It is the fast and noisy military fighter jets hovering over Kampala that dominated the talk at the launch of the 2016 Pepsi Girls Schools Twenty20 Cricket Week on Friday afternoon.
As soon as the jets began doing their rounds in the air, the available Kilembe SS and Nyakasura School contingents got talking.
“We missed out last year but we are back and stronger,” Nyakasura coach Bernard Opige told Sunday Monitor under the beaming sun. Opige, assisted by Hillary Balijuka, has one target from the 12-team showpiece that runs until May 11 at different ovals in Lugogo, Kyambogo and Budo. “We want to make the top eight,” he said. Nyakasura may be contenders but like the past four years, holders Kololo SS and Jinja Secondary School are the favourites for this year’s title.
The two sides have reached the tournament final for the last three years with Kololo winning by seven wickets last year. Since then, there have been inevitable changes in both camps but the Kampala side lost the services of coach Jackson Ogwang.
Lawrence Ssempijja was sought as a quick fix after Ogwang’s departure while record five-time winners Jinja and coach Habibu Mugalula seem to be inseparable. “Although I have lost some players, my teams always go out to compete,” said Mugalula, the winning coach in 2012, 2013 and 2014. He lost Rebecca Kizza, Patricia Busingye and Damalie Busingye as the trio completed their A’Level studies.
The rebuilding phase sees wicket-keeper Kevin Awino, Stephannie Nampiine and Ritah Musamali take up the top roles.
These all represented Uganda in the just-concluded ICC Africa Women’s World Cup Qualifiers held in Zimbabwe.
However, almost each other side has an experienced lad to look up to, something that will spice up competition in the pool stages.
For instance, Immaculate Nakisuyi (Masaka SS), Rachael Ntono (St James SS) and Joyce Apio (Olila High) were also on national duty in Harare.
SCHOOLS CRICKET WEEK
POOL A: Kololo, St James, Busoga HS, Nyakasura, Kyambogo, Masaka
POOL B: Jinja SS, Kilembe, Lord’s Meade VS, Olila HS, Gayaza HS, Ndejje SS.
2010: Jinja SS
2011: Gayaza HS
2012: Jinja SS
2013: Jinja SS
2014: Jinja SS
2015: Kololo SS