Uganda Netball Awards: Shakirah Nassaka Crowned Best of the Season

Weyonje Netball Club’s Goal Defender Shakirah Nassaka has been named the Best Player of the Season at the Uganda Netball Federation Awards.

The awards, first of it’s kind by the now vibrant Federation, were held on Tuesday night at Imperial Royale Hotel in Kampala.

Attended by a couple of dignitaries in the Sports circles, State Minister for Sports Hon Hamson Obua was the Chief Guest as Netball Federation rewarded excellency.

Nassaka beat off stiff competition from her Weyonje teammate Asinah Kabendela and NIC Netball team’s Margaret Bagala.

L-R: Margaret Bagala (left), Kabendela Asinah and Shakirah Nassaka

“This means a lot to me. I have to continue working hard. I have worked for this and I thank my fellow teammates as well,” briefly commented an excited Nassaka

Nassaka who is also the captain of Kampala University, started playing Netball when she was still a toddler at Natete Modern. She later joined Star SS Jjeza where she studied until S.4 before joining Ngando SS in Butambala for A’level.

Nassaka played for UPDF and later left for Weyonje Netball team where she has been for the past two seasons.

Stellah Oyella (NIC) and Norah Lunkuse (KCCA) were on the initial five-player shortlist which was reduced to the final three.

The winners were determined by online votes conducted by Uganda Netball Federation.

Bashir Matovu of SMASH was named the best men player of the season, beating an initial list that had Mishali (International), Richard Epa (Kampala University), John Kizito (Kampala University), Dissan Wasswa (WOB), Bosco Yiga (Blue Stars Magpies) and Moses Mugisha (Prisons).

Minister Obua Hails Uganda Netball Federation

State Minister of Sports Hamson Obua lauded the UNF leadership for the job done in recent past.

“I congratulate the leadership of Uganda Netball Federation, athletes, Coaches and key stakeholders and those supplementing the efforts of Government to make the sport of Netball a success.

“Netball has demonstrated the principle of ‘your attitude determines your altitude’ and I want to salute the UNF President for having assembled a team of active and senior citizens, with very good record in the fields where they have served including the Patron of Netball.

“I congratulate UNF because we have a big championship coming up and that’s the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham. Our national team has made history as the champions of Africa on various occasions and who are we not to thank God. There are many nations who have failed to achieve success despite enormous Government funding.

“I bring you greetings from Maama (The first lady), she says thank you for being a good student, out of the 51 Federations, you are one of the best presidents. I want to recommend publicly that in addition to all the Corporate companies coming on board, if there is still any doubt that Netball in Uganda is not alive and kicking, your answer lies in this Ceremony. I give an open invitation and recommendation to other sponsors to join UNF.”

Sarah Babirye Kityo Walking the Talk

There were divided opinions from all corners when the then little known Sarah Babirye Kityo was voted into the leadership of UNF on June 5 2021.

Uganda Netball Federation President Sarah Babirye Kityo. (Photo by UNF media)

It was work cut out for Babirye, going into the Federation that had not seen a change in leadership after Susan Anek’s 12-year reign.

Amidst all challenges, and reported resistance from NCS that was in support of Anek, Babirye stood her ground and has since weathered the storm.

She promised big during one of her first public interviews, and many thought that it’s the usual sweet talk of new leaders who are being ushered into power.

But a month later, boom! She transfered the Federation addressed from the one-room squeezed office at NCS to a new and big office located on Aga Khan building in Old Kampala.

She launched a four-year strategic plan and some steps have been taken including amending the constitution after putting up a full working Executive.

Efforts to bring Netball to the grassroots are in advanced stages, a couple of sponsors including GoTV, Uganda Airlines, Plascon Uganda among others are already on board.

Rewarding excellence with a standard awards dinner is the latest in her accomplishment.

But she didn’t take all the credit, during her remarks: I am grateful to God that this colourful day has been a success. I want to thank my Executive, everything we have done here is a combination of everyone’s input, I want to thank all who came to our rescue.

“This is just the beginning, they should expect these awards every year. We are here to nurture talent and develop Sports in this Country.”

Babirye also credited the good work of the past Regimes that saw the She Cranes qualify to the World Cup and Commonwealth.

Both Jocelyn Ucanda and Christine Nampijja who she beat in the Presidential Elections, were present at the Awards, a good gesture that was also highlighted by Minister Obua.

Glamour at Imperial Royale

It was all good sights to see the Netball stars swapped their playing jerseys for glamorous classic dresses and suites on a night they were celebrated.

This swag of celebrating a season of achievements, was long overdue and missed.

The players were cherishing every moment of the night, putting all the sweat they left on the courts and restless days of hard-work under scorching sunshine aside.

Renown comedian Patrick Salvador Idringi and Urban TV’s Brian Assiimwe were the day’s MCees, and the duo never disappointed.

A couple of dignitaries including NCS Chairman Dr Donald Rukare, chairperson board of trustees Margret Nantongo Zziwa, She Cranes coach Fred Mugerwa Tabale, Boxing Federation President Moses Muhangi, Table Tennis President Robert Jjagwe, Sponsors representatives, Football administrator Ben Misagga, Ex-players and others attended a colourful event.

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There was a musical interlude where artistes King Saha, Geosteady and the Comedian duo of Madrat and Chiko entertained revellers.

And dinner was saved at the very end of the ceremony.

Not all went on plan, including a long musical break, confusion in giving out awards, among others, but who can blame this new Executive that is yet to make a year in office?

The Winners

Weyonje Captain Nassaka, like earlier stated, took home the biggest prize – Player of the Season (Women) – an award that was accompanied with some prizes from a couple of sponsors.

The equivalent of Nassaka’s award in the Men’s division went to Bashir Matovu of SMASH.

The Best top scorer went to Asinah Kabendela of Weyonje, Vincent Kiwanuka (NIC) was named the best coach, Rebecca Kavulu (UNF Umpiring Committee) was recognized with a Presidential Award while Jackson Kayira (Head of Media) was awarded with the best UNF Employee award.

The KCCA duo of Sandra Nambirige and Shadiah Nassanga were awarded with Promising and most improved player of the year respectively.

Best seven of the season – First Division; GS – Kabendela Asina (Weyonje), GA – Stella Oyella (NIC), GK – Shifah Nalwanja (KCCA), C – Bagala Maggie (NIC), WD – Viola Asingo (Prisons), GD – Shakira Nassaka (Weyonje), WA – Nolah Lunkuse (KCCA).

The best Male 7 of the season has Ssebuliba Mishali- Int’l, Eppa Richard-KU, Matovu Bashir-SMASH, Kizito John-KU, Wasswa Disan-WOB, Bosco Yiga-Blue Stars Magpies and Mugisha Moses-Prisons

The Winners of the three divisions – NIC (Super League), Greater Busia Netball team (Women Second Division) and Kampala University (Men Division) – plus first and second runners up were crowned on the night as well.

Fair Play award was given to Air Force team.

The Federation will now switch focus to the East Africa Club Championships due next month, Commonwealth Games (28th July – 8th August 2022), the World Cup Qualifiers (22nd – 27th August 2022 (South Africa).


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