The start for women’s cricket in Uganda was quite slow when Susan Luswata took on a handful of girls back in 2001.
Nearly two decades later, the senior women’s national women’s team is now set to grace the grand stage of the game.
Yesterday, the Lady Cricket Cranes were flagged for their biggest assignment ever to Netherlands for the ICC Women’s World Twenty20 Qualifier due July 7-14.
“It is a privilege to be here and we are ready to take on this big chance,” skipper Kevin Awino, said moments after receiving the flag from National Council of Sports general secretary David Katende and former Uganda Cricket Association (UCA) board member Jackson Kavuma.
This moment could have come earlier for Uganda but the nation had lived in the shadow of Zimbabwe and Namibia for long.
But now ranked second behind South Africa on the continent and 18th overall in the ICC global standings, there is all optimism heading to Netherlands.
“I believe we have done enough and we are ready to mingle with the big sides,” offered star player Gertrude Candiru who was MVP when Uganda won the Africa T20s last September to earn the Dutch ticket.
The country’s preparations had the Lady Cricket Cranes whitewash Tanzania 6-0 away and as well won the Zimbabwe T20 Women’s tourney in May.
The story is sweeter even with long-serving members like Franklyn Najjumba, Consy Aweko and Carol Namugenyi in the side that will face Scotland, 2016 Qualifier champions Ireland and Thailand in Group B at the eight-nation tournament.
The top two face those from Group A that includes Bangladesh, Netherlands, Papua New Guinea and UAE in the semi-finals with the tournament finalists qualifying for the Women’s T20 World Cup in West Indies come November.
Coach Francis Otieno has a chance to blend that experience with youth exuberance that comprises Candiru, Ritah Musamali, Joyce Mary Apio and Immaculate Nakisuyi.
“We are going to represent the whole of Africa and we want to do it well even if it is our first time here,” assistant captain Janet Mbabazi said.
Uganda’s trip to Europe was bankrolled by MTN with Shs5m and support from the India Association of Uganda, among other individuals including a $1000 promise from UCA board member Hanumant Katkar.
Team Uganda: Kevin Awino (Captain), Janet Mbabazi (Assistant Captain), Gertrude Candiru, Rachael Ntono, Consy Aweko, Carol Namugenyi, Franklyn Najjumba, Saidat Kemigisha, Mary Nalule, Rita Musamali, Stephannie Nampiina, Immaculate Nakisuyi, Joyce Mary Apio, Prico Nakitende
Non-travelling reserves: Evelyn Anyipo, Irene Alumo
Officials: Francis Otieno Ndege (Coach), Grace Mutyagaba (Assistant Coach), Lydia Bakumpe (Manager), Mary Makumbi (Head of Delegation), Hanumant Katkar (UCA Board Member).
ICC WOMEN’S WORLD T20 QUALIFIER
July 5: UAE vs. Uganda, VCC
July 7: Scotland vs. Uganda, VRA
July 8: Uganda vs. Thailand, Kampong
July 10: Ireland vs. Uganda, VRA
July 12: Semi-finals
July 14: Final