Africa: 2021 - a Year When Rwanda Became Africa's Sports Events Hub

Kenya Morans' Albert Odero (right) dribbles past Ivory Coast's Nisire Mimi Zouzous during their Fiba Afrobasket Championship match at the Kigali Arena on August 25, 2021.
13 December 2021

DESPITE the inconveniences caused by Covid-19 across the world, Rwanda, in 2021, positioned itself as one of Africa's major destinations for sports events.

The country's efforts to improve its sports facilities, coupled with a reputation for Covid-secure events among other factors like cleanliness and safety saw it attract big continental tournaments.

Times Sport brings you a recap of the top 6 sports competitions that the country hosted.

The Basketball Africa League (BAL)

In May, history was made as Rwanda hosted the inaugural season of the BAL, an elite continental club championship affiliated to the USA's National Basketball Association (NBA).

Held at the Kigali Arena, the competition saw 12 clubs from 12 different African countries taking part.

Besides bringing a number of celebrities like former NBA players Dikembe Mutombo and Joakim Noah, the showpiece was characterised by a number of unforgettable experiences including Patriots Basketball Club's great performances that saw them reach the semi-finals.

Sports investors like Wesley Roberts Edens, the co-owner of NBA side Milwaukee Bucks, as well as politicians, notably Presidents Paul Kagame and France's Emmanuel Macron also graced the tournament.

After two weeks of action, Egypt's Zamalek Sporting Club won the title after beating Tunisia's US Monastir 76-63 during the finals.

The FIBA Afrobasket 2021

Rwanda also hosted the FIBA Afrobasket 2021 tournament, a men's basketball continental championship for African nations.

Looked at as the biggest basketball event for national teams in Africa, the competition tipped off on August 24, at the Kigali Arena and concluded on September 5.

It attracted 16 teams, ranging from the usual powerhouses like Senegal and Tunisia, to smaller ones like Kenya and Rwanda.

Tunisia won the title, and became the first team to win back-to-back Afrobasket titles since Angola in 2009.

Africa Men's Volleyball Championship

Rwanda became the first country in the East African region to host the Africa men's volleyball championship.

Tunisia defended their title in Kigali after beating Cameroon 3-1 in the finals.

Africa Women's Volleyball Championship

The continental volleyball championship in the women's category also took place in Kigali, in September.

Nine countries competed in the tournament: Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Morocco, Senegal, Burundi, DR Congo, Tunisia and Rwanda.

Unfortunately, Rwanda was disqualified from the competition after having been found guilty for fielding ineligible players.

The International Federation for Volleyball (FIVB) ruled that Rwanda be banned from the competition and previous games forfeited for flouting rules.

FIBA Women's Afrobasket Zone 5 Qualifiers

Rwanda also hosted the FIBA Women's Afrobasket Zone 5 qualifiers.

During the competition that took place in July, Kenya booked a ticket to the 2021 Women's Afrobasket finals after beating Egypt 99- 83 in the final.

The Beach Volleyball World Tour Star 2

Still in July, Rwanda hosted the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) Beach Volleyball World Tour Star 2 in Rubavu District.

Teams from the United States won the titles in both the men's and women's categories.

Theo Brunner/Chaim Schalk triumphed in the men's category, while Emily Day/Sara Hughes claimed the trophy in the women's.

Rwanda hosts 4 ICC cricket World Cup Africa Qualifiers

Rwanda was this year given the hosting rights for the four of the five Africa Regional Qualifying tournaments including the U-19 Men's Cricket World Cup Africa Qualifier that took place from September 28 to October 7 and the ICC Men's T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier held from November 15-20.

All the four tournaments cost ICC over Rwf 900 million which according to tournaments' coordinator Emmanuel Byiringiro, were spent in accommodating teams, transportation, regular testing of covid-19 for players, team delegates and organisers among others.

Uganda's starlets qualified for the 2022 ICC U-19 World Cup in West Indies while the country's senior team also secured a ticket to the ICC T20 World Cup Global Qualifiers slated in February next year after last weekend's hard-fought victory over Kenya by six wickets.

On top of securing qualification, the Ugandan team also bagged $ 80 000.

Meanwhile, Rwanda has struggled to challenge for a ticket from any of the three qualifying tournaments they participated in, despite hosting the majority of the World Cup Qualifiers including the ICC Women's T20 World Cup Africa Qualifier held in Namibia from September 7-20, U-19 Men's Cricket World Cup Africa Qualifier and ICC Men's T20 Sub Regional World Cup Qualifier Group A, both held in Kigali.

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