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THE BIG BREAK

Starting in Kampala was a bit tough because sometimes I was walking for one and two hours to get to my training ground. But passion, determination, desire and belief kept me going.

 

My team supported me, too, because their aim is developing and opening the way for the girl child. I was offered a Diploma of Development Studies from Nkumba University, but I again needed to pay a lot of money.

 

Luckily enough, before I finished that diploma I was already playing for the national team, the She-Cranes, and when Uganda Christian University spotted me they gave me a full sports scholarship to do my business degree. But I also had to support my family.

 

From the little I got, I had to send money back home and maintain myself at the same time.

 

I sat next to a stranger who gave me some sweets to eat, just like you would share something with another traveller. I ate them. Little did I know that they were poisonous.

 

As I was pushing myself I was trying to push my young sisters, too, but unfortunately most of them had to drop off; they couldn’t continue at school. Only one of my siblings has decided to go to university and the other one is still in secondary school - that’s because I am now able to help.

 

The 2014 World Cup qualifiers in Botswana changed my life. English Superleague team Loughborough Lightning sent a scout to pick the best shooter and I luckily happened to be picked. When they took me over to England, that was when my career started to go higher and higher.

 

Loughborough gave me an admission for my Master of Science in Marketing. I will graduate on December 17. The greatest thing I have been able to achieve from netball is being able to leave my village, where education was meant only for boys, and, through sports, attaining my degree and my Master’s education. Netball has done that for me.

 

I was the first African player in the UK Superleague and being in Loughborough kind of changed my thinking of people in the western world. Initially I was told that when I got there I would be mistreated, I would not be handled with respect.

 

But they warmly welcomed me. I found this amazing community that loved me and a lady called Liz Broomhead, who has always helped me like her own daughter. I call her my mother.

 

Sunshine Coast Lightning are also making me feel at home and the weather here seems like Ugandan weather. Tropical. But I feel happier and safer abroad.

 

I’m kind of too popular in Uganda, I think - to the point that I even fear popularity because in developing countries popularity comes at a cost. Sometimes the cost might be your life - that’s how unfortunate it may be.

 

I’m very loved at home, but all that I focus on is making an impact in the community, trying to help other people achieve their dreams just like me. Most times, helping others doesn’t need money; what it needs is the wisdom and the motivation that you are able to give.

 

 

 

A UGANDAN IN AUSTRALIA

My first time in Australia was for the 2015 Netball World Cup in Sydney. What the world doesn’t know is that when I was growing up, I happened to land on the name Australia while we were studying history and I just loved the name of the country - without even knowing where it is in this world. So, my friends nicknamed me �Australia’. That’s what they would call me.

 

So, when I stepped into Sydney it made my world complete. Sydney was amazing. A different kind of world altogether. Now, as the first player from Uganda to reach Suncorp Super Netball, I am even more fulfilled. I am blessed that I’ve made it here because this is the dream of every netball player.

 

I never thought it was possible, never, because I am the type of person that under-rates myself in everything I do. I look at people and think they are much better than me. Yet, when I step in the court, I do something different (but I must listen to what other people say about that, because I cannot judge myself!).

 

From the time I went to England I was like, �God, I wish I could get an opportunity to play in Australia’. Then, after this year’s Commonwealth Games, I got messages into my inbox from Adelaide Thunderbirds and Sunshine Coast Lightning.

 

I also had four offers from England - Loughborough Lightning being one of them. I was very comfortable in England to a point that I almost rejected the Australian offers. At the same time, these two Australian offers were very competitive, so at the end of the day I had to choose one.

 

I like that Sunshine Coast is also �Lightning’ and I have always wished to be coached by Noeline Taurua. Her reputation has been so excellent that she made me come. I’m excited, and ready for the challenge.

 

It is hard when a team is at its peak because the forces that can bring you down are stronger; everyone wants to defeat you. But the good side of it is that I’m joining a team that is built on a solid background and when the foundation is strong it is hard for it to be shaken. Most importantly, being aware that no team will be easy on us makes us even work harder.

 

 

 

SLEEP HUNGRY, WAKE UP HAPPY

When I started prospering, my father became a very proud father. Initially, there were so many talented girls in my village whose parents would stop them going to the city. But I became an icon for them, so that now any girl can be picked from my village to go away and play netball. Parents willingly let them go and my father has become an advocate.

 

I always tell people that I cannot blame my father for anything. He did not know what he was doing. He was just acting out of desperation because he was a poor dad who wanted the best for his family and, at the same time - painfully - the best for his daughter, but he had no way out.

 

He grew up seeing girls being taken as worthless - as marriage material and mothers-to-be. I’m proud of my dad because now his work is to let people in the village know that girls are worth it and, if children have the talent, to let them pursue their dream.

 

Going through that lesson in life pushed me to be a better person. It has taught my father a lesson, as well.

 

The greatest thing I’ve been able to achieve from netball is being able to leave my village, where education was meant only for boys, and attaining my degree and my Master’s.

 

I still send money home to my family. I see what they are going through and I can’t forsake them. I’ll always stand by their side.

 

All I’m trying to do is make them independent because, as well as helping them, I extend my hand to several orphans - which is amazing for me. I can sleep hungry and wake up happy when I know someone else that cannot afford to eat is feeding.

 

I feel blessed. But what I always tell young girls is that we also have a role to play, that sometimes you must stand up and fight for your dream. My message to them is that there is no limit to what you can do and that no condition in life is permanent.

 

There will be valleys and mountains, but when you are determined and focused and do the right things, everything you need will always come to you.

 

What I am, who I am, and everything that I have is just because of netball. I always wanted to go to school like other children. I always wanted to have all the necessities, so that’s what the sport has done for me.

 

It has also helped me achieve self-actualisation, which means that now I must lift others, too. Talent will always do what nobody in this world can do for you.

 

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