Before writing this week’s piece, a lot of procrastination came into play mainly cause i contemplated on what to write, the Kenyan sevens team reached new heights, the much anticipated NBA playoffs took shape and Leicester city continued their run at the top of the English premier league. At the end of it all, i went with neither.
I’ve been following the story of Rwanda cricket with a lot of eagerness, inquisitiveness but mainly with love. Love for a sport that i not only grew up watching and playing but more so that it had only set foot in Rwanda. And in it’s wake so far are foot prints large enough for our “bigger,” disgruntled sports federations to follow.
(The Rwanda national team warm up up at the Binoni Willowmoore park in Johannesburg)
Unfortunately the national cricket team lost all four matches at the ICC division 2 T20 championships that ended yesterday but don’t be quick to shoot as there are many positives one could pick from those four losses.
As a child i was introduced to the sport at the age of six while at my primary school, Lohana Academy in Uganda. Predominantly a school with it’s roots in India, cricket was one of many Indian traditions that we seemed to enjoy on top of the extra public holidays due to the Diwali and the India independence day.
Cricket just like rugby is a sport that is mainly rooted in former British colonies like Uganda, Kenya and South Africa but having a large Asian population made it easy for continuity of the sport when the colonialists left.
Its almost impossible to name a cricket team world over without players of Asian origin in the national side and harder if it’s not a former British colony, fast forward Rwanda.
Rwanda is a former Belgian colony where the sport of cricket was introduced just 10 years ago. For it to send a team made of largely home grown players is almost unheard of even for the cricket power houses: New Zealand, South Africa, England, anyone??
(Moen Ali -left- and Imran Tahir -right- are of Pakistani descent but play for power houses England and South Africa respectively)
Fourteen of the fifteen players at the tournament were indigenous accounting for more than ninety percent of the team, now this should be reason enough to raise a glass. The Middle east is one place where the game is steadily growing but one would be left stone faced if asked to name a U.A.E or Oman team without a player of Indian descent.
In their four defeats, the team looked like they could chase the set scores or were in commanding position for half the time only to collapse later on an issue attributed to largely lack of experience. Majority of this squad only picked up a bat in the past five years and to see them come close against opponents that have played the game for majority of their livelihoods only tells of the talent and organization at hand.
(President of Rwanda Cricket stadium foundation Charles Haba at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ground in Kayonza)
With an average age of 24, the ongoing construction of new cricket infrastructure, very soon the sky might just become the point of view for Rwandan cricket.