Kampala — In 2019, the Uganda Ladies team dared to dream differently enroute to edging Tanzania 1-0 to claim the bragging rights as Africa 5s champions.
But with the Covid-19 pandemic coming into play, the 2020 edition was never possible and such is the same 'regrettable' scenario after the facilitators announced that this year's edition of the Nile Special 5s Football Tournament has been deferred to 2022.
Team cohesion might be a tough ask for the line-up that comprised of goalkeeper Vanessa Karungi, Brenda Nabisalu, Wilmer Nantumbwe, Sarah Namulindwa, Brenda Makanga and captain Memory Nampijja but in this post Covid-19 era with several restrictions on travel and social gatherings still in place, the safety-first option has come into play.
Scourge of Covid-19
"We take the utmost care for consumers, staff and participants in all that we do. Given the current climate, as the country continues to battle against the scourge of Covid-19, we felt it best to hold off on moving forward with the tournament this year," said Nile Special brand manager Francis Nyende.
As the men's team found the going tough, the ladies defeat pre-tournament favourites South Africa 2-1 via a tense penalty shoot-out with goalkeeper Karungi saving two penalties to qualify for the semifinals, then humiliated Ghana 3-0 with Nantumbwe netting a brace bfore overcoming an invitational Tanzanian side 1-0 in the final with skipper Nampijja the heroine.
Bigger return in 2022
The reward was to travel with former Cameroon captain and Africa legend Samuel to the Camp Nou, home of Spanisa La Liga giants Barcelona, to watch the El Clasico.
The funders of the event know the pain that lies therewithin whilst many teams wait and have vowed to make the wait worthwhile.
"Public gatherings are prohibited at this time as they pose a great threat to the public in their ability to be super spreaders of the virus.
And since we want people to come together in their numbers to enjoy the incredible experience that is the annual Africa 5's league, we had to hold off for this year and focus our efforts on protecting our consumers," Nyende added.
Not all is lost though, all received entries from teams who wished to participate in the League in 2020, will gain automatic promotion into the tournaments as soon as it is safe to proceed.
Entrants will also be the first to be notified by Nile Special should anything change regarding the tournament and its entries.