THE RWANDA Cricket Stadium Foundation, a British-based charity which is set to build the first international standard cricket pitch in Rwanda, has launched a £200,000 (about Rwf223m) appeal to fund a pavilion for the new ground with a 2015 charity calendar.
The calendar, which features photographs of cricketers in Rwanda playing the game in unusual locations, from a busy marketplace in Kigali to a rope bridge sixty metres above the Nyungwe Rainforest National Park – goes on sale today in London.
The occasion was picked to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in which over a million people were killed.
The foundation has also announced that England women team’s cricketer Heather Knight had become a patron of the charity, following a trip to Rwanda last month where she coached a group of girls and visited the Genocide memorial in Kigali.
RCSF recently acquired a 4.5 hectare plot of land in Gahanga, Kigali, to build two cricket pitches and a pavilion. Geological and architectural surveys are underway, with ground expected to be broken in the coming days.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the calendar, RCSF Project Director Ed Pearson said, “Cricket is bringing people together in Rwanda after a troubled past.”
“But for too long Rwanda’s small but growing cricket community has been held back by a lack of facilities, which is why we are building this ground to provide a permanent home for the sport and allow all Rwandans from all different backgrounds the opportunity to play.”
He added: “Just over two years since RCSF began; we have raised half of our £600,000 target and acquired a plot of land in Kigali where ground will soon be broken.”
Pearson, who also doubles as the men’s national team, noted that they have moved to the next stage of the project, which is the construction of the pitch and raising money for a pavilion where Rwandan spectators can enjoy the game.
RCSF was set up in 2011 to build and manage, on a not-for-profit basis, the first dedicated international cricket ground in Rwanda.
The charity is run by a team of cricket enthusiasts from the UK and Rwanda, in partnership with the Marylebone Cricket Club Foundation.
Once complete, it will provide a home for cricket in Rwanda encouraging club, school and university cricket, whilst also enabling Rwanda to host international matches and tournaments, as well as touring teams from abroad.
RCSF’s high profile patrons include British Prime Minister David Cameron, BBC Commentator Jonathan Agnew, former West Indies batsman Brian Lara, England women’s cricketer Heather Knight, Andrew Mitchell MP and Peter Chadlington.
In July 2013, Alby Shale, trustee of the RCSF, broke the world record for the longest continuous batting net. He batted for 26 hours at the Kia Oval, London, to raise awareness and funds for the charity.