Uganda a shoe-in for helping hand

The Ugandan team has been one of the stories of the Commonwealth Games, having knocked off Malawi and pushed England to within six goals in the tournament’s preliminary rounds.

But behind the scenes, their road to a sixth-place finish hit a major snag before the tournament even began.

After arriving on the Gold Coast the team’s netball shoes deteriorated rapidly in the Queensland conditions, making training and playing all but impossible.

“We had hiccup with the shoes,” Ugandan team manager Jocelyn Ucanda said.

“I think because of the change of weather, the shoes kept on expanding and it was not possible for us to use them for such a competitive game.”

But the team was not left wanting.

Netball Australia partner Asics stepped in and presented a pair of shoes to every player in the squad, ensuring they could take the court and compete on a level playing field with the other world-class teams.

Ucanda said the team was incredibly grateful for the gesture, which was yet another positive experience for the team on Australian shores, having previously visited for the World Cup in 2015.

“The Asics shoes came in handy. At the World Cup we used them and were able to finish world number eight. This time around we’ve used them and we’ve been able to finish at number six,” she said.

“We created a bond when we came to play World Cup in Sydney in 2015. We learnt a lot from Netball Australia and because of that bond they were able to help us with the shoes.”

“We’re very, very grateful to Asics and to Netball Australia.”

The Ugandans finished sixth in the Commonwealth Games playoff rounds – the country’s best ever performance at a major tournament.