KIGALI: Rwanda’s first cricket stadium was inaugurated Saturday by President Paul Kagame as a permanent home for developing the sport in the country.
Gahanga Cricket Stadium in the capital Kigali is built on a 4.5 hectare (11 acre) ground and cost $1.3 million (1.1 million euros), the majority of the funds raised by international cricket players eager to see the game take off in Rwanda.
The Rwandan Cricket Stadium Foundation was set up by Alby Shale, the son of a late British politician and cricket lover who visited Rwanda to do aid work.
“We are very happy to have this cricket pavilion and ground built, and by that, we remember Christopher Shale, in whose memory this has been built,” Kagame said at the opening.
“It is a great pleasure for us to have this facility which will see more young men and women playing and improving their skills. It is also good for us to have partners in the United Kingdom,” he said.
Eric Dusingizimana, the national team captain, helped raise funds for the stadium by setting a Guinness World Record by batting for 51 hours straight last year.
“This is an exciting development for us and the younger generation is going to benefit heavily from this,” said the 31-year-old captain.
Rwanda also holds the world record for women after Cathia Uwamahoro, a national team cricket player, became the first woman to bat for 26 hours.
Rwanda’s national cricket association estimates that only around 4,000 people currently play cricket.
The new stadium has been built to international standards, making it a rarity in East Africa.