By Morris Rawal
Due to unpaid rent for three months, the offices of the Uganda Netball Federation(UNF) were forced to shut.
The Federation failed to pay the rent for the months of October, November, and December, therefore the offices at the Aga Khan building in Old Kampala were forced to close.
The Federation currently owes Sh12M in arrears despite making monthly payments of Sh4M.
When asked about the shutdown of the office, Sarah Bbairye Kityo, the UNF President stated that she had been funding the office out of her own pocket for the previous 18 months, despite the fact that Parliament of Uganda had allotted them 3 billion shillings for the 2022–23 fiscal year budget.
“It’s true the offices are closed, it’s because of rent, the premises owner is demanding us arrears for three months.
“We have been telling people that we have never received any government funding from the NCS, I think it’s now time for the public to know that the federation doesn’t have money, I have been using my money to pay rent but as a person time reaches when you don’t have and yet we have a number of engagements both local and international.” she added.
Meanwhile, the UNF has to pay more than Shs18m ($5000) fine for the late communication to the hosts when they opted out of this year’s Africa Netball Championship that was held August 21-27 in South Africa.
Uganda withdrew from the competition six days prior to the commencement after paying participation fee, thereby failing to fulfill four fixtures in pool matches and one placing fixture.
Babirye says they expected to take the team to South Africa for the competition hence paying the participation fee, but lack of money from the National Council of Sports (NCS) to secure travel documents and other requirements saw them withdraw at the last moment.
“We so much wanted to take part in the tournament but we did not have money, so we chose to opt out, however we know that we shall not be in position to play World Cup next year if we do not pay the fine hence we have to pay before the competition,” she said.
South Africa emerged champions and followed by Malawi at the continental event that was graced by other countries in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya, Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini and Tanzania.
Penalties were slapped onto Uganda basing on the International Netball Federation (INF) regulations where section 6.33 states that if a member team confirms participation in an international event and fails to honor the fixtures, without having given at least 12 weeks written notice prior to the scheduled date, the team will be deemed to have lost the fixtures in the question and any rating and ranking points will be awarded accordingly.
Article 6.34 also states that the national association of the defaulting team will be fined and will also pay all reasonable, quantifiable financial losses incurred by the host, and until full payment, of all fines, the netball association of the defaulting team shall not be eligible to participate in or host any international competition or play any international match at any level.
Absence from the continental event led to Uganda’s drop from the sixth to seventh placement in the current INF ranking released this month.
While appearing before the Parliamentary committee this month, UNF president, Sarah Babirye Kityo broke down as she revealed her ordeal with the National Council of Sports.
Babirye told the committee that National Council of Sports General Secretary Dr. Bernard Ogwel has continuously frustrated her Federation’s activities by not complying with the set guidelines.
A bitter Babirye further alleged Corruption and bribing at the National Council of Sports mentioning illegal kickbacks demanded by some officials in the sports regulatory body.
Uganda Netball Federation western region Patron Gaffa Mbatekamwa asked the committee to ensure Dr Ogwel steps down from his role, for further investigations.
The Uganda National Netball team, the She Cranes had an exceptional performance recently at the Commonwealth Games as well as the Netball Fast Five competition where they emerged fifth in both competitions.