London, Great Britain, – It didn’t take long for Uganda’s Josephine Nammanda and Alice Gitta Okecho to make an impression on the fans at Horse Guard’s Parade at the Visa FIVB Beach Volleyball International.
In a baptism of fire, the Ugandan pair lost 21-6, 21-8 to 2009 world champions Jennifer Kessy and April Ross, but won over the crowd with their whole hearted displays.
“We can’t say we are upset with how we played,” Nammanda said. “The name of the team and the name of the players gave us some fear. We were playing one of the world’s best teams and we had never before been to such a big event.
"We can’t say we played badly or played so well, because we didn’t know what to expect. We just came to do our best, which we did.”
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The duo are ranked 23rd out of 24 teams competing in Britain’s capital. As well as the United States team, they are in a pool with Canada’s Kacie MacTavish and Julie Rodrigue and Mari Liis Graumann and Anu Ennok from Estonia.
They are midway through their Olympic qualifying program, but remain confident that the lessons they learn at Horse Guard’s Parade will ensure they return for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
“We are preparing for London 2012,” Nammanda said. “We have qualified for the second round of Olympic qualifiers and we are hoping to put up stiff competition.
“Just coming here and playing the world’s best means we are learning such a lot about tactics and we will share it with other teams in Uganda. We are going to prepare so well and come 2012 I am sure we will make it back here."
photos Janos Schmidt