On Wednesday, the National Council of Sports-NCS decided to revoke the certificate of recognition for the Uganda Netball Federation (UNF). This decision comes as a result of the UNF’s alleged failure to address persistent governance and leadership challenges, rendering the UNF unauthorized to conduct any netball-related activities on behalf of the Ugandan Government.
As per Section 15, subsection 3 of the National Sports Act, when a sports association or federation’s registration is canceled, it must cease its operations as a national sports entity. Subsection (4) goes on to stipulate that, in such cases, the Council will seek the intervention of the international sports governing body affiliated with the national sports association or federation. This body would appoint a normalization committee responsible for managing the national sports entity during the interim.
The UNF has been responsible for overseeing the National Netball team, popularly known as the She Cranes. The She Cranes have consistently delivered remarkable performances on the continental and global stage. During the recent Netball World Cup, they secured a commendable fifth-place finish overall and were recognized as the best African team.
This exceptional performance has led to more than five national team players securing professional contracts with clubs outside of Uganda. However, following the withdrawal of the recognition certificate in accordance with the National Sports Act 2023, 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.
This development comes shortly before the African Netball Championship, which is set to commence in the near future. Uganda had won the rights to host the championship during the Africa Netball Federations Annual General Meeting in South Africa, beating out Kenya, Namibia, and Zambia. However, the government has expressed its unpreparedness to host the event scheduled for November.
UNF President Sarah Babirye Kityo has already initiated legal action against the National Council of Sports General Secretary, Dr. Patrick Ogwel, even before the decertification. Her lawsuit challenges his alleged unwarranted interference in the UNF’s legitimate activities, affairs, and functions. Kityo has raised concerns about Ogwel’s continuous dissemination of false accountability claims and allegations of misappropriation of UNF funds, which she claims were orchestrated by Ogwel.
Regarding the participation of the National teams representing Uganda, Kityo mentioned 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, and if this proves feasible, they will pursue it.
Efforts to obtain a comment from NSC General Secretary, Dr. Patrick Ogwel, were unsuccessful at the time of filing this report.