By Pauline Buchayaya
Sandra Namusoke “Soki” is the Uganda National Women’s Hockey coach. Her love for the sport started while in senior two at Kings College Budo.
She has represented Uganda in East African Secondary School games (2009), played for Makerere Stingers from 2013-2015, and joined Kampala Hockey Club from 2012 to date.
Hockey, she says, has been and still is a part of her life even as she became the national coach. She recalls her first day as a coach and it was nerve-wracking.
She says it was terrifying as she stood in front of a group of women of various ages at hockey backgrounds, with the awareness that she was responsible for preparing them to stand on the world stage.
“I kept wondering what impression they would have of me and what they expected of me and so many thoughts went on in my head. Then I realized that this was a journey that involved me and my team, not me alone,” Namusoke says.
The most impactful experience for her as a player and coach was the African Cup for Club Championships in which she participating for the first time in 2014.
“The tournament showed me that I needed to improve on my level of skill to unprecedented heights if we were going to compete with other countries. It also exposed the glaring holes in our coaching styles and routines,” she says.
Her other outstanding achievement has been representing Uganda at the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
She says: “Knowing that I was part of a group of extraordinary women who placed the country on the world map was positively glorious.”
Beliefs and hobbies
Namusoke ensures to share her belief in Christ with the team. She encourages the women to pray and prays for them in turn.
“I encourage the practice of good Christian values, including love, kindness, friendship, the practices of service above self, above all keeping the unity of the Holy Spirit,” she says.
She also enjoys long journeys and trips.
She loves to read “a good book in a quiet place, no matter the genre”. Namusoke also loves music and food.
“Some of those artistes touch your soul through lyrics. I enjoy the music while am creating recipes because I love great food,” she says.
She says the most challenging factor in coaching is that the national team is made up of volunteers, both players and other coaches.
She says so often, players do not give their best performance and enforcing desired discipline can be difficult at times. This is because understandably, most of them are sacrificing.
She looks forward to a time when athletes are financially well facilitated and necessary tactics given to them in the utmost professional manner, befitting their level of talent.
She hopes to see athletes benefit maximally from their talents and dedication to the sport. She longs for a time where representing the country is not just a chore, but a privilege to those that are called.
Namusoke also looks forward to a time where the hockey talent pool is not just in Kampala but all over the country and believes that time will come.