FAST5 Netball World Series debutantes Uganda have relished their exposure to top level international netball, and they want more.
Making their first appearance at the global event, the side from Uganda has won the support of the vocal crowd at Christchurch arena on the back of three entertaining performances resulting in a loss to the FAST5 Ferns, victory over Jamaica and a heart-breaking loss to England late on day one.
Captain Joan Nampungu said they were loving the crowd support and were looking to add to their victory on day two when they meet Australia and South Africa.
“We are very happy for the crowd to be supporting us – we can feel the energy, we love you so very much and may it continue.”
Uganda head coach Fred Mugerwa said his players were enjoying their first time on the FAST5 international stage and promised they would be back.
“This will not be a first and last for Uganda netball. We want to be back next year and the year after – our game is growing, and we want to stay at the top.”
He said he was delighted with his team’s performance on day one of the tournament which included pushing the FAST5 Ferns in their opening game, picking up a win over Jamaica and heart-breaking loss after the buzzer against England.
“This is our first time and I’m pleased with how the girls are going. This is exciting for our team to be here, and we have high expectations.”
Spearheaded by the towering presence of shooter Mary Cholhok, Uganda gave the FAST5 Ferns a stern challenge in their first up game before falling away in the second half.
They won the first three quarters against Jamaica which set the foundations for an impressive 33-22 victory with Shadiah Nassanga sinking 13 of her 15 attempts at goal and defenders Joan Nampunga and Falidah Kadoni picking up 10 gains between them.
And hearts were broken in their last clash of the day when England pipped them with a six-point power play, Uganda going down 34-38.
It has been a big year for the side, finishing fifth at the Commonwealth Games to push them up the world rankings and earn their first invite to the Netball World Series.
They also played a three-match series against England before heading to Christchurch for the FAST5 tournament and Mugerwa believed their game was growing every time they stepped on court.
“At the moment we are pushing on. We have a few hinderances but if we can overcome those we can only get better.
“It gives us the chance to let our girls play the best teams from New Zealand, Australia, and England and if we can meet them more often it can only be better for our team. The girls we have here are very new but learning all the time.”
They will be eyeing up two more big opportunities on the international stage with matches against Australia and South Africa on Sunday.