The Kigali Arena ought to inspire the emerging sportsmen and women involved in basketball, President Paul Kagame has said.
Kagame was speaking yesterday as he officiated at the inauguration of the state of the art facility.
The indoor stadium, which has a sitting capacity of about 10,000 people is among Africa’s top 10 indoor sports venues and the biggest in East Africa.
The facility will be used for multiple indoor games including basketball, netball, volleyball and martial arts among others.
“This arena is not just a decoration to be visited on Christmas and New Year. It was built to host the best basketball players of Rwanda and Africa, for them to train, play and win here,” Kagame said.
He lauded Summa, the Turkish firm contracted who built the stadium for the speed, quality and skills transfer. The facility was built in only six months without compromising on quality.
“I want to thank those who built this arena, Summa Company of Turkey, who built this arena in only six months. They worked day and night. And that is how we should all learn to work, fast and producing quality.”
In the process, 70 per cent of the staff were Rwandan while majority of the material used was also locally sourced.
Kagame also recognised Masai Ujiri, the President of the Toronto Raptors (current NBA champions), Adam Silver (NBA Commissioner) as well as Amadou Gallo Fall, the Managing Director of NBA Africa for their role in developing basketball in Africa through a programme called Giants of Africa.
The Head of State challenged sports men and women to strive to be the best they can be.
“They have a programme called Giants of Africa. Africa has giants and we must carry ourselves as Giants. That means it must be reflected in our actions. When your actions are exceptional then that is who you become,” Kagame said.
It is by developing the sport in Africa and raising the profile that young talents are identified, supported and trained to be professional players in leagues across Africa, he stated.
Facilities such as Kigali Arena are crucial in the process because of their ability to attract big brands and names, which further inspires emerging talent.
The facility is already attracting global tournament and is slated to host the semi-finals and the final of the inaugural Basketball Africa League (BAL) in March 2020.