For some years now, the Rwanda Cricket Association has been involved in an ambitious program to introduce cricket in schools, in a drive to develop young talent and thus improve the quality of the national players.
Although cricket is still a young sport in Rwanda, it is already well established with a fully-fledged national league. Part of the explanation for this is that the Rwanda Cricket Association (RCA) is making great efforts to attract young players to the game. The Association has elaborated a comprehensive program to introduce the sport in primary and secondary school, which has been running since 2005.
Until now, the RCA had to rely mainly on donations of equipment from sympathizers, and most recent from the International Cricket Council (ICC). Therefore, the Association embarked on a 5-year development plan 2005-2009, with a view to identify and specify specific items that might be financed by potential sponsors. There will be continuous reviews to the plan to ensure success for the game of cricket in Rwanda.
Another aspect which makes the school program so important is the fact that to date, the Association has largely depended on the National University of Rwanda in Butare for players, as students mainly from the neighboring countries such as Kenya and Uganda have played cricket since a long time and have been able to organize themselves to play in the national cricket league and to invite local and international clubs.
For this reason, the RCA had organized in November 2004 a holiday clinic for secondary school students, led by Ugandan coach William Kamanyi and sponsored by ICC Africa. Participating schools were Ecole Secondaire Kicukiro, Apred Ndera, Apade Kicukiro, Fawe girl's school, Ape Rugunga and Group Scolarie de Butare.
Charles Haber, the president of the Rwanda Cricket Association, say that the association is in great need of equipment for these institutions. Therefore, he says, a program was set up to acquire used material from abroad and from generous individuals. Some kits have already been donated by the ICC's Africa Development Manager, Hoosain Ayob, which have been used at the clinic and have been made available to coaches going to the schools.
Lots of equipment needed
Under the school program, the Association wants to introduce cricket in at least one new school every year; make available some sets of equipment to every school in the program every year; encourage schools to provide playing fields for cricket; conduct coaching clinics in all schools involved every year by using both local and foreign coaches; to provide overseas training in coaching for a school master or senior player every year so that local expertise to help develop the game; and encourage inter-school visits.
Local clubs will also get involved in the promotion of good players, by offering them a place in their team, and help to set up more clubs so that all players that come out of the program will find a place in a team.
Moreover, the RCA will organize inter-school tournaments and matches, as well as an annual national school tournament; invite foreign teams to play with school teams; and ensure greater media coverage.
RCA president Haber says that every school of the six that will be part of the first phase of the program, will require to have 3 pairs of batting pads, 2 sets of stumps, 3 pairs of batting gloves, 1 pair of wicket keeping gloves, 3 bats, 6 used and 6 new cricket balls, 2 helmets, 3 abdominal guards and 1 cricket mat. Obviously, this is much more than what donors normally offer, so the Association
will look for assistance from international organizations such as the ICC.
Given that the number of local sponsors is limited, the RCA will largely depend on its senior players to go on coaching visits to the schools. However, it will still seek assistance form the ICC for some foreign coaches to visit Rwanda for a period of up to two months every year.
Charles Haber stresses that the ICC coaching fund is currently considered as the main prospect and must be fully explored.