams for this year (NIC,Prisons,Kcca,UCU,Police,UPDF,KBK,Uganda X,Posta and Weyonje), which according to Mutete can be completed within two months if it stretches.

She Cranes & NIC’s Joan Nampungu

This should provide a good opportunity for other teams, to try and dethrone NIC netball club, the defending champions. But at the same time, with Uganda now ranked second in Africa, and sixth in the world, domestic competition is crucial for the improvement of players.

Inevitably, the national league is the major platform on which Uganda produces its ever emerging stars in netball. But also, it is where they hone their skills, to take on the rest of the world. There are a couple of under-age netball competitions coming up, and Uganda needs its players to be ready for them. It is through the league and schools competitions, that they can be prepared.

Meanwhile, as the UNF continues to hope, that they can start the league in August, some countries, also affected by the coronavirus have had sports returning to the horizon.

In Australia, the Suncorp Super Netball League for the 2020 season will begin on Saturday 1 August.

According to Danielle Smith, the CEO of Sunshine Coast Lightning netball club, they are filled with excitement, that the 2020 league is just months away. There is a great deal of emotion even for their fans at this juncture. Sunshine Coast Lightning netball club, is where Uganda’s star player Peace Proscovia plies her trade.

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