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New broom sweeps through Rwandan cricket

Tue, Jan 17, 2012 9:55 AM

New broom sweeps through Rwandan cricket
Exciting times lie ahead for cricket in Rwanda with plans underway to build the country's first cricket stadium.

The Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation (RCSF) is an off-shoot of Project Umubano (meaning 'friendship'), a social action project that has been volunteering in healthcare, education, sport and the private sector in Rwanda since 2007.

The idea of building a cricket stadium came from a Brit, Christopher Shale, who sadly passed away in July 2011, but the RCSF was set up as his legacy, overseen by his sons Alby and Edo and with British PM David Cameron and BBC Cricket Correspondent Jonathan Agnew among the patrons.

Managing Director Oli Broom has already made himself known to cricket fans as someone who likes a challenge, after cycling from Lord's to Brisbane for the start of the 2010/11 Ashes series.

Covering 15,500 miles and cycling through 23 countries, the 31-year-old raised £75,000 for The Lord's Taverners and the British Neurological Research Trust.

The Englishman has now up-rooted to Kigali in Rwanda for what promises to be an exciting project for the country as a whole.

Broom says: "I will implement the creation of our foundation in Rwanda, before sourcing land, helping to raise funds and constructing the ground. Perhaps the most important aspect of my role will come once the ground is complete. We intend to run the facility as a commercial operation, with all profits invested into the development of cricket in Rwanda."

An Affiliate ICC member since 2003, Rwandan cricket has made good progress since then despite limited resources. Their junior sides have regularly out-performed expectations, with the girls' team recently finishing fourth out of 10 in a tournament held in Tanzania for central and east African sides.

There are over 2,000 regular cricketers in the country with another 3,000 also playing the game at primary schools, secondary schools, universities and tertiary institutions such as orphanages.

Having tried, unsuccessfully, to hold international tournaments in the past, Rwanda's chances of hosting competitions would be greatly strengthened by its first purpose-built stadium.

Broom reveals that prospect could become a reality as soon as next year.

"It depends how quickly we are able to acquire land," he explains. "Assuming all goes to plan, we hope that cricket will be played at the ground from July 2013, although the wider facilities will take us towards the end of 2013. Stage two of the project is to include other sports facilities, and this will take longer."

Broom saw at first hand during his 'Cycling To The Ashes' trip exactly how cricket can be used in a positive manner. It is those experiences that have fuelled his enthusiasm in taking on another project using sport to enhance the lives of individuals.

"Having played cricket in 20 countries over the past three years," he notes, "on a basic level I saw that people love to smash a ball as far as they can with a piece of wood. But I have also seen the uniting effect it can have - one only needs to walk the streets of Mumbai or Hyderabad after the Indian cricket team has won to see this. It is also a very inclusive game, with strong educational potential - great for kids who can learn patience, individual responsibility within a team framework, rules etc. I suppose all sport plays an important role in a country's development."

For more information on the Rwanda Cricket Stadium Foundation please

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