For the first time in almost 10 years, the New Hope Academy girls’ netball team traveled to play at the regional tournament in Luwero on Friday.
Michael Oburu, the secondary school headmaster, prayed for the girls prior to their departure. Ten daughters made the trip, accompanied by four staff members. During the 30-minute drive to the hosting school, the girls sang some worship songs with great gusto!
About 20 teams from schools in five districts gathered to take part in the tournament. The schools were separated into four groups for the initial games, with the top two teams from each group advancing to the semi-finals. The seven best teams qualified for nationals.
The tournament organizers had four courts set up for netball, plus two courts for the concurrent volleyball tournament. The netball games were also quick, with just seven-minute halves instead of the normal 15-minute quarters.
Josephine, one of the girls on the team, said she enjoyed getting to visit another school and taking a journey with her friends. While the teams they faced were hard, she said it taught her the importance of having a good heart while playing.
The NHA team played four games in its group. The girls won their second game, 11-9. They lost the other three games with final scores of 5-8, 4-6, and 4-10. The team seemed to struggle some with defending against the other teams well, but the rules of netball are very specific and make it easy to inadvertently foul when defending strongly.
Agnes, the team captain, commented on how excited she was to have the team reach this level of the competitions. The biggest challenge she saw was not having trained thoroughly enough. Usually the team only trains a couple months before the competitions rather than also during the off season. However, she enjoyed the teamwork and having people there to support them.
Asio, another team member, enjoyed getting to create some new friends from the people she met at the tournament. She found the last game very annoying, though, because the way the umpire was conducting herself was contrary to the rules that the NHA team had been taught. Asio said that helped her learn how to control her anger when around others. She also learned some new playing skills for her position as one of the defenders.
Despite discouragements and challenges—particularly feeling that the umpire of the final game was not fair—the girls persevered well and played hard to the end. They placed third in their group, meaning they did not advance to the semi-finals.
After finishing their games, the girls enjoyed lunch together. They were even able to share extra food with a few other attendees who would have gone hungry otherwise! Thankfully none of the girls were injured during the games.
This is the first year that NHA has qualified to send a girls’ netball team to the regional competitions since 2007, so it has been a good learning experience for this new generation and they hope to do better in the future!
Text and photos by Esther Carey, Communications Coordinator