Babirye opens up on stepping aside, sexual harassment

Babirye was asked to step down as UNF president. Courtesy Photo

NETBALL Babirye opens up on stepping aside, sexual harassment

Moses King 15:49 - 25.04.2023

Embattled Uganda Netball Federation boss Sarah Babirye Kityo maintains that she is the head of the body.

Babirye was asked to step down from office following a high-level meeting at State House, Nakasero, chaired by First Lady Janet Kataha Museveni, the Minister of Education and Sports.

Also in attendance were representatives from the National Council of Sports, the netball federation and former players of the national team, the She Cranes.

The minister directed that deputy president Brigadier Flavia Byekwaso takes charge as interim President of the federation for the next three months.

In an interview with NBS Sport, Babirye says she only stood aside in good faith to allow investigations into the matter to come to a logical conclusion.

"I am still the President of the federation. Brigadier Byekwaso is my deputy, and we're working together. Even today, I have been with the girls (She Cranes) at their training grounds," Babirye noted.

"The investigation does not bar me from supporting the national team's preparations for the World Cup. If sponsors come on board to help us, I cannot reject to meet them."

Financial mismanagement

Babirye Sarah. Courtesy Photo

NCS accused UNF of failing to account for funds received for the series trip in 2021, which Uganda won.

Babirye insists on her innocence, saying the IGG and Auditor General have already cleared them.

"The Auditor General cleared us of every accusation NCS had against us. So those are two intuitions clearing us."

"I am ready to present documents. I give my accountability to NCS, but if they're not doing their part, that's not my fault."

She added that her accuser Dr Bernard Ogwel general secretary of the National Council of Sports was part of that trip.

Sexual harassment

She Cranes are back in the spotlight with the Netball World Cup soon at hand. Courtesy Photo.

In the meeting, reports of sexual harassment also surfaced by an alleged national team player. Babirye laughed off the accusations as mere politicking.

"This is now politics! I had never heard of such a thing in our offices. Have you been to our offices? The proximity alone can't allow such an act to occur!"

"The accusation came from a trained person, a Prisons officer! So you are a security person, and you can't defend yourself or make any alarm?"

"Why could she not report to the team coach, managers, the board or anyone else? If you can report the President, who then is untouchable?" Babirye asked.

She further dismissed that the 'so-called national players' who pinned her at the meeting are former players.

"Why is it that those complaining are not on the national team? The national team is not a permanent and pensionable position."

"Players come and go based on their form, performance and discipline," added the former member of parliament.

She Cranes World Cup preparations

Babirye says she is confident that the national team will not be affected by the ongoing situation.

Babirye during happier times. Courtesy Photo

"I want the fans to know that the national team preparations for the World Cup are moving on as we await funds."

" What is happening is a clean-up process for the challenges we've had for a long time. We are allocated money, but we never see it," Babirye clarified.

Her fate

Babirye says the investigation can only prescribe solutions on the way forward.

"The federation will call for a general assembly and decide on the course of action."

Uganda also won the right to host the Africa Netball Cup this year.