The She Cranes journey and World Cups
The She Cranes made their Netball World Cup debut in 1979 in Trinidad and Tobago but only returned in 2015 after 36 years of absence from the world event.
The long absence from the pinnacle event was attributed to lack of funds and interest from the federation. However, in 2013, they embarked on a journey to see them qualify for the World Cup again.
The team’s preparations for their return to the global showpiece included participation in the Africa Netball Championships hosted by Malawi in 2013. It took a week for the ill-prepared team to travel to Blantyre by bus.
Despite all these challenges, the team finished joint third with Zambia behind South Africa and Malawi.
Uganda could later stand heads and shoulders above everyone during the 2014 African qualifiers where they won all their matches to break the 36-year absence from the Netball World Cup.
By mid-July in 2015, the She Cranes were already in training camp under coach Fred Mugerwa. However, a week before the championship, the veteran coach was sacked by the netball federation and replaced by Rashid Mubiru who led the team to their second World Cup.
The She Cranes lost their first group fixture to New Zealand but beat Zambia 74-38 and also defeated Fiji 61-40 to reach the second group stage.
In the classification game, Uganda lost 61-40 to finish eighth.
English side Loughborough Lightning spotted former captain Peace Proscovia during the 2015 World Cup.
The netball world took notice of Uganda’s Netball at the 2015 World Cup.
In 2017 Uganda hosted and won the Africa Netball Championships, a trophy they would defend in Zambia in 2018 before surrendering it to South Africa in 2019.
This performance saw the She Cranes gradually rise in the world rankings from 13th to seventh.
The She Cranes still qualified for the 2019 Netball World Cup in Liverpool, England. The Vincent Kiwanuka coached side finished seventh, a place better than their previous performance in 2015.
After the 2019 World Cup, some of the team mainstays were sidelined in consequent competitions.
In 2022 when coach Mugerwa returned for national duty, he opted for young and vibrant players most of whom were and are still students.
The team put up an overwhelming performance at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, managing to beat two African giants including Malawi 56-43 and South Africa 54-48 to finish fifth.
They later took part at the Netball Fast Five tournament in New Zealand where they managed to beat world’s top ranked Australia among other competitors.
This drew more attention to the vibrant and active youngsters from both local and international fans.
At the ongoing World Cup in South Africa, the same team plus a few debutants are working hard to see that they continue making the country proud.
In their group D fixtures at the World Cup in Cape Town, South Africa, Uganda comfortably beat Singapore and Trinidad and Tobago but lost to defending champions New Zealand to progress to the quarter final games.
We salute the ladies and keep watch as they progress and raise Uganda’s flag high.