2023 Netball World Cup: It is starting to feel like a dream – Hanisha Muhammed

Hanisha Muhammed holds onto posession during a She Cranes training session at Kamwokya

NETBALL 2023 Netball World Cup: It is starting to feel like a dream – Hanisha Muhammed

Clive Kyazze 18:25 - 12.06.2023

For any athlete representing your country on the biggest stage is the ultimate goal, regardless of the success you have garnered elsewhere. And She Cranes goalkeeper /shooter Hanisha Muhammed is no different.

Muhammed is part of the She Cranes squad of 20 currently in camp preparing for the 2023 Netball World Cup in South Africa, Cape Town.

And just like majority of the players on the team, if she makes the cut, the KCCA player will be going to her first World Cup.

“It is everything, It was never a dream, but it is starting to feel like a dream; it is everything,” Muhammed told Pulse Sports before adding.

“It means a whole lot. I constantly tell people you can only express that feeling of presenting your country if you have been in that position.”

“All the players are excited to have this opportunity. It is 20 players right now, and the most important thing is being part of the 15 representing the country,” she added.

Give me the ball: She Cranes goalkeeper / goal shooter Hanisha Muhammed asks for the ball during training at Kamwokya

Muhammed also noted: “The tension is getting tough; some players are getting excited, but it is getting tougher and more challenging.”

“Especially now that the coach is about to name the 15 players. It is tough, but we are focusing.”

“The 15 players that will be chosen will represent this country with so much honour, discipline, respect and dignity, which is the most important thing. It is the World Cup, and we are ready for it.”

The first World Cup on African soil is less than 50 days away, and the She Cranes have been putting in the shift at three different venues.

From the Kamwokya Sports Complex to the Africa Bible University and now the Indoor Stadium in Lugogo, fine tuning their abilities has been the focus.

“The focus is on the technicalities of the game, and the more game situations, the more we get better,” the former UCU player said after a practice game against the men’s national team, The Rock, on Monday afternoon.

“Such games improve us, help us master our combinations, we get to know who can play with who and at the end of the day, execution is the most important thing.”

Muhammed was initially a goal shooter, but She Cranes coach Fred Mugerwa converted her into a goalkeeper of late; she trains in both positions.

A tough challenge she is embracing: “It is extremely tough, especially when the coach expects a lot from you. I have been a goalkeeper for some time, and I have to switch and shoot; it is difficult.”

She Cranes head coach Fred Mugerwa converted Muhammed from a goalshooter into a goalkeeper

“The positions are way different, and the expectations are high; it is tough for me, but I am trying to push myself, and the coaches constantly remind me of certain things that I need to do well to perform at a high level,” Muhammed highlighted.

Uganda will be going to her fourth World Cup and their third straight, but the side has only two survivors from four years ago, Mary Nuba and Stellah Nampungu.

Muhammed is one of the five survivors from the team that played at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, the others being now captain Irene Eyaru, Margaret Bagala, Norah Lunkuse and Shaffie Nalwanja.

She says it is an experience they are taking to the World Cup: “Playing at the Commonwealth Games allowed some of us to play against the best netball players in the world.”

“Such a stage prepares you for the World Cup because of the experience you pick there, and we hope to apply that at the world stage.”

Also missing on the team is the captain from the last two World Cups, Peace Proscovia, who pulled out of this edition for personal reasons; the others are experienced Joan Nampugu, Sandra Nabirige, Stella Oyella and Jessica Achan.

Hanisha Muhammed during a passing drilling at the kamwokya Sports Centre

“We will miss them a lot, especially Peace Proscovia; we will miss her leadership; she is such a great leader. What she brings to the team and what she had before is commendable, and we will miss out on that.

“Even the others, Joan, Achan, and Oyella, have a alot of experience But the most important thing; is that the coaches are trying to focus on the players that are present. They are doing a great job,” noted the 6ft 3in player.

Ranked eighth in the World, Uganda will come against world number New Zealand, Trinidad and Tobago (11th) and Singapore (27th); Muhammed says they study their opponents as a team.

“We try as much as we can to watch a few games, I have watched alot of the New Zealand League, and I am comfortable with the players and aware of what they can do.”

“Their style of play is different from our style of play. We must have such knowledge; otherwise, you can be shocked.”

At their previous world cup appearances, Uganda finished 13th in 1979, eighth in 2015 and seventh in 2019; Muhammed and company will be hoping to better that once the 2023 edition gets underway on July 28 in Cape Town.

Uganda’s World Cup Fixture

July 28: Singapore

July 29: New Zealand

July 30: Trinidad and Tobago

The squad of 20 in the residential camp

Shooters: Christine Kango Namulumba (Prisons Netball Club), Mercy Batamurinza (KCCA), Asinah Kabendela (Weyonje), Irene Eyaru (KCCA), Shadia Nassanga (KCCA), Mary Nuba Cholhok (Loughborough Lightning - UK)

Midcourt Players: Margaret Baagala (NIC), Joyce Nakibuule (Prison), Sarah Nakiyunga (NIC), Lunkuse Norah (KCCA), Annet Najjuka (KCCA), Lillian Achola (Weyonje)

Defenders: Faridah Kadondi (Weyonje), Hanisha Muhammed (KCCA), Christine Nakitto (KCCA), Privas Kayeny (NIC), Stella Nanfuka (Prisons), Viola Asingo (Prisons), Shaffie Nalwanja (KCCA), Christine Nakitto(KCCA) and Shakirah Nassaka (Weyonje)