On Wednesday, the National Council of Sports-NCS decided to revoke the certificate of recognition for the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF). The decision followed the Federation’s alleged failure to address persistent governance and leadership challenges. This means that UNF is no longer authorized to conduct any activities related to netball on behalf of the Uganda Government.
According to Section 15, subsection 3 of the National Sports Act, a sports association or federation whose registration is cancelled is required to cease operating as a national sports entity. Subsection (4) further stipulates, “When a registration certificate is cancelled, the Council shall seek the intervention of the international sports governing body to which the national sports association or federation is affiliated, to appoint a normalization committee responsible for managing the affairs of the national sports entity during the interim.”
Currently, UNF is responsible for overseeing the National Netball team, commonly known as the She Cranes. Over time, the She Cranes have consistently delivered outstanding performances both on the continent and the global stage. During the recent Netball World Cup, the She Cranes achieved a fifth-place finish overall and were recognized as the best African team.
This outstanding performance has paved the way for more than five national team players to secure professional contracts with clubs outside of Uganda. As per the National Sports Act 2023, following the withdrawal of the recognition certificate, the current UNF is prohibited from organizing any national representation for Uganda in international competitions. Article 19 of the Sports Act addresses the management of sports teams and athletes in international sports competitions.
Subsection (1) states that a national sports association or federation is responsible for forming a national team for the respective sports discipline. Subsection (2) mandates that a national sports association or federation is accountable for developing, selecting, summoning, and managing the national team for the respective sports discipline. Subsection (3) emphasizes that these organizations must regulate the management of the national team.
This decision by the National Council of Sports comes just months before the commencement of the African Netball Championship. In fact, in August 2022, URN reported that Uganda had secured the right to host the next edition of the African Netball Championship during the Africa Netball Federations Annual General Meeting in South Africa, outcompeting Kenya, Namibia, and Zambia.
However, subsequent discussions with URN revealed that the government expressed its unpreparedness to host the championship scheduled for November. Speaking to journalists today, UNF President Sarah Babirye Kityo stated that despite the current challenges, they have already called upon the National teams to begin preparations for the Africa Netball Championships and the Diamond series while awaiting the court’s decision.
It is worth noting that even before the withdrawal of the recognition certificate, UNF President Sarah Babirye Kityo had initiated legal action against the National Council of Sports General Secretary, Dr. Patrick Ogwel. Her lawsuit challenged his alleged unwarranted interference in the legitimate activities, affairs, and functions of the UNF.
Through her legal representation by Luzige, Lubega Kavuma, and Co. Advocates, Kityo raised concerns about Ogwel’s continuous dissemination of false accountability claims and allegations of misappropriation of UNF funds. She alleges that these claims have been found to be orchestrated by Ogwel, according to the Inspector General of Government.
Regarding the participation of the National teams representing Uganda, Kityo disclosed that their legal team is exploring options for the She Cranes to represent the Uganda Netball Federation as an entity rather than solely representing Uganda. She added that if this option proves feasible, they will pursue it.
Our attempts to obtain a comment from the NSC General Secretary, Dr. Patrick Ogwel where unsuccessful as he had not responded to our queries by the time of filing this story.