SARAH AGENO is one of the most sought-after forwards in the National Basketball League (NBL). The UCU Lady Canons skipper, whose main strength lies in defence and is also versatile on court made her first national appearance for the Uganda Gazelles in 2015, as she told Fred Hidula.
In her childhood, Ageno played netball until 2010 while in Senior Three when she picked interest in basketball. She was inspired by her siblings Richard Oketcho and Lakers Jacquline while at St Micheal Secondary School.
The two were on the school team at the time, and sometimes trained with Ageno especially during the holidays. While in Senior Four, she got a full sports scholarship that has lasted throughout her entire education.
Ageno won her maiden NBL title with the Lady Canons in 2015 before getting more in 2016 and 2017. She was part of the cream team that steered the Lady Canons to many titles. The team comprised stars such as Vilma Achieng, Ritah Imanishimwe, Zainah Lokwameri Angellah, Judith Nansobya, and Rachael Muwanguzi, among others.
This only motivated her to yearn for more glory as her team reached the 2018 league finals despite losing to the JKL Lady Dolphins. Lokwameri describes her current captain as an aggressive figure on court who has maturity and composure.
“She is a motivating leader as well,” Lokwameri adds. In January, Ageno took part in the 3×3 FASU games in Nairobi, wining gold with the Lady Canons. Ageno also participated in the Gazelles side as they represented Uganda at the FIBA 3×3 World Cup qualifiers from May 4 to 5 in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in the Caribbean Island, where the team finished in the quarter finals. The team also included Ritah Imanishimwe, Jamila Nansikombi and Claire Lamunu.
Joining the Lady Canons
While playing for Crane High School in the National Basketball Schools’ Championships in Mbarara in 2012, Ageno was spotted by the then Director of Student Affairs (DOSA) of UCU and Coach Okello Boniface aka Oxy. Later on, the duo approached her parents and agreed on a contract.
“I was signed and joined the Lady Canons in 2014 with full tuition and meals catered for,” she recalls. Meanwhile, Crane High School had just qualified for the top flight league, meaning she had some experience and together with Rita Imanishimwe, a close friend and former teamate, they joined their new club. It only took them a season to fit in before their fruits on court started yielding the following year.
Her biggest challenge this season is matching up as a centre player/big man since there is a vacuum in the team despite being a natural forward. Ageno reveals that as club captain, there is always pressure that comes with leading colleagues and academics.
However, she always develops a timetable for each activity. Emmanuel Kiguyi, the Lady Canons coach, describes Ageno as an intriguing player. “It took her time to find her stride but once she did, she has never looked back,” says Kiguyi. “Each year she keeps on adding a different skill to her game hence growing her game daily.”
Ageno plans on playing for a few more years, although she prefers a new challenge abroad. This, she believes, would happen after she completes her education and a well-established team knocking on the door for her services. Background The 23-year-old fifth born of nine was born and raised by Jackson and Beatrice Ochaya of Kitgum, northern Uganda. She attended Tara primary school from Primary One to Primary Five before completing from Kiwuliriza Primary School. Ageno attended St Lawrence Horizon in 2008 for her Senior One and Two before moving on to St Michael High School for Senior Three and Four.
She completed A-level from Crane High School before joining Uganda Christian University (UCU) in 2014 for a fully sponsored Diploma in Child Development and Children’s Ministry. Upon completion in 2016, she pursued a Bachelor’s degree in the same course under scholarship.
Currently, she is in her third year. Ageno, who has won many other accolades, praises her coaches, Emmanuel Kiguyi and Nicholas Natuhereza for the endless support rendered towards her career. “Coach Kiguyi is a developing and motivating coach while Natuhereza is a good listener and team builder,” she says.