Rwanda’s First International Cricket Stadium To Open on Saturday – The Lord’s Of East Africa
Rwanda’s first international standard cricket stadium will open on Saturday after a groundbreaking partnership between a British charity Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation, the Rwanda Cricket Association and the Government of Rwanda. The stadium, located in Gahanga, Kigali, will officially open on Saturday 28 October with a celebratory match between two teams captained by cricket legends, Englishman Michael Vaughan and South African Herschelle Gibbs.
Cricket has become one of the fastest growing sports in Rwanda, despite a shortage of adequate facilities. The stadium will provide a place for Rwandans of all ages to develop their cricket and implement these skills into their wider lives, as well as act as a vehicle to promote reconciliation.
The iconic 100 million RWF stadium has been designed by world-leading 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 resulted in a truly innovative stadium. The centrepiece of the opening ceremony will be a celebratory match on Saturday 28 October between teams led by former international captains, Michael Vaughan and Herschelle Gibbs, and featuring international stars such as Sam Billings and 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 1500 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. I want to thank everyone who has helped us get to this point, including our incredibly generous donors and corporate partners, the RCA and the Rwandan government.”
Following the culmination of the tournament, RCSF will become ‘Cricket Builds Hope’, a social action project that uses cricket to benefit the Rwandan community. Working with local government, Cricket Builds Hope has begun developing programmes speci?cally designed to help disadvantaged women and girls in Gahanga. These programmes are expected to be active in early 2018.