For the first time, the Uganda National Netball side, the She Cranes took part in the 2021 Spar Challenge Tri-Nations Series against South Africa and Namibia.
Such tournaments in netball are always an opportunity for teams to collect points that propel them further up on the World Netball rankings chart. They are also an opportunity for the players of different nations to gain experience while playing against different opponents annually.
Unlike in football, World Rankings in netball are not just a formality. The five highest-ranked sides in netball are guaranteed a place at the Netball World Cup. The rankings also give the 12 highest-ranked sides a slot at the Commonwealth games.
For the 2023 World Cup scheduled to take place in Cape Town South Africa, the top 6 nations are guaranteed slots. This is because the host South Africa is in the top 5 so, they take on the slot of hosts and the team ranked 6th takes the final slot of the top 5.
Having lost to Malawi in the 2019 World Cup, Uganda dropped from 6th to 7th in the International Netball Federation (INF) World Rankings by 3 points. With the importance of the 6th position today, the She Cranes need to collect a lot of points en route to the 2023 World Cup so that they can topple Malawi.
Uganda gaining the 6th spot from Malawi will mean that the team will have a chance to being part of the continental qualifiers come the 2023 World Cup. This will be an added advantage for a team we all know very well that it has been struck by financial difficulties over time.
How the She Cranes performed at the SPAR Challenges Tri-Nation Series
Uganda beat Namibia 57- 27 in the final game of day 5 at the SPAR Challenges Tri-Nation Series in Cape Town making it 3 wins so far in the ties against Namibia in this Series.
The She Cranes were also able to put up an amazing stance and performance against the Desert Jewel 59-30 and 49-28 on Sunday and Friday respectively during the Series.
Rashid Mubiru’s side took early control of the proceedings, opening up a 5-1 lead, before making use of turnover balls to score another 12 goals in a row to make it 17-1, eventually ending the quarter 18-3 on top.
However, not all went according to plan when they played against their rivals and hosts South Africa. The She Cranes lost to their rivals 44-32 in the final game of the SPAR Series which was played at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in South Africa.
Uganda came into the contest looking for their first win over South Africa after losing the previous two encounters but their tremendous efforts were not enough to give them the win they needed.
Previously, on day 1 and day 4, Uganda lost to South Africa by 49-34 and 43-36 respectively. Similar to their previous encounter, this one too was defined by intensity and physicality.
The She Cranes were brilliant in the first quarter and won it 10-7 but the next ones were dominated by the Protea’s who fought back to reduce the tally to two goals as the first half ended 17-19.
Later on, Protea as usual played their game with intensity and pressure, making it hard for the She Cranes netball team to fight back their might. Uganda eventually crumbled in the last quarter after giving all its best due to poor passes around their shooting circle allowing south Africa to dominate and ran away with the contest 44-32.
She Cranes finished second in the championship with 6 points. Irene Eyaru and Joan Nampungu were voted best shooter and best defender of the tournament respectively.
Q1. South Africa 7-10 Uganda
Q2. South Africa 17-19 Uganda
Q3. South Africa 28-25 Uganda
Q4. South Africa 44-32 Uganda
The next shot at trying to collect more points might be next year at the 2022 Commonwealth games in Birmingham.
Author: Katende Basajjabaka
Katende writes about sports and occasionally technology.