Vaughan v Gibbs in Rwanda opener

The Cricket Paper - - FEATURE - By Ge­orge Jones

FOR­MER Eng­land cap­tain Michael Vaughan will open Rwanda’s first in­ter­na­tional cricket sta­dium this week­end.

It comes af­ter a ground­break­ing part­ner­ship be­tween Bri­tish char­ity Rwanda Cricket Sta­dium Foun­da­tion (RCSF), the Rwanda Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion and the Govern­ment of Rwanda.

The sta­dium, lo­cated in Ga­hanga, Kigali, will of­fi­cially open on Satur­day with a cel­e­bra­tory match be­tween two teams, one cap­tained by Vaughan and the other by South African Her­schelle Gibbs.

Kent’s Sam Billings will also be there as well as for­mer Kenya star Steve Tikolo. A tour­na­ment with eight teams from Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda and the UK has been run­ning through­out the week in Kigali and will con­clude on Sun­day at the new ground. Over 1,500 spec­ta­tors from Rwanda and the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity are ex­pected to at­tend.

RCSF was set up in mem­ory of Christo­pher Shale, a Bri­tish man who fell in love with Rwanda af­ter trav­el­ling to Kigali ten years ago. Shale dreamt of build­ing a proper ground for Rwan­dan crick­eters but died in 2011, be­fore he was able to carry out his plan. Shale’s son Alby, 27, be­came the project di­rec­tor two years ago and has been liv­ing in Kigali, de­ter­mined to ful­fil his fa­ther’s vi­sion.

Alby Shale, RCSF project di­rec­tor, said: “I am de­lighted that the sta­dium has now been fin­ished and Rwanda has a proper Home of Cricket in Kigali – the Lord’s of East Africa.

“We hope that the new ground will sup­port the de­vel­op­ment of the game in Rwanda, from the elite level to the grass­roots.We want as many Rwan­dans as pos­si­ble to have the op­por­tu­nity to play this won­der­ful sport.”

The iconic sta­dium has been de­signed by worldlead­ing ar­chi­tects, Light Earth De­signs. It in­cludes a pavil­ion con­sist­ing of three vaults made from 66,000 hand­made tiles us­ing only lo­cally sourced ma­te­ri­als. A com­bi­na­tion of 2,400 kilo­grams of Gyp­sum and 475 tons of re­in­forced steel has also been used.

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