New grounds to be built
Through their annual visits, the CWB volunteers have engaged with people of all ages, either as players or coaches, and have left a legacy of 136 coaches who continue their work after the project is complete.
Slowly but surely, through joint efforts between the CWB and Rwandan cricket authorities, participation among the young is starting to soar. The national team now plays in the third division of the International Cricket Council Africa and won the Division Three championship in 2011, defeating the Seychelles.
As for crossing gender bias, last year the U19 girls’ team beat Kenya, the regional cricketing powerhouse.
Many of those who are now slowly beginning to represent their country at a professional sporting level have been coached by CWB volunteers, something co-founder Ed Williams says he is very proud of. “One of the things we try to do at CWB is give young people the opportunity to improve their lives through cricket. In 2008 we taught some young adults how to play and then how to coach. This was the first time many had ever picked up a bat, including Don [de Dieu Mugisha] who is now one of the leading players in Rwanda and real future star for cricket in East Africa.” He adds, “I’ll never forget the moment Don came up to me and said, ‘You were the first person to ever hand me a cricket bat’. So sport really can transform lives.”
And it looks as though Rwanda’s professional cricketers may soon be playing international tournaments at world-class facilities as The Rwanda Cricket Stadium Association has signed a lease finally to move away from the grounds of the Kicukiro College of Technology. The hope is for the first phase of construction to start next year, and with 2014 being the 20th anniversary of the genocide, it’s a poignant move.