Women in Uganda have represented their country worldwide on different professional levels and many have brought glory home. Nowadays women in sports are everywhere – when you go to football, swimming, basketball and all the other games, you will find them. Many strong women have represented and put Uganda on another level internationally. Women like Judith Ayaa, who was the first female to win a bronze medal, Halima Nakaayi, Peace Proscovia, and many others.
Most of these women embarked on using online platforms in order to reach all parts of the world and showcase their talents. Among these, there is a professional footballer Jean Sseninde, founder of the Sseninde foundation, who currently plays for Wakefield Trinity L.F.C a United Kingdom-based Football Club and she has used her media platform pages, for example, her Facebook page as a way to find new talent and empower women in sports. Sseninde has promoted many talented players such as Rebecca Morris who have joined national teams that participate in both local and international leagues.
“Many girls reach out to me through their social media pages, these include Facebook, Instagram and others. And we always give them a chance to compete in the Ssenide Cup where many clubs choose new players”
Sseninde has a number of followers, for instance on her Instagram she has up to 3,681 followers, on Facebook 29,120 followers. With such a follow on her social media pages, she is able to reach many people around the world. Her pages feature a lot of community engagements, the different achievements she has reached, she encourages young ladies to develop their talents and puts out different opportunities young girls could take advantage of. She joined digital life in 2013 while playing for the London Phoenix Sports club. She felt it was the best way to market her talent to the world. Here she joined Facebook as her first online experience and has then widened to other sites.
Despite the fruits that the digital world has brought, Ssenide adds that she finds challenges from the ideology that most people have in society about women in sports. She adds that many people always ask why she does not act like how women are supposed to and leave the football game to the men. But because she believes that there are many other women out there whose talents are being suppressed, she uses media and online platforms to reach out and help those she can through the different team sessions that are held in different parts of the country.
Many of the male sportsmen like Denis Onyango, Emmanuel Okwi and many others have a very big following of more than 53.6K and post the same things, like awards won, community engagements and other activities. When we spoke to some of the followers of sportsmen like Denis Onyango on why they would opt to follow male sportsmen than women, they said that men have more competition in their sport and always share a lot more information about the sport than the ladies.
Clive Kyazze, a sports media practitioner and founder of Football 256, an online newspaper says that women are not given a lot of audience because of the traditional understanding that women are not meant to play men’s games. He furthermore stretches the point that the media has played its role in promoting and protecting these ladies but the real work comes back down to their managers. Most of these people have turned a deaf ear on the things that have affected these sports ladies, if you are to give an example of the 3 athletes that were sexually harassed by their coach in 2014. They came out to the media, used all digital platforms so that they are heard and helped. This case was handled and the people responsible were handled by the law. Clive says that the media tries to cover as many women sports as possible, though there are very few female tournaments that take place because of a lack of sponsorship.
Going digital is the new way and the future for all women, be it sports ladies or not. These give a wide platform and they enable voices to be heard from all corners of the world. Ladies should equip themselves with these skills and knowledge in order to compete and have a say in this digital world.