Editor: Brenda Mwaniki

By Ariel Okall

There is a path for women to be who they wish to be. When women are empowered the world becomes, by far, a better place. To all the women out there, dare to dream. to all our female athletes, use the game as your voice, and a tool to carry you to where you dream of being. Let’s level the playing field.

We’ve dedicate this day to all the great women who have graced the beautiful game of basketball. Role models, mothers, sisters, and heroines in general. We spoke to a few sports women from around East Africa to understand first hand what female athletes can celebrate, improve, and focus on. What needs to be done and what has been accomplished.

Hilda Luvandwa- Kenya

Hilda Luvandwa (left) at the Afrobasket in Dakar. Photo courtesy FIBA

“There are various programs around women’s basketball that are creating awareness. The Women Empowerment League in Umoja, management training by NOC, coaching and refereeing clinics on going.
This is tremendous improvement compared to the situation five years ago.
However, I wouldn’t say the same for growth. There’s very little to none, evident from the fact that over the years the women’s league has almost been predictable. To secure a brighter future these activities need to be streamlined, How do we do that? We can start by playing ladies games during prime time for example Friday Night Basketball and Saturday afternoons. This will compel the players to want to give a good show.
We also need to have statistics for the sake of acknowledgment and rewarding iconic performances. There’s need to have more experienced women to help nuture the younger ones, especially on matters pertaining sports, education and work balance.
We also need more women’s tournaments organized by women. Most importantly, the boy child will always be in the picture, we can never ignore this fact. There’s the need to educate the boychild on how to live with the girl child. How to make the environment more conducive for growth.”

Angella Namirimu- Uganda

Angella Namirimu JKL Dolphins Uganda, photo courtesy score beyond

“We celebrate so much today in Uganda that seemed like a blurred vision a couple of years back. The women’s game has greatly grown in different aspects which has not only increased the competition among teams in the league but has also seen a good number spark interest and actually have growing fan bases.
Many women are also not shying away from leadership positions and various roles that were predominantly covered by men. They are mentoring younger girls in the game through organisations like Score Beyond. There are more female referees and officials and we have seen our Gazelles’ teams excel at different campaigns. There are many other tremendous women who continuously break barriers every opportunity they get.
We are still on the move to achieving greatness and though the process is gradual, we are glad we are not where we used to be. There is still alot of room for improvement and we will definitely get there.”

Orlyne Londo- Tanzania

Orlyne Londo Tanzania. Photo courtesy Basketball255

“Women’s basketball in Tanzania has progressed. Since 2016, the number of teams has increased thus improving the competition. We have schools recruiting young girls for scholarships. In Africa most parents don’t believe sports can open up opportunities and there is also the stereotype that sports is only for boys. This narrative is coming to an end and we can see progress in Tanzania.
In order to Improve the level of our basketball, we need more schools to embrace the game. Girls need to be introduced to basketball early. We also need sponsors who can add value to the game and inject financial resources into women’s basketball. This will heighten the level of motivation and attract more girls to play. We have to create an environment that is attractive to younger athletes so they can see that the game pays. We need more infrastructure and resources.
The Tanzanian National Basketball team needs a lot of work. We need to have a coach specifically for the women’s team. A coach who will scout and work with the team. We need national team camps to improve our game. Basketball leadership needs to invest more in women, especially in the national team. They need to put the team in a better position to succeed. Gradually Tanzania’s basketball will be back in the big stage in Africa. There is enough talent and it is only a matter of time.
Happy International Women’s Day.”

Mercine Milimu- Kenya

Mercine Milimu with Rt Hon Raila Odinga.

“Women’s Basketball in Kenya can be the best in the Zone, the region and in Africa. We as women in Kenya need to step out of our comfort zone and see ourselves as key stakeholders and not curtain raisers. Kenyan Basketball has already demystified gender in sports. It’s time for our game and skill set to grow in equal measure.”

Rosine Micomyza- Rwanda

Rosine Cisse Micomyza of Hoops Basketball Rwanda. Photo courtesy Ferwaba

“To empower women in basketball especially in the region, we must have more competition in Zone 5 which is the biggest and closest platform. There’s however much effort from individual countries. The Women’s Day tournaments usually have a theme that serves as an empowerment reckon. Kenya has a Women’s Commission within the federation which gives a voice to the ladies in basketball. A lot, however, can still be done to steer ladies’ basketball to greater heights.”

Cynthia Kaburundi- Burundi

Cynthia Irankunda Burundi. Photo courtesy Tsauba Stone

“Women’s basketball in my home country, Burundi, has been neglected over the years. The National team last took part in any international tournament in 2013. There are many talented girls in Burundi but they lack motivation, proper training, and exposure.
It’s my dream to play for the Burundian National team. I hope that one day our basketball federation will realize that Burundian women can also compete in East Africa and even have a chance at winning. We have many players outside the country who can play and they should be considered too.”

Rose Akon Chol- South Sudan

Akon Chol South Sudan. Photo courtesy Ferwaba

“Well I can’t say there has been any group progress regards to women basketball, reason being South sudan is a young country that recently just got her independence after a long time of struggle. Individual progress yes, South Sudanese women have made history like Sarah Chan being the first African woman scouting manager for the NBA 2019 champions Toronto Raptors, not to mention how dominant she was during her playing days. She has become a big symbol of hope to most young ladies in South Sudan, seeing that we can come from nothing to something.
Adut Bulgak being the first Sudanese WNBA player has been a big inspiration to most of us including myself. Seeing her play at that level is just incredible.
Back at home there isn’t any one yet who has really progressed with basketball due to issues such as gender inequality where women are denied opportunities to participate in sport. Cultural barriers like early marriages are hindering the growth of women’s basketball too.
We also need a National basketball league for women to be formed as quick as possible to enable girls to have a platform where they can showcase their talent.
Basketball facilities should be built in schools to encourage women to engage in the sport.
Women need to be educated more not only on the sport standpoint but also on the benefits this game can have in their lives.
We need more women who have progressed in this game to step forward and be role models to the young ladies of South Sudan. Am thankful to Sarah who has effortlessly done all it takes to motivate and nature some us 🙏🏾.
For the first time in history, the South Sudanese national women’s basketball team will participate in the up coming Afrobasket qualifiers. Talking about this brings me so much joy it’s a dream come true”

By Ariel Okall


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