Watching cricket in Rwanda

Before leaving London a few months ago, I’d read an interesting article about cricket in Rwanda. It was the fastest growing sport in the country, matches were played on most weekends and a new stadium was being built in Kigali. I couldn’t find any fixtures online so I emailed the cricket board and was very chuffed to learn there was indeed a game on when we would be in town.

The brand new Gahanga International Stadium cost RwF950 m (£950,000) and took over a year to build with the work overseen by the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation (RCSF). The RCSF was founded in 2011 to promote reconciliation in Rwanda through the construction and management of the first international standard cricket ground in the country.

Always nervous that tickets may sell out for a sporting event, I asked whether I needed to buy tickets in advance or at the stadium. Granted that was very unlikely here and I was told that no tickets were even sold – what a treat! The flyer I’d been emailed noted it was a ‘Cambridge to Casablanca’ touring side vs. a Rwanda Select XI and when we first arrived there were more players than spectators!

The self-described UK social touring side had been in the country for a week and played a few local sides and the u19s. Today was the cup final – a T20 game against a Rwandan select XI that included a number of national players.

Meeting one of the Rwandan quicks

The stadium is really lovely with an immaculately manicured outfield, grass embankments and a little ‘stand’ with a bar. It was also a beautifully sunny day for cricket … Catherine’s debut game!

The select XI were batting first and they got off to a steady start. Despite losing wickets at regular intervals, they kept the scoring at around seven per over before a huge 24-run penultimate over propelled them to 159.
The Rwandan select XI were batting first

In response, the touring side lost their best batsmen in the first over before a 70-run partnership brought them right back into it.  They then lost a few quick wickets and looked out of it before a number of sublime cameos from the lower order saw them needing 14 off the last over. With a no ball from the first delivery it was 13 off six and it came down to the last ball with four still needed. Number XI could manage just a single and the Rwandans had held on for a two run victory.

Touring side in to bat
It was a really fun day and so good to be watching some cricket. It’s wonderful experience for the Rwandans, especially when it’s a tight game and a pressure situation, and I sincerely hope more sides tour and cricket continues to grow. Nelson Mandela firmly believed that sport had the power to unite a nation and I couldn’t agree more.

Leave A Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *