Uwamahoro on how cricket changed her life after surviving the Genocide

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Uwamahoro poses with Eric Dusingizimana after setting the Guinness World Record. File

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Cathia Uwamahoro is one of Rwanda’s most experienced women cricket players.
S. Ngendahimana

Rwanda Cricket Association (RCA) is committed to use the sport to empower women and girls, especially those that were affected by the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi. The affirmation comes two months after Cathia Uwamahoro, a genocide survivor, got a near-national hero status after she batted for 26 hours in the cricket net to set a Guinness World Record. It is the longest net session in women’s history.

The record for longest nets session in men’s cricket also belongs to a Rwandan, Eric Dusingizimana, who batted for 51 hours in the nets last year.

England national women cricket team captain Heather Knights in the aftermath of Uwamahoro’s record said, Cathia is a very strong woman, I can’t stand that, she is very determined and very courageous.”

Though not as arduous as batting for long hours in a real match situation, it is indeed an impressive task that Uwamahoro accomplished. Performing any task for 26 continuous hours is commendable. She accomplished her feat at the Amahoro National Stadium in Kigali.

Such an accomplishment by the two players is certainly a big boost to cricket in a country where the sport is not very popular. When the likes of Uwamahoro emerge, they leave a lasting impression on the minds and hearts of the young generation.

Rwanda is not among giants in global cricket, but with Uwamahoro’s Guinness World Record, there is hope that it will motivate more youngsters to take up the sport.

Uwamahoro has achieved a lot at a young age through the sport whose main objective is to identify young talent and rebuild hope for those that were devastated by the Genocide that left over a million people dead, including many of her family members and close relatives.

Uwamahoro, who is also captain of Rwanda national women’s cricket team, lost her father when she was just six months old during the 1994 Genocide.

Over two decades later, the 22-year-old has become an outstanding female cricketer and a role model for young people.

She endured the challenges of growing up with a single mother, who did whatever possible to give her a decent upbringing. Her mother struggled to educate her, but things got tough when she joined university.

But somehow, through cricket, Uwamahoro has managed to continue with her studies and she is currently a second year student at the University of Kigali pursuing a degree in Information Systems.

Recently she got a part-time job with UAE Exchange and Money Transfer. UAE Exchange and Money Transfer, who are key partners with the Rwanda Cricket Association, gave her the job as a way of facilitating her to finish university.

“Uwamahoro is one of the 9000 employees of UAE Exchange and Money Transfer, who are working in 32 countries around the world,” UAE Exchange Money Transfer Country Director, Rayaz Naghoor said.

Speaking to Saturday Sport, Uwamahoro said, “I have grown stronger since joining the cricket family, cricketers work together, we visit one another, we are always there for each other and it’s a sport that emphasises a high degree of respect and team work.”

Commenting on the commemoration she said: “Obviously during this period, it’s always difficult for my family but I just have to be strong as we remember our dear ones who were killed in the Genocide,” she said.

She noted that she was surprised by the massive support she received from Rwandans both in Rwanda and abroad after her name entered the Guinness World Record books.

“I received overwhelming support and I remember how I used to sit alone with my mother in our house in Gisozi and now I am seeing many people congratulating me, others are calling me and I have really become much stronger than I have been,” she explained.

She says the uncompromising love, help and unity that is exercised by cricketers in the country has built hope in not only her but so many other genocide survivors.

Uwamahoro is the Rwanda women cricket ambassador and she hopes to use her position to inspire many young women towards striving for excellence in so many areas of life, including sports.

She was among the pioneer women cricket players, and it was not long before she was called to join the first national U-19 team that went on to compete in several ICC Africa U-19 Women Championships.

She has won 9 titles with Charity CC since 2013 which include; UAE Exchange (2013), V.R. Naidu T20, UAE Exchange, Blue Belly and Computer Point (2014), RCA T10, V.R. Naidu T20, UAE Exchange and Computer Point (2015) and last year’s V.R. Naidu T20.

Her personal achievements include; VR Naidu T20 player of the match awards five times, 2015 RCA expatriate most sixes, best batter and best fielder, RCA T10 MVP.

She has represented the country in many international competitions and has been voted as Charity CC best player of the year for the past three seasons.

Playing cricket not only keep ladies fit but is recognized as a force to amplify their voices and tear down discrimination. It shows that they are strong and capable.

“Every time women bat a ball or make a catch, it doesn’t only demonstrate physical strength, but also leadership and strategic thinking, which is a step towards gender equality,” Uwamahoro added.

Rwanda Crickets Association general manager, Bridget Uwineza said, “The contemporary women are faced with many challenges, with many unemployed while others orphaned.”

She noted that cricket is providing a safe haven for young women in Rwanda to discover the skills in not only cricket, but also through leadership training and seminars.

RCA has provided a platform for young women to lead and excel through the various leadership positions in administration not forgetting the leadership required on the playing ground.

Uwera noted that Rwanda cricket has been central in involving women in various initiatives through training on good health, self-confidence, teamwork, academic success, work place skills, community development, economic development, peace building and national pride.

Charity Cricket team captain, Uwamahoro, will again lead Rwanda in this year’s Kwibuka International Women Cricket Tournament set for June in Kigali. The tournament is expected to attract six nations including; Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Nigeria and hosts Rwanda.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw