By Norbert Abii
Ivan Kakande’s champions have won the coveted Girls’ Schools Cricket Tournament their way – and now celebrate what is most likely to be the first of many more championship honors to come their way.
Olila High School and Soroti Light SSS made it to the finals of the 2019 Girls’ Schools Cricket tournament in spectacular fashion dumping Gayaza High and defending Champions Jinja SSS at the semi-final stage to make history for the tournament with Olila taking the honors at the end.
Recently crowned Olila High lost to Jinja SSS in the 2018 edition of the tournament but coach Ivan Kakande walked away with his head held high for he knew it was only a matter of time. Fast forward to 2019 and the head coach of the Soroti Cricket Academy managed to field two teams in the final, a feat no one thought possible three years ago.
So, what sparked this remarkable turn of events? The answer lies in Kakande’s comment.
We walked together, worked hard, and executed our plans. It was all about how we stayed together and built ourselves from the ground up to get to where we are now.
In comparison to last year, the teams greatly improved, both in the bowling and batting departments, with every match and never stopped believing in their abilities. They both went on to win all their games in their respective groups, the semi-finals, and set up an all-Soroti final that saw Olila High emerge as champions with Soroti Light putting up one spirited fight till the very end.
Their story has been that of a transformation from virtual no-hopers to title winners in a space of about three years and it is all thanks to the hand work the coaches at the Soroti Cricket Academy have put in.
The Soroti Cricket Academy factor
The purpose of the academy right from its inception was to introduce cricket in the region, as well as teach the game to the vast numbers of students in the various schools in and around Soroti. This has been a major success with the academy going on to grow and become a one of a kind force to recon with.
Their story has been one of accomplishment with the academy producing two ladies’ teams (Olila High CC and Soroti Challengers CC), both playing in division one of the ladies’ national league. They also have a boys’ team (Soroti Blazers CC), currently in division three of the men’s national league.
It is no surprise that the ladies who play for the clubs are no different from those playing for their schools. Coupled with the experience of playing alongside national team players such as Janet Mbabazi, Rachael Ntono, Damalie Busingye, Naomi Kayondo and the skipper Kevin Awino, the girls have been able to pick a thing or two from their seniors and embed it to their schools’ playing styles.
The success of the academy is not only in the number of competitive teams they have in the respective leagues, but in the hunger to better themselves as individuals, cricketers and a single unit with a sole purpose of being one of the best cricketing regions in the country.
It is with such work that Felix Musana and cohorts that the region is fast developing into a cricketing powerhouse. The hard work put into the teams is evident in not only how both Soroti Light SSS and Olila High School made it to the finals, but in how both teams managed to dispose of the defending champions Jinja SSS with ease.
For Olila High, it was a 23 run victory at the Ndejje grounds on day one, and for Soroti Light SS, it was a 6 wicket victory at the semi-final stage. Both teams fit the billing of tournament favorites and rightly so as the final was like no other that provided much entertainment and awe to many of the cricket lovers present.
Soroti as a region will continue to grow in the sport and this is just the beginning of an era that will see the winds of change blow from the far east to bring about vast improvements in the game we have all come to love.