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Cricket builds hope in Rwanda

PROGRESS: The Rwanda Cricket facility

NEXT MONTH the Rwanda Cricket Stadium will be officially opened.

In 2011, the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation (RCSF) was founded in memory of Christopher Shale to promote reconciliation in Rwanda through the construction and management of the first international standard cricket ground in the Rwandan capital, Kigali.

The not-for-profit stadium, which is due to be completed in October, will operate a sport for all policy to ensure Rwandans from all backgrounds can have access to the country’s fastest growing sport. The intention was never to create a cricket stadium in the conventional sense but to build a unique platform for promoting reconciliation.

The multi-purpose facility will include an international standard cricket ground and a pavilion with restaurant, meeting rooms, bar and free HIV-testing facilities.

Upon completion of the stadium, RCSF will transition from a construction project to a charity called Cricket Builds Hope (CBH); an initiative that will use cricket as a vehicle for social change. Through its network of ambassadors, Cricket Builds Hope will leverage the power of cricket to educate, inspire, and mobilise people in developing countries to overcome their greatest challenges and be agents for change in their communities.

STAR PERFORMER: West Indies legend Lara

The stadium will be officially opened on October 28 by a senior minister from the Rwandan government as part of a week of events to celebrate the completion of the project (October 23 - 29).

The highlight of the week will be a T20 match between a Rwanda XI captained by RCSF patron Brian Lara and an All Stars XI led by fellow patron Michael Vaughan. England’s Sam Billings and former South Africa bowler Makhaya Ntini are the most recent stars to be confirmed to be taking part.

Cricket began in Rwanda in wake of the 1994 genocide following the return of thousands of Rwandans that had spent decades in exile in English-speaking, cricket-playing countries such as Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

In 1999, a small number of former exiles founded the Rwanda Cricket Association (RCA), and in 2003 Rwanda became an Affiliate Member of the International Cricket Council.

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